Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
78. Lamkin
 
 
I

IT’S Lamkin was a mason good
  As ever built wi’ stane;
He built Lord Wearie’s castle,
  But payment got he nane.
 
II

‘O pay me, Lord Wearie,
        5
  Come, pay to me my fee.’—
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
  For I maun gang o’er the sea.’—
 
III

‘O pay me now, Lord Wearie,
  Come, pay me out o’ hand.’—        10
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
  Unless I sell my land.’—
 
IV

‘O gin ye winna pay me,
  I here sall mak’ a vow,
Before that ye come hame again,        15
  Ye sall hae cause to rue.’
 
V

Lord Wearie got a bonny ship,
  To sail the saut sea faem;
Bade his lady weel the castle keep,
  Ay till he should come hame.        20
 
VI

‘Gae bar the doors,’ the lady said,
  ‘Gae well the windows pin;
And what care I for Lamkin
  Or any of his gang?’
 
VII

But the nourice was a fause limmer
        25
  As e’er hung on a tree;
She laid a plot wi’ Lamkin,
  Whan her lord was o’er the sea.
 
VIII

She laid a plot wi’ Lamkin,
  When the servants were awa’,        30
Loot him in at a little shot-window,
  And brought him to the ha’.
 
IX

‘O whare’s a’ the men o’ this house,
  That ca’ me the Lamkin?’—
‘They’re at the barn-well thrashing;        35
  ’Twill be lang ere they come in.’—
 
X

‘And whare’s the women o’ this house,
  That ca’ me the Lamkin?’—
‘They’re at the far well washing;
  ’Twill be lang ere they come in.’—        40
 
XI

‘And whare’s the bairns o’ this house,
  That ca’ me the Lamkin?’—
‘They’re at the school reading;
  ’Twill be night or they come hame.’—
 
XII

‘O whare’s the lady o’ this house,
        45
  That ca’s me the Lamkin?’—
‘She’s up in her bower sewing,
  But we soon can bring her down.
 
XIII

Then Lamkin’s tane a sharp knife,
  That hung down by his gare,        50
And he has gi’en the bonny babe
  A deep wound and a sair.
 
XIV

Then Lamkin he rockèd,
  And the fause nourice sang,
Till frae ilka bore o’ the cradle        55
  The red blood out sprang.
 
XV

Then out it spak’ the lady,
  As she stood on the stair:
‘What ails my bairn, nourice,
  That he’s greeting sae sair?        60
 
XVI

‘O still my bairn, nourice,
  O still him wi’ the pap!’—
‘He winna still, lady,
  For this nor for that.’—
 
XVII

‘O still my bairn, nourice,
        65
  O still him wi’ the wand!’—
‘He winna still, lady,
  For a’ his father’s land.’—
 
XVIII

‘O still my bairn, nourice,
  O still him wi’ the bell!’—        70
‘He winna still, lady,
  Till ye come down yoursel’.’—
 
XIX

O the firsten step she steppit,
  She steppit on a stane;
But the neisten step she steppit,        75
  She met him Lamkin.
 
XX

O mercy, mercy, Lamkin,
  Hae mercy upon me!
Though you hae ta’en my young son’s life,
  Ye may let mysel’ be.’—        80
 
XXI

‘O sall I kill her, nourice,
  Or sall I lat her be?’—
‘O kill her, kill her, Lamkin,
  For she ne’er was good to me.’—
 
XXII

‘O scour the bason, nourice,
        85
  And mak’ it fair and clean,
For to keep this lady’s heart’s blood,
  For she’s come o’ noble kin.’—
 
XXIII

‘There need nae bason, Lamkin,
  Lat it run through the floor;        90
What better is the heart’s blood
  O’ the rich than o’ the poor?’
 
XXIV

But ere three months were at an end,
  Lord Wearie came again;
But dowie, dowie was his heart        95
  When first he came hame.
 
XXV

‘O wha’s blood is this,’ he says,
  ‘That lies in the cham’er?’—
‘It is your lady’s heart’s blood;
  ’Tis as clear as the lamer.’—        100
 
XXVI

‘And wha’s blood is this,’ he says,
  ‘That lies in my ha’?’—
‘It is your young son’s heart’s blood;
  ’Tis the clearest ava’.’
 
XXVII

O sweetly sang the black-bird
        105
  That sat upon the tree;
But sairer grat Lamkin,
  When he was condemn’d to dee.
 
XXVIII

And bonny sang the mavis
  Out o’ the thorny brake;        110
But sairer grat the nourice,
  When she was tied to the stake.
 
GLOSS:  limmer] wretch, jade.  shot-window] a window opening on a hinge.  gare] a seam of the skirt.  bore] hole, crevice.  greeting] wailing, crying.  dowie] heavy, sorrowful.  cham’er] chamber.  lamer] amber.  ava’] of all.
 

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