Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Ballads: Romantic
Waly, Waly
          [This fragment, variously corrupted, is often printed as part of a rather dull ballad, concerned with events in the history of Lord James Douglas, of the Laird of Blackwood, and of the lady who utters the beautiful lament here printed.]

O WALY, waly, up the bank,
  O waly, waly, doun the brae,
And waly, waly, yon burn-side,
  Where I and my love were wont to gae!
I lean’d my back unto an aik,        5
  I thocht it was a trustie tree,
But first it bow’d and syne it brak’,—
  Sae my true love did lichtlie me.
O waly, waly, but love be bonnie
  A little time while it is new!        10
But when it ’s auld it waxeth cauld,
  And fadeth awa’ like the morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my heid,
  Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true love has me forsook,        15
  And says he ’ll never lo’e me mair.
Noo Arthur’s Seat sall be my bed,
  The sheets sall ne’er be press’d by me;
Saint Anton’s well sall be my drink;
  Since my true love’s forsaken me.        20
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
  And shake the green leaves off the tree?
O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
  For of my life I am wearie.
’Tis not the frost that freezes fell,        25
  Nor blawing snaw’s inclemencie,
’Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry;
  But my love’s heart grown cauld to me.
When we cam’ in by Glasgow toun,
  We were a comely sicht to see;        30
My love was clad in the black velvet,
  An’ I mysel’ in cramasie.
But had I wist before I kiss’d
  That love had been so ill to win,
I’d lock’d my heart in a case o’ goud,        35
  And pinn’d it wi’ a siller pin.
Oh, oh! if my young babe were born,
  And set upon the nurse’s knee;
And I mysel’ were dead and gane,
  And the green grass growing over me!        40

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