Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
52. Fair Janet

‘YE maun gang to your father, Janet,
  Ye maun gang to him sune;
Ye maun gnag to your father, Janet,
  In case that his days are dune.’

Janet’s awa’ to her father
  As fast as she could hie:
‘O what’s your will wi’ me, father?
  O what’s your will wi’ me?’—

‘My will wi’ you, Fair Janet,’ he said,
  ‘It is both bed and board;        10
Some say that ye love Sweet Willie,
  But ye maun wed a French lord.’

Janet’s awa to her chamber
  As fast as she could go;
Wha’s the first ane that tappèd there,        15
  But Sweet Willie her jo?

‘O we maun part this love, Willie,
  That has been lang between;
There’s a French lord coming o’er the sea
  To wed me wi’ a ring.’—        20

‘If we maun part this love, Janet,
  It causeth mickle woe;
If we maun part this love, Janet,
  It makes me in mourning go.’—

‘But ye maun gang to your three sisters,
  Meg, Marion and Jean;
Tell them to come to Fair Janet,
  In case that her days are dune.’

Willie’s awa’ to his three sisters,
  Meg, Marion and Jean:        30
‘O haste and gang to Fari Janet,
  I fear that her days are dune!’

Some drew to them their silken hose,
  Some drew to them their shoon,
Some drew to them their silk manteils,        35
  Their coverings to put on;
And they’re awa’ to Fair Janet
  By the hie light o’ the moon.…

‘O I have borne this babe, Willie,
  Wi’ mickle toil and pain;        40
Take hame, take hame your babe, Willie,
  For nurse I dare be nane.’

He’s ta’en his young son in his arms
  And kiss’d him cheek and chin,
And he’s awa’ to his mother’s bower        45
  By the hie light o’ the moon.

‘O open, open, mother!’ he says,
  ‘O open, and let me in!
The rain rains on my yellow hair
  And the dew drops o’er my chin;        50
And I hae my young son in my arms,—
  I fear that his days are dune.’

Then with her fingers long and sma’
  She lifted up the pin,
And with her arms sae long and sma’        55
  Received the baby in.

‘Gae back, gae back now, Sweet Willie,
  And comfort your fair ladye;
For where ye had but ae nourice
  Your young son shall hae three.’        60

Willie he was scarce awa’
  And Janet put to bed,
When in and came her father dear:
  ‘Mak’ haste, and busk the bride!’—

‘There’s a sair pain in my head, father,
  There’s a sair pain in my side;
And ill, O ill I am, father,
  This day for to be a bride!’—

‘O ye maun busk this bonny bride,
  And put a gay mantle on;        70
For she shall wed this auld French lord,
  Gin she should die this morn.’

Some put on the gay green robes,
  And some put on the brown;
But Janet put on the scarlet robes,        75
  Shone foremost thro’ the town.

And some they mounted the black steed,
  And some mounted the brown;
But Janet mounted the milk-white steed,
  Rode foremost thro’ the town.        80

‘O wha will guide your horse, Janet?
  O wha will guide him best?’—
‘O wha but Willie, my true-love?
  He kens I love him best.’

And when they came to Mary’s kirk
  To tie the holy ban’,
Fair Janet’s colour gaed and came,
  And her cheek look’d pale and wan.

When dinner it was past and done,
  And dancing to begin,        90
‘O we’ll go take the bride’s maidens,
  And we’ll go fill the ring.’

O ben then came the auld French lord,
  Saying, ‘Bride, will ye dance wi’ me?’—
‘Awa’, awa’, ye auld French lord!        95
  Your face I downa see.’

O ben then came Sweet Willie,
  He came with ane advance:
‘O I’ll go tak’ the bride’s maidens,
  And we’ll go tak’ a dance.’—        100

‘I’ve seen ither days wi’ you, Willie,
  And so has mony mae,
Ye would hae danced wi’ me mysel’,
  Let a’ my maidens gae.’

O ben now came Sweet Willie,
  Saying, ‘Bride, will ye dance wi’ me?’—
‘Ay, by my sooth, and that I will
  Gin my back should break in three.’

She hadna danced her o’er the floor,
  She hadna turn’d but thrice,        110
When she fell doun at Willie’s feet,
  And up did never rise.

Willie’s ta’en the key of his coffer
  And gi’en it to his man:
‘Gae hame, and tell my mother dear        115
  My horse he has me slain;
And bid her be kind to my young son,
  For father he has nane.’
GLOSS:  jo] sweetheart.  busk] array.  mae] more.


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