Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
Thomas the Rhymer
TRUE 1 Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
  A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee;
And there he saw a ladye bright,
  Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
Her shirt was o’ the grass-green silk,        5
  Her mantle o’ the velvet fyne;
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
  Hang fifty siller bells and nine.
True Thomas he pu’d aff his cap,
  And louted low down on his knee:        10
‘All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
  For thy peer on earth I never did see.’
‘O no, O no, Thomas,’ she said,
  ‘That name does not belang to me;
I’m but the Queen o’ fair Elfland,        15
  That am hither come to visit thee.
‘Harp and carp, Thomas,’ she said;
  ‘Harp and carp along wi’ me;
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
  Sure of your bodie I will be!’        20
‘Betide me weal, betide me woe,
  That weird sall never daunten me;’
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
  All under the Eildon Tree.
‘Now, ye maun go wi’ me,’ she said,        25
  ‘True Thomas, ye maun go wi’ me,
And ye maun serve me seven years,
  Thro weal or woe as may chance to be.’
She’s mounted on her milk-white steed,
  She’s taen True Thomas up behind,        30
And aye, whene’er her bridle rang,
  The steed gaed swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on—
  The steed gaed swifter than the wind—
Until they reached a desart wide,        35
  And living land was left behind.
‘Light down, light down now, True Thomas,
  And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
  And I will shew you ferlies three.        40
‘O see ye not yon narrow road,
  So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
  Tho after it but few enquires.
‘And see ye not that braid, braid road,        45
  That lies across the lily leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
  Tho some call it the road to heaven.
‘And see ye not yon bonny road,
  That winds about the fernie brae?        50
That is the road to fair Elfland,
  Where thou and I this night maun gae.
‘But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
  Whatever ye may hear or see,
For, if you speak word in Elflyn-land,        55
  Ye’ll neer win back to your ain countrie.’
O they rade on, and farther on,
  And they waded rivers aboon the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon
  But they heard the roaring of the sea.        60
It was mirk, mirk night, there was nae star light,
  And they waded thro red blude to the knee;
For a’ the blude that’s shed on the earth
  Rins thro the springs o that countrie.
Syne they came to a garden green,        65
  And she pu’d an apple frae a tree:
‘Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,
  It will give thee the tongue that can never lee.’
‘My tongue is my ain,’ True Thomas he said,
  ‘A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!        70
I neither dought to buy or sell,
  At fair or tryst where I may be.
‘I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
  Nor ask of grace from fair ladye:’
‘Now hold thy peace, Thomas,’ she said,        75
  ‘For as I say, so must it be.’
He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
  And a pair o shoes of the velvet green,
And till seven years were gane and past
  True Thomas on earth was never seen.        80
Note 1. From Materials for Border Minstrelsy, and “communicated to Sir Walter Scott by Mrs. Christiana Greenwood, London, May 27, 1806 … from recitation of her mother and her aunt both then above sixty, who learned it in their childhood from Kirstan Scot, a very old woman, at Longnewton, near Jedburgh.” (Eng. and Scot. Pop. Bal., Cambridge Ed.). [back]

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