Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
73. Lady Maisry

THE YOUNG lords o’ the north country
  Have all a-wooing gone,
To win the love of Lady Maisry,
  But o’ them she wou’d hae none.

O they hae courted Lady Maisry
  Wi’ a’ kin kind of things;
An’ they hae sought her Lady Maisry
  Wi’ brooches an’ wi’ rings.

An’ they ha’ sought her Lady Maisry
  Frae father and frae mother;        10
An’ they ha’ sought her Lady Maisry
  Frae sister an’ frae brother.

An’ they ha’ follow’d her Lady Maisry
  Thro’ chamber an’ thro’ ha’;
But a’ that they cou’d say to her,        15
  Her answer still was Na.

‘O haud your tongues, young men,’ she says,
  ‘An’ think nae mair o’ me;
For I’ve gi’en my love to an English lord,
  An’ think nae mair o’ me.’        20

Her father’s kitchy-boy heard that,
  An ill death may he dee!
An’ he is on to her brother,
  As fast as gang cou’d he.

‘O is my father an’ my mother well,
  But an’ my brothers three?
Gin my sister Lady Maisry be well,
  There’s naething can ail me.’—

‘Your father an’ your mother is well,
  But an’ your brothers three;        30
Your sister Lady Maisry ’s well,
  So big wi’ bairn gangs she.’

‘Gin this be true you tell to me,
  My malison light on thee!
But gin it be a lie you tell,        35
  You sal be hangit hie.’

He ’s done him to his sister’s bow’r,
  Wi’ meikle doole an’ care;
An’ there he saw her Lady Maisry
  Kaiming her yellow hair.        40

‘O wha is aught that bairn,’ he says,
  ‘That ye sae big are wi’?
And gin ye winna own the truth,
  This moment ye sall dee.’

She turn’d her right and roun’ about,
  An’ the kame fell frae her han’;
A trembling seiz’d her fair body,
  An’ her rosy cheek grew wan.

‘O pardon me, my brother dear,
  An’ the truth I’ll tell to thee;        50
My bairn it is to Lord William,
  An’ he is betroth’d to me.’—

‘O cou’d na ye gotten dukes, or lords,
  Intill your ain country,
That ye draw up wi’ an English dog,        55
  To bring this shame on me?

‘But ye maun gi’ up the English lord,
  Whan your young babe is born;
For, gin you keep by him an hour langer,
  Your life sall be forlorn.’—        60

‘I will gi’ up this English blood,
  Till my young babe be born;
But the never a day nor hour langer,
  Tho’ my life should be forlorn.’—

‘O whare is a’ my merry young men,
  Whom I gi’ meat and fee,
To pu’ the thistle and the thorn,
  To burn this woman wi’?’—

She turn’d her head on her left shoulder,
  Saw her girdle hang on a tree;        70
‘O God bless them wha gave me that,
  They’ll never give more to me.

‘O whare will I get a bonny boy,
  To help me in my need,
To rin wi’ haste to Lord William,        75
  And bid him come wi’ speed?’—

O out it spake a bonny boy,
  Stood by her brother’s side:
‘O I would run your errand, lady,
  O’er a’ the world sae wide.        80

‘Aft have I run your errands, lady,
  Whan blawn baith win’ and weet;
But now I’ll rin your errand, lady,
  Wi’ saut tears on my cheek.’

O whan he came to broken briggs,
  He bent his bow and swam,
An’ whan he came to the green grass growin
  He slack’d his shoone and ran.

O whan he came to Lord William’s gates,
  He baed na to chap or ca’,        90
But set his bent bow till his breast,
  An’ lightly lap’ the wa’;
An’, or the porter was at the gate,
  The boy was i’ the ha’.

‘O is my biggins broken, boy?
  Or is my towers won?
Or is my lady lighter yet,
  Of a dear daughter or son?’—

‘Your biggin is na broken, sir,
  Nor is your towers won;        100
But the fairest lady in a’ the land
  For you this day maun burn.’—

‘O saddle me the black, the black,
  Or saddle me the brown;
O saddle me the swiftest steed        105
  That ever rade frae a town!’

Or he was near a mile awa’,
  She heard his wild horse sneeze:
‘Mend up the fire, my false brother,
  It’s na come to my knees.’        110

O whan he lighted at the gate,
  She heard his bridle ring;
‘Mend up the fire, my false brother,
  It’s far yet frae my chin.

‘Mend up the fire to me, brother,
  Mend up the fire to me;
For I see him comin’ hard an’ fast,
  Will soon mend it up to thee.

‘O gin my hands had been loose, Willy,
  Sae hard as they are boun’,        120
I would have turn’d me frae the gleed,
  And casten out your young son.’—

‘O I’ll gar burn for you, Maisry,
  Your father an’ your mother;
An’ I’ll gar burn for you, Maisry,        125
  Your sister an’ your brother.

‘An’ I’ll gar burn for you, Maisry,
  The chief of a’ your kin;
An’ the last bonfire that I come to,
  Mysel’ I will cast in.’        130
GLOSS:  aught] owed.  forlorn] lost to you.  baed] abode, tarried.  chap] knock.  biggins] buildings.  gleed] glowing fire, embers.


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