Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
90. Clyde Water

WILLIE stands in his stable door,
  And clapping at his steed,
And over his white fingers
  His nose began to bleed.

‘Gie corn unto my horse, mither,
  Gie meat unto my man;
For I maun gang to Margaret’s bour
  Before the nicht comes on.’—

‘O bide at hame this nicht, Willie,
  This ae bare nicht wi’ me:        10
The bestan bed in a’ my house
  Sall be well made to thee.

‘O bide at hame this nicht, Willie,
  This ae bare nicht wi’ me:
The bestan bird in a’ the roost        15
  At your supper, son, sall be.’—

‘A’ your beds and a’ your roosts
  I value not a pin;
But I sall gae to my love’s gates
  This nicht, gif I can win.’—        20

‘O stay at home, my son Willie,
  The wind blaws cauld an’ sour;
The nicht will be baith mirk and late
  Before ye reach her bour.’—

‘O though the nicht were ever sae dark.
  Or the wind blew never sae cauld,
I will be in my Margaret’s bour
  Before twa hours be tald.’—

‘O an ye gang to Margaret’s bour
  Sae sair against my will,        30
I’ the deepest pot o’ Clyde’s water
  My malison ye’se feel.’

As he rade owre yon high high hill,
  And doun yon dowie den,
The roaring that was in Clyde’s water        35
  Wad fley’d live hundred men.

His heart was warm, his pride was up,
  Sweet Willie kentna fear;
But yet his mither’s malison
  Aye soundit in his ear.        40

‘O spare, O spare me, Clyde’s water:
  Your stream rins wondrous strang:
Mak’ me your wrack as I come back,
  But spare me as I gang!’

Then he rade in, and further in,
  And he swam to an’ fro,
Until he ’s grippit a hazel bush
  That brung him to the brow.

Then he is on to Margaret’s bour,
  And tirléd at the pin;        50
But doors were steek’d and windows barr’d,
  And nane wad let him in.

‘O open the door to me, Marg’ret!
  O open and let me in!
For my boots are fu’ o’ Clyde’s water        55
  And the rain rins owre my chin.’—

‘I darena open the door to you,
  Nor darena let you in;
For my mither she is fast asleep,
  And I maun mak’ nae din.’—        60

‘O hae ye ne’er a stable?’ he says,
  ‘Or hae ye ne’er a barn?
Or hae ye ne’er a wild-goose house
  Where I might rest till morn?’—

‘My barn it is fu’ o’ corn,’ she says,
  ‘My stable is fu’ o’ hay;
My house is fu’ o’ merry young men;
  They winna remove till day.’—

‘O fare ye weel then, May Marg’ret,
  Sin’ better may na be!        70
I’ve gotten my mither’s malison
  This nicht, coming to thee.’

He ’s mounted on his coal-black steed,
  —O but his heart was wae!
But ere he came to Clyde’s water        75
  ’Twas half up owre the brae.

‘An hey, Willie! an hoa, Willie!
  Winna ye turn agen?’
But aye the louder that she cried
  He rade agenst the win’.        80

As he rade owre yon high high hill,
  And doun yon dowie den,
The roaring that was in Clyde’s water
  Wad fley’d a thousand men.

Then he rade in, and farther in,
  Till he cam’ to the chine;
The rushing that was in Clyde’s water
  Took Willie’s riding-cane.

He lean’d him owre his saddle-bow
  To catch the rod by force;        90
The rushing that was in Clyde’s water
  Took Willie frae his horse.

‘O how can I turn my horse’s head?
  How can I learn to sowm?
I’ve gotten my mither’s malison,        95
  And it ’s here that I maun drown!’

O he swam high, and he swam low,
  And he swam to and fro,
But he couldna spy the hazel-bush
  Wad bring him to the brow.        100

He ’s sunk and he never rase agen
  Into the pot sae deep …
And up it waken’d May Margaret
  Out o’ her drowsie sleep.

‘Come hither, come here, my mither dear,
  Read me this dreary dream;
I dream’d my Willie was at our gates,
  And nane wad let him in.’—

‘Lie still, lie still now, my Meggie:
  Lie still and tak’ your rest;        110
Sin’ your true-love was at your gates
  It ’s but twa quarters past.’—

Nimbly, nimbly rase she up,
  And nimbly put she on;
And the higher that the lady cried,        115
  The louder blew the win.’.

The firstan step that she stept in,
  She steppit to the queet:
‘Ohon, alas!’ said that lady,
  This water ’s wondrous deep.’        120

The neistan step that she stept in,
  She waded to the knee;
Says she, ‘I cou’d wade farther in,
  If I my love cou’d see.’

The neistan step that she wade in,
  She waded to the chin;
The deepest pot in Clyde’s water
  She got sweet Willie in.

‘Ye’ve had a cruel mither, Willie!
  And I have had anither;        130
But we sall sleep in Clyde’s water
  Like sister an’ like brither.’
GLOSS:  malison] curse.  dowie] dismal, gloomy.  fley’d] frightened.  sowm] swim.  queet] ankle.


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