Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
21. The Battle of Otterburn
Traditional Ballads
IT fell about the Lammus time,
  When the muir-men won 1 their hay,
That the doughty Earl Douglas went
  Into England to catch a prey.
He chose the Gordons and the Graemes,        5
  With the Lindsays light and gay;
But the Jardines wadna wi him ride,
  And they rued it to this day.
And he has burnt the dales o Tine
  And part of Almonshire.        10
And three good towers on Roxburgh fells
  He left them all on fire.
Then he marched up to Newcastle,
  And rode it round about:
“O whae’s the lord of this castle,        15
  Or whae’s the lady o’t?”
But up spake proud Lord Piercy then,
  And O but he spake hie! 2
“I am the lord of this castle,
  And my wife’s the lady gaye.”        20
“If you are lord of this castle,
  Sae weel it pleases me;
For ere I cross the borden again
  The ane of us shall die.”
He took a lang speir in his hand,        25
  Was made of the metal free,
And for to meet the Douglas then
  He rode most furiously.
But O how pale his lady lookd,
  Frae off the castle wa,        30
When down before the Scottish spear
  She saw brave Piercy fa!
How pale and wan his lady lookd,
  Frae off the castle hieght,
When she beheld her Piercy yield        35
  To Doughty Douglas’ might!
“Had we twa been upon the green,
  And never an eye to see,
I should have had ye flesh and fell;
  But your sword shall gae wi me.”        40
“But gae 3 you up to Otterburn,
  And there wait dayes three,
And if I come not ere three days’ end
  A fause 4 lord ca ye me.”
“The Otterburn’s a bonny burn,        45
  ’Tis pleasant there to be,
But there is naught at Otterburn
  To feed my men and me.
“The deer rins wild owr hill and dale,
  The birds fly wild frae tree to tree,        50
And there is neither bread nor kale 5
  To fend 6 my men and me.
“But I will stay at Otterburn,
  Where you shall welcome be;
And if ye come not at three days’ end        55
  A coward I’ll ca thee.”
“Then gae your ways to Otterburn,
  And there wait dayes three;
And if I come not ere three days’ end
  A coward ye’s ca me.”        60
They lighted high on Otterburn,
  Upon the bent 7 so brown,
They lighted high on Otterburn,
  And threw their pallions 8 down.
And he that had a bonny boy        65
  Sent his horses to grass,
And he that had not a bonny boy,
  His ain 9 servant he was.
But up then spak a little page,
  Before the peep of the dawn;        70
“O waken ye, waken ye, my good lord,
  For Piercy’s hard at hand!”
“Ye lie, ye lie, ye loud liar,
  Sae loud I hear ye lie!
The Piercy hadna men yestreen 10        75
  To dight 11 my men and me.
“But I have seen a dreary dream;
  Beyond the isle o Sky;
I saw a dead man won the fight,
  And I think that man was I.”        80
He belted on his good broad-sword
  And to the field he ran,
Where he met wi the proud Piercy,
  And a’ his goodly train.
When Piercy wi the Douglas met,        85
  I wat he was right keen;
They swakked 12 their swords till sair they swat,
  And the blood ran them between.
But Piercy wi his good broad-sword,
  Was made o the metal free,        90
Has wounded Douglas on the brow
  Till backward he did flee.
Then he calld on his little page,
  And said, Run speedily,
And bring my ain dear sister’s son,        95
  Sir Hugh Montgomery.
[Who, when he saw the Douglas bleed,
  His heart was wonder wae:
“Now, by my sword, that haughty lord
  Shall rue before he gae.”        100
“My nephew bauld,” the Douglas said,
  “What boots the death of ane? 13
Last night I dreamed a dreary dream,
  And I ken the day’s thy ain. 14
“I dreamd I saw a battle fought        105
  Beyond the isle o Sky,
When lo! a dead man wan the field,
  And I thought that man was I.
“My wound is deep, I fain wad sleep,
  Nae mair I’ll fighting see;        110
Gae lay me in the breaken 15 bush
  That grows on yonder lee. 16
“But tell na ane of my brave men
  That I lye bleeding wan,
But let the name of Douglas still        115
  Be shouted in the van.
“And bury me here on this lee,
  Beneath the blooming briar,
And never let a mortal ken
  A kindly Scot lyes here.”        120
He liftit up that noble lord,
  Wi the saut tear in his ee,
And hid him in the breaken bush,
  On yonder lily lee.
The moon was clear, the day drew near,        125
  The spears in flinters flew,
But mony gallant Englishman
  Ere day the Scotsman slew.
Sir Hugh Montgomery he rode
  Thro all the field in sight,        130
And loud the name of Douglas still
  He urgd wi a’ his might.
The Gordons good, in English blood
  They steeped their hose and shoon,
The Lindsays flew like fire about,        135
  Till a’ the fray was doon.]
When stout Sir Hugh wi Piercy met,
  I wat he was right fain;
They swakked their swords till sair they swat,
  And the blood ran down like rain.        140
“O yield thee, Piercy,” said Sir Hugh,
  “O yield, or ye shall die!”
“Fain wad I yield,” proud Piercy said,
  “But neer to loun 17 like thee.”
“Thou shalt not yield to knave nor loun,        145
  Nor shalt thou yield to me;
But yield thee to the breaken bush
  That grows on yonder lee.”
“I will not yield to bush or brier,
  Nor will I yield to thee;        150
But I will yield to Lord Douglas,
  Or sir Hugh Montgomery.”
[When Piercy knew it was Sir Hugh,
  He fell low on his knee,
But soon he raisd him up again,        155
  Wi mickle courtesy.]
He left not an Englishman on the field
.  .  .  .  .  .  .
That he hadna either killd or taen
  Ere his heart’s blood was cauld.
Note 1. High. [back]
Note 2. Go.  [back]
Note 3. False. [back]
Note 4. Broth. [back]
Note 5. Support. [back]
Note 6. Grassy field. [back]
Note 7. Pavilions. [back]
Note 8. Own. [back]
Note 9. Last night. [back]
Note 10. Dress; attack. [back]
Note 11. Smote. [back]
Note 12. One. [back]
Note 13. Own. [back]
Note 14. Fern. [back]
Note 15. Meadow. [back]
Note 16. Fellow. [back]
Note 17. Lives. [back]


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