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.
 
The Braes of Yarrow
By William Hamilton of Bangour (1704–1754)
 
“BUSK ye, busk ye, my bonnie, bonnie bride!
  Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome marrow!
Busk ye, busk ye, my bonnie, bonnie bride,
  And think nae mair of the Braes of Yarrow.”
 
“Where gat ye that bonnie, bonnie bride,        5
  Where gat ye that winsome marrow?”
“I gat her where I daurna weel be seen,
  Pu’ing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
 
“Weep not, weep not, my bonnie, bonnie bride,
  Weep not, weep not, my winsome marrow!        10
Nor let thy heart lament to leave
  Pu’ing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.”
 
“Why does she weep, thy bonnie, bonnie bride?
  Why does she weep, thy winsome marrow?
And why daur ye nae mair weel be seen        15
  Pu’ing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow?”
 
“Lang maun she weep, lang maun she, maun she weep—
  Lang maun she weep wi’ dule and sorrow;
And lang maun I nae mair weel be seen
  Pu’ing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.        20
 
“For she has tint her lover, lover dear,
  Her lover dear, the cause of sorrow;
And I hae slain the comeliest swain
  That e’er pu’d birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
 
“Why runs thy stream, O Yarrow, Yarrow, red?        25
  Why on thy braes heard the voice of sorrow?
And why yon melancholious weeds
  Hung on the bonnie birks of Yarrow?
 
“What’s yonder floats on the rueful, rueful flood?
  What’s yonder floats? O, dule and sorrow!        30
’Tis he, the comely swain I slew
  Upon the dulefu’ Braes of Yarrow.
 
“Wash, O wash his wounds, his wounds in tears,
  His wounds in tears o’ dule and sorrow;
And wrap his limbs in mourning weeds,        35
  And lay him on the banks of Yarrow.
 
“Then build, then build, ye sisters, sisters sad,
  Ye sisters sad, his tomb wi’ sorrow;
And weep around, in waeful wise,
  His hapless fate on the Braes of Yarrow!        40
 
“Curse ye, curse ye, his useless, useless shield,
  The arm that wrought the deed of sorrow,
The fatal spear that pierced his breast,
  His comely breast, on the Braes of Yarrow!
 
“Did I not warn thee not to, not to love,        45
  And warn from fight? But, to my sorrow,
Too rashly bold, a stronger arm thou met’st,
  Thou met’st, and fell on the Braes of Yarrow.
 
“Sweet smell the birk; green grows, green grows the grass;
  Yellow on Yarrow’s braes the gowan;        50
Fair hangs the apple frae the rock;
  Sweet the wave of Yarrow flowan!
 
“Flows Yarrow sweet? As sweet, as sweet flows Tweed;
  As green its grass; its gowan as yellow;
As sweet smells on its braes the birk;        55
  The apple frae its rock as mellow!
 
“Fair was thy love! fair, fair indeed thy love!
  In flowery bands thou didst him fetter;
Though he was fair, and well-beloved again,
  Than I he never loved thee better.        60
 
“Busk ye, then, busk, my bonnie, bonnie bride!
  Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome marrow!
Busk ye, and lo’e me on the banks of Tweed
  And think nae mair on the Braes of Yarrow.”
 
“How can I busk a bonnie, bonnie bride?        65
  How can I busk a winsome marrow?
How love him on the banks of Tweed,
  That slew my love on the Braes of Yarrow?
 
“O Yarrow fields, may never, never rain,
  Nor dew, thy tender blossoms cover!        70
For there was basely slain my love,
  My love, as he had not been a lover!
 
“The boy put on his robes, his robes of green,
  His purple vest,—’twas my ain sewing;
Ah, wretched me! I little, little kenned        75
  He was, in these, to meet his ruin.
 
“The boy took out his milk-white, milk-white steed,
  Unmindful of my dule and sorrow;
But ere the too fa’ of the night,
  He lay a corpse on the banks of Yarrow!        80
 
“Much I rejoiced that waefu’, waefu’ day;
  I sang, my voice the woods returning;
But lang ere night the spear was flown,
  That slew my love, and left me mourning.
 
“What can my barbarous, barbarous father do,        85
  But with his cruel rage pursue me?
My lover’s blood is on thy spear,—
  How canst thou, barbarous man, then woo me?
 
“My happy sisters may be, may be proud;
  With cruel and ungentle scoffin,        90
May bid me seek, on Yarrow Braes,
  My lover nailèd in his coffin.
 
“My brother Douglas may upbraid,
  And strive, with threatening words, to move me;
My lover’s blood is on thy spear,—        95
  How can thou ever bid me love thee?
 
“Yes, yes, prepare the bed, the bed of love!
  With bridal-sheets my body cover!
Unbar, ye bridal-maids, the door!
  Let in the expected husband-lover!        100
 
“But who the expected husband, husband is?
  His hands, methinks, are bathed in slaughter!
Ah me! what ghastly spectre’s yon
  Comes in his pale shroud, bleeding after?
 
“Pale as he is, here lay him, lay him down;        105
  Oh lay his cold head on my pillow!
Take off, take off these bridal weeds,
  And crown my careful head with willow.
 
“Pale though thou art, yet best, yet best belovèd,
  Oh could my warmth to life restore thee!        110
Yet lie all night within my arms—
  No youth lay ever there before thee!
 
“Pale, pale indeed, O lovely, lovely youth!
  Forgive, forgive so foul a slaughter,
And lie all night within my arms,        115
  No youth shall ever lie there after!”
 
“Return, return, O mournful, mournful bride!
  Return, and dry thy useless sorrow!
Thy lover heeds nought of thy sighs;
  He lies a corpse on the Braes of Yarrow.”        120
 
 
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