Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
26. Kinmont Willie
Traditional Ballads
O HAVE ye na heard o the fause Sakelde?
  O have ye na heard o the keen Lord Scroop?
How they hae taen bauld Kinmont Willie,
  On Hairibee to hang him up?
Had Willie had but twenty men,        5
  But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont taen,
  Wi eight score in his companie.
They band his legs beneath the steed,
  They tied his hands behind his back;        10
They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
  And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.
They led him thro the Liddel-rack,
  And also thro the Carlisle sands;
They brought him to Carlisle castell,        15
  To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.
“My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,
  And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the border law?
  Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch?”        20
“Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver! 1
  There’s never a Scot shall set ye free;
Before ye cross my castle-yate, 2
  I trow ye shall take farewell o me.”
“Fear na ye that, my lord,” quo Willie;        25
  “By the faith o my bodie, Lord Scroop,” he said,
“I never yet lodged in a hostelrie
  But I paid my lawing 3 before I gaed.”
Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
  In Branksome Ha where that he lay,        30
That Lord Scroope has taen the Kinmont Willie
  Between the hours of night and day.
He has taen the table wi his hand,
  He garrd 4 the red wine spring on hie;
“Now Christ’s curse on my head,” he said,        35
  “But avenged of Lord Scroop I’ll be!
“O is my basnet 5 a widow’s curch?
  Or my lance a wand of the willow-tree?
Or my arm a ladye’s lilye hand?
  That an English lord should lightly 6 me.        40
“And have they taen him Kinmont Willie,
  Against the truce of Border tide,
And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Is keeper here on the Scottish side?
“And have they een taen him Kinmont Willie,        45
  Withouten either dread or fear,
And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Can back a steed, or shake a spear?
“O were there war between the lands,
  As well I wot that there is none,        50
I would slight 7 Carlisle castell high,
  Tho it were builded of marble-stone.
“I would set that castell in a low, 8
  And sloken 9 it with English blood;
There’s nevir a man in Cumberland        55
  Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.
“But since nae war’s between the lands,
  And there is peace, and peace should be,
I’ll neither harm English lad or lass,
  And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!”        60
He has calld him forty marchmen bauld,
  I trow they were of his ain name,
Except Sir Gilbert Elliot, calld
  The Laird of Stobs, I mean the same.
He has calld him forty marchmen bauld,        65
  Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch,
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld, 10
  And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.
There were five and five before them a’,
  Wi hunting-horns and bugles bright;        70
And five and five came wi Buccleuch,
  Like Warden’s men, arrayed for fight.
And five and five like a mason-gang,
  That carried the ladders lang and hie;
And five and five like broken men;        75
  And so they reached the Woodhouselee.
And as we crossed the Bateable Land,
  When to the English side we held,
The first o men that we met wi,
  Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde!        80
“Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?”
  Quo fause Sakelde; “come tell to me!”
“We go to hunt an English stag,
  Has trespassed on the Scots countrie.”
“Where be ye gaun, ye marshal-men?”        85
  Quo fause Sakelde; “come tell to me true!”
“We go to catch a rank reiver,
  Has broken faith wi the bauld Buccleuch.”
“Where are ye gaun, ye mason-lads,
  Wi a’ your ladders lang and hie?”        90
“We gang to herry 11 a corbie’s 12 nest,
  That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.”
“Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?”
  Quo fause Sakelde; “come tell to me!”
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,        95
  And the never a word o lear 13 had he.
“Why trespass ye on the English side
  Row-footed 14 outlaws, stand!” quo he;
The neer a word had Dickie to say,
  Sae he thrust the lance thro his fause bodie.        100
Then on we held for Carlisle toun,
  And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we crossd;
The water was great, and meikle of spait, 15
  But the nevir a horse nor man we lost.
And when we reached the Stanshaw-bank,        105
  The wind was rising loud and hie; 16
And there the laird garrd 17 leave our steeds,
  For fear that they should stamp and nie. 18
And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,
  The wind began full loud to blaw;        110
But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet
  When we came beneath the castel-wa.
We crept on knees, and held our breath,
  Till we placed the ladders against the wa;
And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell        115
  To mount the first before us a’.
He has taen the watchman by the throat,
  He flung him down upon the lead:
“Had there not been peace between our lands,
  Upon the other side thou hadst gaed.        120
“Now sound out, trumpets!” quo Buccleuch;
  “Let’s waken Lord Scroope right merrilie!”
Then loud the Warden’s trumpets blew
  “O whae dare meddle wi me?”
Then speedilie to wark we gaed,        125
  And raised the slogan 19 ane and a’,
  And cut a hole thro a sheet of lead,
And so we wan to the castel-ha.
They thought King James and a’ his men
  Had won the house wi bow and speir:        130
It was but twenty Scots and ten
  That put a thousand in sic a stear! 20
Wi coutlers and wi forehammers,
  We garrd the bars bang merrilie,
Untill we came to the inner prison,        135
  Where Willie o Kinmont he did lie.
And when we cam to the lower prison,
  Where Willie o Kinmont he did lie,
“O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
  Upon the morn that thou’s to die?”        140
“O I sleep saft, and I wake aft,
  It’s lang since sleeping was fleyd 21 frae me;
Gie my service back to my wyfe and bairns,
  And a’ gude fellows that speer 22 for me.”
Then Red Rowan has hente 23 him up,        145
  The starkest men in Teviotdale:
“Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
  Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell.
“Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!
  My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!” he cried;        150
“I’ll pay you for my lodging-maill 24
  When first we meet on the border-side.”
Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
  We bore him down the ladder lang;
At every stride Red Rowan made,        155
  I wot the Kinmont’s airns playd clang.
“O mony a time,” quo Kinmont Willie,
  “I have ridden horse baith wild and wood;
But a rougher beast than Red Rowan
  I ween my legs have neer bestrode.        160
“And mony a time,” quo Kinmont Willie,
  “I’ ve pricked a horse out oure the furs; 25
But since the day I backed a steed
  I nevir wore sic cumbrous spurs.”
We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank,        165
  When a’ the Carlisle bells were rung,
And a thousand men, in horse and foot,
  Cam wi the keen Lord Scroope along.
Buccleuch has turned to Eden Water,
  Even where it flowd frae bank to brim,        170
And he has plunged in wi a’ his band,
  And safely swam them thro the stream.
He turned him on the other side,
  And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he:
“If ye like na my visit in merry England,        175
  In fair Scotland come visit me!”
All sore astonished stood Lord Scroope,
  He stood as still as rock of stane;
He scarcely dared to trew his eyes
  When thro the water they had gane.        180
“He is either himsell a devil frae hell,
  Or else his mother a witch maun be;
I wad na have ridden that wan water
  For a’ the gowd in Christentie.”
Note 1. Prepare. [back]
Note 2. Make ready. [back]
Note 3. Ere. [back]
Note 4. Woe. [back]
Note 5. Robber. [back]
Note 6. Gate. [back]
Note 7. Bill. [back]
Note 8. Made. [back]
Note 9. Helmet. [back]
Note 10. Treat scornfully. [back]
Note 11. Demolish. [back]
Note 12. Flame. [back]
Note 13. Slake. [back]
Note 14. Armor-plates on shoulder. [back]
Note 15. Rob. [back]
Note 16. Crow’s. [back]
Note 17. Learning. [back]
Note 18. Rough-footed. [back]
Note 19. In high flood. [back]
Note 20. High. [back]
Note 21. Caused. [back]
Note 22. Neigh. [back]
Note 23. War-cry. [back]
Note 24. Stir. [back]
Note 25. Scared. [back]


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