Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
55. Rose the Red and White Lily

O ROSE the Red and White, Lilly,
  Their mother dear was dead,
And their father married an ill woman
  Wish’d them twa little gude.

Yet she had twa as fu’ fair sons
  As e’er brake manis bread;
And Bold Arthur he lo’ed her White Lilly
  And Brown Robin Rose the Red.

O they hae biggit a bigly tow’r,
  And strawn it o’er wi’ sand;        10
There was mair mirth i’ these ladies’ bow’r
  Than in a’ their father’s land.

But out and spake their step-mither,
  At the stair-foot stood she:
‘I’m plaguit wi’ your troublesome noise!        15
  What makes your melodie?

‘O Rose the Red, ye sing too loud,
  White Lilly, your voice is strang:
But gin I live and bruik my life,
  I’ll gar ye change your sang.’        20

She’s call’d her son, Brown Robin,
  ‘Come hither, my son, to me;
It fears me sair, my eldest son,
  That ye maun sail the sea.’—

‘Gin it fear you sair, my mither dear,
  Your bidding I maun dee;
But be never warse to Rose the Red
  Than ye ha’ been to me.’—

‘O haud your tongue, my eldest son,
  For sma’ sall be her part;        30
You’ll ne’er get kiss o’ her comely mouth,
  Tho’ you sh’uld break your heart.’

She’s call’d her son, Bold Arthur:
  ‘Come hither, my son, to me;
It fears me sair, my youngest son,        35
  That ye maun sail the sea.’—

‘Gin it fear you sair, my mither dear,
  Your bidding I maun dee;
But be never warse to White Lilly
  Than ye ha’ been to me.’—        40

‘O haud your tongue, my yongest son,
  For sma’ sall be her part;
You’ll ne’er get kiss o’ White Lilly’s mouth
  Tho’ it break your very heart.’

When Rose the Red and White Lilly
  Saw their twa loves were gane,
Then stoppit ha’ they their loud, loud sang
  For and the still mournin’:
And their step-mither stood forbye,
  To hear the maiden’s mane.        50

Then out it spake her White Lilly:
  ‘My sister, we’ll be gane;
Why should we stay in Burnèsdale
  To waste our youth in pain?’

Then cuttit ha’ they their green clothing
  A little below their knee,
And sae ha’ they their yellow hair
  A little abune their bree;
And they’re do’en them to haly chapel,
  Was christen’d by Our Ladye.        60

There ha’ they changed their ain twa names,
  Sae far frae ony town;
And the tane o’ them hight Sweet Willy,
  And the tither Roge the Roun.

Between this twa a vow was made,
  And they sware it to fulfil;
That at three blasts o’ a bugle-horn
  She’d come her sister till.

Now Sweet Willy’s gane to the Kingis court,
  Her true-love there to see,        70
And Roge the Roun to good green-wood,
  Brown Robin’s man to be.

As it fell out upon a day
  They a’ did put the stane,
Fu’ seven feet ayont them a’        75
  She gar’d the puttin’-stane gang.

She lean’d her back against an oak,
  And ga’e a loud Ohone!
Then out it spake him Brown Robin,
  ‘But that’s a woman’s moan!’        80

‘O ken ye by my red rose lip?
  Or by my yallow hair?
Or ken ye by my milk-white breast?
  For ye never saw it bare.’

‘I ken no by your red rose lip,
  Nor by your yallow hair;
Nor ken I by your milk-white breast,
  For I never saw it bare;
But come to your bow’r whaever sae likes
  Will find a lady there.’        90

About the tenth hour of the night
  The lady’s bow’r-door was broken;
And ere the first hour of the night
  The bonny knave-bairn was gotten.

When days were gane, and months were run,
  Rose the Red took travailing;
And sair she cried for a bow’r-woman,
  Her pine to wait upon.

Then out it spake him Brown Robin:
  ‘Now what needs a’ this din?        100
For what cou’d any woman do
  But I cou’d do the same?’—

‘It was never my mither’s fashion,
  Nor sall it e’er be mine,
That belted Knights shou’d e’er stand by        105
  Where ladies dreed their pine.

‘But tak’ ye up my bugle-horn,
  And blaw three blasts for me;
I’ve a brither in the Kingis court
  Will come me quickly ti’.’—        110

‘O gin ye hae a brither on earth
  That ye love better nor me,
Ye blaw the horn yoursel’,’ he says,
  ‘For ae blast I’ll not gie.’

She set the horn untill her mouth,
  And blawn three blasts sae shrill;
Sweet Willy heard i’ the Kingis court,
  And came her quickly till…

[Word is to the kitchen gane,
  And word is to the ha’,        120
Bold Arthur’s lost his little foot-page,
  To the green-wood stown awa’.]

And word had gane to the Kingis court,
  To the King himsel’ [at dine]
‘Now, by my fay,’ the King can say,        125
  [‘Sweet Willy we maun find.’]

‘Bring me my steed,’ then cry’d the King,
  ‘My bow and arrows keen;
I’ll ride mysel’ to good green-wood
  An’ see what’s to be seen.’        130

‘An’t please your grace,’ says Bold Arthur,
  ‘My liege I’ll gang you wi’
An’ try to find my little foot-page
  That’s stray’d awa’ frae me.’

O they have hunted in good green-wood
  The back but and the rae,
And they’ve drawn near Brown Robin’s bow’r
  About the close of day.

Then out it spak’ the King in haste,
  Says, ‘Arthur, look an’ see        140
Gin that be no your little foot-page
  That leans against yon tree?’

Bold Arthur took his bugle-horn,
  And blew a blast sae shrill,
Sweet Willy started at the sound        145
  And ran him quickly till.

‘O wanted ye your meat, Willy?
  Or wanted ye your fee?
Or get ye ever an angry word,
  That ye ran awa’ frae me?’—        150

‘I wanted nought, my master dear;
  To me ye aye was good;
I came but to see my ae brither
  That wons in this green-wood.’

Then out and spak’ the King again,
  Says, ‘Bonny boy, tell to me
Who lives into yon bigly bow’r,
  Stands by yon green oak-tree?’

‘O pardon me,’ says Sweet Willy,
  My liege, I daurna tell;        160
And I pray you go no near that bow’r,
  For fear they do you fell.’—

‘ O haud your tongue, my bonny boy,
  For I winna be said nay;
But I will gang that bow’r within,        165
  Betide me weal or wae.’

They’ve lighted off their milk-white steeds,
  And saftly enter’d in;
And then they saw her, Rose the Red,
  Nursing her bonny young son.        170

‘Now, by the rood,’ the King could say,
  ‘This is a comely sight;
I trow, instead of a forrester,
  This is a lady bright!’

Then out it spake White Lilly
  And fell down on her knee:
‘O pardon us, my gracious liege,
  An’ our story I’ll tell to thee.

‘Our father was a wealthy lord,
  That wonn’d in Barnèsdale;        180
But we had a wicked step-mother,
  That wrought us mickle bale.

‘Yet she had twa as fu’ fair sons
  As ever the sun did see;
An’ the tane o’ them lo’ed my sister dear,        185
  An’ the tother said he lo’ed me.’

Then out and spak’ him Bold Arthur,
  As by the King he stood,
‘Now, this should be my White Lilly,
  An’ that should be Rose the Red!’        190

Then in it came him Brown Robin
  Frae hunting o’ the deer,
But whan he saw the King was there,
  He started back for fear.

The King has ta’en him by the hand
  And bade him naething dread;
Says, ‘Ye maun leave the good green-wood,
  Come to the court wi’ speed.’

Then up he took Brown Robin’s son,
  And set him on his knee;        200
Says, ‘Gin ye live to wield a bran’,
  My bowman ye sall be.’

The King he sent for robes o’ green,
  And girdles o’ shining gold;
He gart the ladies be array’d        205
  Most comely to behold.

They’ve doen them unto Mary Kirk,
  And there gat fair weddìng,
And whan the news spread o’er the lan’,
  For joy the bells did ring.        210

Then out it spak’ her Rose the Red,
  And a hearty laugh laugh’d she;
‘I wonder what would our step-dame say,
  Gin she this sight did see!’
GLOSS:  bigly] commodious, habitable.  makes] means.  bruik] brook enjoy.  mane] moan.  abune their bree] above their brows.  hight] was called.  Roun] roan, red.  knave-bairn] man-child.  pine] pain.  dreed] endured.  wons] dwells.  fell] kill.  bale] harm.


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