Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Waly, Waly, Love Be Bonny
O WALY, 1 waly, up the bank,
  And waly, waly, down the brae,
And waly, waly, yon burn-side
  Where I and my Love wont to gae!
I lean’d my back unto an aik,        5
  I thocht it was a trustie tree;
But first it bow’d and syne it brak,—
  Sae my true Love did lichtlie me.
O waly, waly, gin love be bonnie
  A little time while it is new!        10
But when ’tis auld, it waxeth cauld,
  And fades awa’ like morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my heid?
  Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true Love has me forsook,        15
  And says he’ll never lo’e me mair.
Now Arthur’s Seat 2 sall be my bed;
  The sheets sall ne’er be ’filed by me:
Saint Anton’s Well sall be my drink,
  Since my true Love has forsaken me.        20
Marti’mas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
  And shake the green leaves aff the tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
  For of my life I am wearie.
’Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,        25
  Nor blawing snaw’s inclemencie;
’Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
  But my Love’s heart grown cauld to me.
When we cam in by Glasgow toun
  We were a comely sicht to see;        30
My love was clad in black velvèt,
  And I mysel in cramasie.
But had I wist, before I kist,
  That love had been sae ill to win;
I had lock’d my heart in a case o’ gowd,        35
  And pinn’d it wi’ a siller pin.
But O! if my young babe were born,
  And set upon the nurse’s knee;
And I mysel were dead and gane,
  And the green grass growing over me!        40
Note 1. There is some doubt about the date of this lament. It is believed by some to be a portion of the ballad Lord Jamie Douglas, and therefore as late as 1670. Professor Ayton believes that the verse belongs to the sixteenth century. Rev. S. Baring-Gould has discovered and printed in his Songs of the West, 1892, a traditional song of the West-Counties, which has the two stanzas:

  I leaned my back against an oak,
But first it bent and then it broke;
Untrusty as I found that tree,
So did my false love prove to me.
I wish—I wish—but ’tis in vain
I wish I had my heart again!
With silver chain and diamond locks
I’d fasten it in a golden box.
Note 2. Now Arthur Seat: the hill by Edinburgh, near the foot of which is St. Anthony’s Well. [back]

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