Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
25. Earl Mar’s Daughter

IT was intill a pleasant time,
  Upon a simmer’s day,
The noble Earl Mar’s daughter
  Went forth to sport and play.

And while she play’d and sported
  Below a green aik tree,
There she saw a sprightly doo
  Set on a tower sae hie.

‘O Coo-me-doo, my love sae true,
  If ye’ll come doun to me,        10
Ye’se hae a cage o’ gude red gowd
  Instead o’ simple tree.

‘I’ll put gowd hingers roun’ your cage,
  And siller roun’ your wa’;
I’ll gar ye shine as fair a bird        15
  As ony o’ them a’.’

But she had nae these words well spoke,
  Nor yet these words well said,
Till Coo-me-doo flew frae the tower
  And lichted on her head.        20

Then she has brought this pretty bird
  Hame to her bowers and ha’,
And made him shine as fair a bird
  As ony o’ them a’.

When day was gone, and night was come,
  About the evening-tide,
This lady spied a gallant youth
  Stand straight up by her side.

‘From whence cam’ ye, young man?’ she said;
  ‘That does surprise me sair;        30
My door was bolted right secure,
  What way hae ye come here?’—

‘O haud your tongue, ye lady fair,
  Lat a’ your folly be;
Mind ye not o’ your turtle-doo        35
  Ye wiled from aff the tree?’—

‘What country come ye frae?’ she said,
  ‘An’ what’s your pedigree?’—
‘O it was but this verra day
  That I cam’ ower the sea.        40

‘My mither lives on foreign isles,
  A queen o’ high degree;
And by her spells I am a doo
  With you to live an’ dee.’—

‘O Coo-me-doo, my love sae true,
  Nae mair frae me ye’se gae.’—
‘That’s never my intent, my love;
  As ye said, it shall be sae.’

Then he has stay’d in bower wi’ her
  For six lang years and ane,        50
Till six young sons to him she bare,
  And the seventh she’s brought hame.

But aye, as ever a child was born,
  He carried them away,
And brought them to his mither’s care        55
  As fast as he could fly.

When he had stay’d in bower wi’ her
  For seven lang years an’ mair
There cam’ a lord o’ high renown
  To court this lady fair.        60

But still his proffer she refused
  And a’ his presents too;
Says, ‘I’m content to live alane
  Wi’ my bird Coo-me-doo.’

Her father swore a michty oath
  Amang the nobles all,
‘The morn, or ere I eat or drink.
  This bird I will gar kill.’

The bird was sitting in his cage
  And heard what they did say;        70
Says, ‘Wae is me, and you forlorn,
  If I do langer stay!’

Then Coo-me-doo took flight and flew
  And afar beyond the sea,
And lichted near his mither’s castle        75
  On a tower o’ gowd sae hie.

His mither she was walking out
  To see what she could see,
And there she saw her one young son
  Set on the tower sae hie.        80

‘Get dancers here to dance,’ she said,
  ‘And minstrels for to play;
For here’s my young son Florentine
  Come hame wi’ me to stay.’—

‘Get nae dancers to dance, mither,
  Nor minstrels for to play;
For the mither o’ my seven sons,
  The morn’s her wedding-day.’—

‘O tell me, tell me, Florentine,
  Tell me, an tell me true;        90
Tell me this day without a flaw
  What I will do for you?’—

‘Instead of dancers to dance, mither,
  Or minstrels for to play,
Turn four-and-twenty well-wight men        95
  Like storks in feathers gray:

‘My seven sons in seven swans
  Aboon their heads to flee;
And I mysell a gay goshawk,
  A bird o’ high degree.’        100

Then siching said the Queen hersel’,
  ‘That thing’s too high for me!’
But she applied to an auld woman
  What had mair skill than she.

Instead o’ dancers to dance a dance,
  Or minstrels for to play,
Four-and-twenty well-wight men
  Turn’d birds o’ feathers gray.

Her seven sons in seven swans,
  Aboon their heads to flee;        110
And he himsel’ a gay goshawk,
  A bird o’ high degree.

This flock o’ birds took flight and flew
  Beyond the raging sea,
And landed near the Earl Mar’s castle,        115
  Took shelter in every tree.

They were a flock o’ pretty birds
  Right comely to be seen;
The people view’d them wi’ surprise
  As they dancèd on the green.        120

These birds flew out frae every tree
  And lichted on the ha’,
And [frae the roof] with force did flee
  Amang the nobles a’.

The storks there seized [ilk wedding-guest]
  —They could not fight nor flee;
The swans they bound the [bridegroom fast]
  Below a green aik tree.

They lichted next on the [bride-] maidens,
  Then on the bride’s own head;        130
And wi’ the twinkling o’ an e’e
  The bride an’ them were fled.

There’s ancient men at weddings been
  For sixty years or more,
But siccan a curious wedding-day        135
  They never saw before.

For naething could the companie do,
  Nor naething could they say;
But they saw a flock o’ pretty birds
  That took their bride away.        140
GLOSS:  doo] dove.  hingers] hangings, curtains.  well-wight] strong, lusty.


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