Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
The Twa Sisters
THERE 1 was twa sisters in a bowr,
  Binnorie, O Binnorie!
There cam a knight to be their wooer,
  By the bonnie milldams o’ Binnorie.
He courted the eldest wi glove and ring,        5
But he loved the youngest abune a’ thing.
He courted the eldest wi brotch and knife,
But lovd the youngest as his life.
The eldest she was vexèd sair,
And much envi’d her sister fair.        10
Upon a morning fair and clear,
She cried upon her sister dear:
‘O sister, come to yon sea stran,
An see our father’s ships come to lan.’
She’s taen her by the milk-white han,        15
An led her down to yon sea stran.
The youngest stood upon a stane,
The eldest came and threw her in.
She took her by the middle sma,
An dashed her bonnie back to the jaw.        20
‘O sister, sister, tak my han,
An Ise mack you heir to a’ my lan.
‘O sister, sister, tak my middle
An yes get my goud and my gouden girdle.
‘O sister, sister, save my life,        25
An I swear Ise never be nae man’s wife.
‘Foul fa the han that I should tacke,
It twind me an my wardles make.
‘Your cherry cheeks an yallow hair
Gars me gae laiden for evermair.’        30
Sometimes she sank, an sometimes she swam,
Till she came down yon bonny mill-dam.
O out it came the miller’s son,
An saw the fair maid swimmin in.
‘O father, father, draw your dam,        35
Here’s either a mermaid or a swan.’
The miller quickly drew the dam,
And there he found a drownd woman.
You coudna see her yellow hair
For gold and pearle that were so rare.        40
You coudna see her middle sma
For gouden rings that was sae gryte.
An by there came a harper fine,
That harped to the king at dine.
When he did look that lady upon,        45
He sighd and made a heavy moan.
He’s taen three locks o her yallow hair,
An wi them strung his harp sae fair.
The first tune he did play and sing,
Was, ‘Farewell to my mother the queen.’        50
The lasten tune that he playd then,
  Binnorie, O Binnorie!
Was, ‘Wae to my sister, fair Ellen.’
  By the bonnie milldams o’ Binnorie.
Note 1. From Jamieson-Brown MS. Another version was printed in Wit’s Restor’d, 1658. “This is one of the very few old ballads,” says Professor Child (Eng. and Scot. Pop. Bal. Part I, p. 118), “which are not extinct in the British Isles. Even drawing-room versions are spoken of as current, generally traced to some old nurse, who sang them to young ladies. It has been found in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and was very early in print.” [back]

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