Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
The Wife of Usher’s Well

THERE 1 lived a wife at Usher’s well,
  And a wealthy wife was she;
She had three stout and stalwart sons,
  And sent them o’er the sea.
They hadna been a week from her,        5
  A week but barely ane,
When word came to the carlin wife
  That her three sons were gane.
They hadna been a week from her
  A week but barely three,        10
When word came to the carlin wife
  That her sons she’d never see.—
‘I wish the wind may never cease
  Nor fishes in the flood,
Till my three sons come hame to me,        15
  In earthly flesh and blood!’
It fell about the Martinmas
  When nights are long and mirk,
The carlin wife’s three sons came hame,
  And their hats were o’ the birk.        20
It neither grew in syke nor ditch,
  Nor yet on any sheugh;
But at the gates of Paradise
  That birk grew fair eneugh.—
‘Blow up the fire, my maidens!        25
  Bring water from the well!
For a’ my house shall feast this night,
  Since my three sons are well.’—
And she has made to them a bed,
  She ’s made it large and wide;        30
And she ’s ta’en her mantle her about,
  Sat down at the bedside.
Up then crew the red red cock,
  And up and crew the grey;
The eldest to the youngest said,        35
  ‘’Tis time we were away.’—
The cock he had not craw’d but once
  And clapp’d his wings at a’,
When the youngest to the eldest said,
  ‘Brother we must awa.        40
The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
  The channerin worm doth chide;
Gin we be miss’d out o’ our place
  A sair pain we maun bide.’—
‘Fare ye weel, my mother dear!        45
  Fareweel to barn and byre!
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass
  That kindles my mother’s fire!’
Note 1. Unknown. The wife of Usher’s well. [See 101.] This is at vol. ii, p. 111, of the ‘Minstrelsy’. [back]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.