Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Kinmont Willie
Scott’s Border Minstrelsy
 
OH, have ye na heard o’ the fause Sakelde?
  Oh, have ye na heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope?
How they hae ta’en bauld Kinmont Willie,
  On Haribee to hang him up?
 
Had Willie had but twenty men,        5
  But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont ta’en,
  Wi’ eightscore in his companie.
 
They band his legs beneath the steed,
  They tied his hands behind his back;        10
They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
  And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.
 
They led him through the Liddel-rack,
  And also through the Carlisle sands;
They brought him to Carlisle castell,        15
  To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.
 
“My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,
  And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the Border law?
  Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch?”        20
 
“Now hand thy tongue, thou rank reiver!
  There’s never a Scot shall set thee free:
Before ye cross my castle yate,
  I trow ye shall take farewell o’ me.”
 
“Fear na ye that, my lord,” quoth Willie.        25
  “By the faith o’ my body, Lord Scroope,” he said,
“I never yet lodged in a hostelrie,
  But I paid my lawing before I gaed.”—
 
Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
  In Branksome Ha’, wher that he lay,        30
That Lord Scroope has ta’en the Kinmont Willie,
  Between the hours of night and day.
 
He has ta’en the table wi’ his hand,
  He garr’d the red wine spring on hie,—
“Now Christ’s curse on my head,” he said,        35
  “But avenged of Lord Scroope, I’ll be!
 
“O is my basnet a widow’s curch?
  Or my lance a wand of the willow-tree?
Or my arm a ladye’s lilye hand,
  That an English lord sets light by me!        40
 
“And have they ta’en him, Kinmont Willie,
  Against the truce of Border tide?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
  Is keeper here on the Scottish side?
 
“And have they e’en ta’en him, Kinmont Willie,        45
  Withouten either dread or fear?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
  Can back a steed, or shake a spear?
 
“O were there war between the lands,
  As well I wot that there is none,        50
I would slight Carlisle castell high,
  Though it were builded of marble stone.
 
“I would set that castell in a low, 1
  And sloken it with English blood!
There’s never a man in Cumberland,        55
  Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.
 
“But since nae war’s between the lands,
  And there is peace, and peace should be;
I’ll neither harm English lad or lass,
  And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!”        60
 
He has called him forty Marchmen bauld,
  Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch;
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld,
  And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.
 
There were five and five before them a’,        65
  Wi’ hunting-horns and bugles bright:
And five and five came wi’ Buccleuch,
  Like warden’s men, arrayed for fight.
 
And five and five, like a mason gang,
  That carried the ladders lang and hie;        70
And five and five, like broken men;
  And so they reached the Woodhouselee.
 
And as we crossed the Bateable Land,
  When to the English side we held,
The first o’ men that we met wi’,        75
  Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde?
 
“Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?”
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; “come tell to me!”—
“We go to hunt an English stag,
  Has trespassed on the Scots countrie.”        80
 
“Where be ye gaun, ye marshal men?”
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; “come tell me true!”
“We go to catch a rank reiver,
  Has broken faith wi’ the bauld Buccleuch.”
 
“Where are ye gaun, ye mason lads,        85
  Wi’ a’ your ladders, lang and hie?”
“We gang to herry a corbie’s nest,
  That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.”
 
“Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?”
  Quo’ fause Sakelde; “come tell to me!”—        90
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,
  And the nevir a word of lore had he.
 
“Why trespass ye on the English side?
  Row-footed outlaws, stand!” quo’ he;
The nevir a word had Dickie to say,        95
  Sae he thrust the lance through his fause bodie.
 
Then on we held for Carlisle toun,
  And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we crossed;
The water was great and meikle of spait,
  But the nevir a horse nor man we lost.        100
 
And when we reached the Staneshaw-bank,
  The wind was rising loud and hie;
And there the laird garr’d leave our steeds,
  For fear that they should stamp and nie.
 
And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,        105
  The wind began full loud to blaw;
But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
  When we came beneath the castle wa’.
 
We crept on knees, and held our breath,
  Till we placed the ladders against the wa’;        110
And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell
  To mount the first before us a’.
 
He has ta’en the watchman by the throat,
  He flung him down upon the lead—
“Had there not been peace between our lands,        115
  Upon the other side thou hadst gaed!
 
“Now sound out, trumpets!” quo’ Buccleuch;
  “Let’s waken Lord Scroope right merrilie!”
Then loud the warden’s trumpet blew—
  O wha dare meddle wi’ me?        120
 
Then speedilie to wark we gaed,
  And raised the slogan ane and a’,
And cut a hole through a sheet of lead,
  And so we wan to the castle ha’.
 
They thought King James and a’ his men        125
  Had won the house wi’ bow and spear;
It was but twenty Scots and ten,
  That put a thousand in sic a stear!
 
Wi’ coulters, and wi’ forehammers,
  We garr’d the bars bang merrilie,        130
Untill we came to the inner prison,
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie.
 
And when we cam to the lower prison,
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie,—
“O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,        135
  Upon the morn that thou’s to die?”
 
“O I sleep saft, and I wake aft;
  It’s lang since sleeping was fley’d frae me!
Gie my service back to my wife and bairns,
  And a’ gude fellows that spier for me.”        140
 
Then red Rowan has hente him up,
  The starkest man in Teviotdale—
“Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
  Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell.
 
“Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!        145
  My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!” he cried—
“I’ll pay you for my lodging maill,
  When first we meet on the Border side.”
 
Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
  We bore him down the ladder lang;        150
At every stride Red Rowan made,
  I wot the Kinmont’s airns played clang!
 
“O mony a time,” quo’ Kinmont Willie,
  “I’ve ridden horse baith wild and wood;
But a rougher beast than Red Rowan        155
  I ween my legs have ne’er bestrode.
 
“And mony a time,” quo’ Kinmont Willie,
  “I’ve pricked a horse out oure the furs;
But since the day I backed a steed,
  I never wore sic cumbrous spurs!”        160
 
We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank,
  When a’ the Carlisle bells were rung,
And a thousand men on horse and foot,
  Cam wi’ the keen Lord Scroope along.
 
Buccleuch has turned to Eden Water,        165
  Even where it flowed frae bank to brim,
And he has plunged in wi’ a’ his band,
  And safely swam them through the stream.
 
He turned him on the other side,
  And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he—        170
“If ye like na my visit in merry England,
  In fair Scotland come visit me!”
 
All sore astonished stood Lord Scroope,
  He stood as still as rock of stane;
He scarcely dared to trust his eyes,        175
  When through the water they had gane.
 
“He is either himsell a devil frae hell,
  Or else his mother a witch maun be;
I wadna have ridden that wan water
  For a’ the gowd in Christentie.”        180
 
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