Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
60. The Gay Goshawk

‘O WELL’S me o’ my gay goss-hawk,
  That he can speak and flee!
He’ll carry a letter to my love,
  Bring back another to me.’—

‘O how can I your true-love ken,
  Or how can I her know?
Whan frae her mouth I never heard couth,
  Nor wi’ my eyes her saw.’—

‘O well sall ye my true-love ken,
  As soon as you her see;        10
For, of a’ the flow’rs in fair England,
  The fairest flow’r is she.

‘At even at my love’s bower-door
  There grows a bowing birk,
An’ sit ye down and sing thereon,        15
  As she gangs to the kirk.

‘An’ four-and-twenty ladies fair
  Will wash and go to kirk,
But well shall ye my true-love ken,
  For she wears gowd on her skirt.        20

‘An’ four-and-twenty gay ladies
  Will to the mass repair,
But well sall ye my true-love ken,
  For she wears gowd on her hair.’

O even at that lady’s bower-door
  There grows a bowing birk,
An, he set down and sang thereon,
  As she gaed to the kirk.

‘O eet and drink, my marys a’,
  The wine flows you among,        30
Till I gang to my shot-window,
  An’ hear yon bonny bird’s song.

‘Sing on, sing on, my bonny bird,
  The song ye sang the streen,
For I ken by your sweet singin’        35
  You’re frae my true-love sen.’

O first he sang a merry song,
  An’ then he sang a grave,
An’ then he peck’d his feathers gray,
  To her the letter gave.        40

‘Ha, there’s a letter frae your love,
  He says he sent you three;
He canna wait your luve langer,
  But for your sake he’ll dee.

‘He bids you write a letter to him;
  He says he’s sent you five;
He canna wait your luve langer,
  Tho’ you’re the fairest alive.’—

‘Ye bid him bake his bridal-bread,
  And brew his bridal-ale,        50
An’ I’ll meet him in fair Scotland
  Lang, lang or it be stale.’

She’s doen her to her father dear
  Fa’n low down on her knee:
‘A boon, a boon, my father dear        55
  I pray you, grant it me!’—

‘Ask on, ask on, my daughter,
  An’ granted it sall be;
Except ae squire in fair Scotland,
  An’ him you sall never see.’—        60

‘The only boon, my father dear,
  That I do crave of thee,
Is, gin I die in southin lands,
  In Scotland to bury me.

‘An’ the firstin kirk that ye come till,
  Ye gar the bells be rung,
An’ the nextin kirk that ye come till,
  Ye gar the mass be sung.

‘An’ the thirdin kirk that ye come till,
  You deal gold for my sake,        70
An’ the fourthin kirk that ye come till,
  You tarry there till night.’

She is doen her to her bigly bow’r,
  As fast as she could fare,
An’she has tane a sleepy draught,        75
  That she had mixt wi’ care.

She’s laid her down upon her bed,
  An’ soon she’s fa’n asleep,
And soon o’er every tender limb
  Cauld death began to creep.        80

Whan night was flown, an’ day was come,
  Nae ane that did her see
But thought she was as surely dead
  As ony lady cou’d be.

Her father an’ her brothers dear
  Gar’d make to her a bier;
The tae half was o’ guid red gold,
  The tither o’ silver clear.

Her mither an’ her sisters fair
  Gar’d work for her a sark;        90
The tae half was o’ cambrick fine,
  The tither o’ needle wark.

The firstin kirk that they came till,
  They gar’d the bells be rung,
An’ the nextin kirk that they came till,        95
  They gar’d the mess be sung.

The thirdin kirk that they came till,
  They dealt gold for her sake,
An’ the fourthin kirk that they came till,
  Lo, there they met her make!        100

‘Lay down, lay down the bigly bier,
  Lat me the dead look on!’—
Wi’ cherry cheeks and ruby lips
  She lay and smil’d on him.

‘O ae sheave o’ your bread, true-love,
  An’ ae glass o’ your wine!
For I hae fasted for your sake
  These fully days is nine.

‘Gang hame, gang hame, my seven bold brothers,
  Gang hame and sound your horn;        110
An’ ye may boast in southin lands
  Your sister’s play’d you scorn!’
GLOSS:  couth] word.  marys] maidens.  shot-window] here=bow-window. the streen] yestreen.  bigly] commodious.  make] mate, lover.  sheave] slice.


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