The Ballad: “Earl Richard”


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Earl Richard (1802 version)

“O lady, rock never your young son young,
  One hour langer for me;
For I have a sweetheart, in Garlioch Wells,
  I love far better than thee.

“The very sole o’ that ladye’s foot
  Than thy face is far mair white.”—
—“But, nevertheless, now, Erl Richard,
  Ye will bide in my bower a’ night?”—

She birled him wi’ the ale and wine,
  As they sat down to sup;
A living man he laid him down,
  But I wot he ne’er rose up.

Then up and spake the popinjay,
  That flew aboun her head;—
—“Lady! keep weel your grene cleiding
  Frae gude Erl Richard’s bleid.”—

—“O better I’ll keep my grene cleiding
  Frae gude Erl Richard’s bleid,
Than thou canst keep thy clattering toung,
  That trattles in thy head.”—

She has call’d upon her bower maidens,
  She has call’d them ane by ane;—
—“There lies a deid man in my bowr:
  I wish that he were gane.”—

They hae booted him, and spurred him,
  As he was wont to ride;
A hunting horn tied round his waist,
  A sharp sword by his side,
And they hae had him to the wan water,
  For a’ men call it Clyde.

Then up and spake the popinjay,
  That sat upon the tree—
—“What hae ye done wi’ Erl Richard?
  Ye were his gaye ladye.”—

—“Come down, come down, my bonny bird,
  And sit upon my hand;
And thou sall hae a cage o’ gowd,
  Where thou hast but the wand.”—

—“Awa! awa! ye ill woman:
  Nae cage o’ gowd for me;
As ye hae dune to Erl Richard,
  Sae wad ye do to me.”—

O it fell anes, upon a day,
  The king was boun’ to ride;
And he has mist him, Erl Richard,
  Should hae ridden on his right side.

The ladye turn’d her round about,
  Wi meikle mournfu’ din—
—“It fears me sair o’ Clyde water,
  That he is drown’d therein.”—

—“Gar douk, gar douk,” the king he cried,
  “Gar douk for gold and fee;
O wha will douk for Erl Richard’s sake,
  Or wha will douk for me?”—

They douked in at ae weil-head,
  And out aye at the other—
—“We can douk nae mair for Erl Richard,
  Altho’ he were our brother.”—

It fell that, in that ladye’s castle,
  The king was boun’ to bed;
And up and spake the popinjay
  That flew abune his head.

—“Leave off your douking on the day,
  And douk upon the night;
And wherever that sackless knight lies slain,
  The candles will burn bright.”—

—“O there’s a bird, within this bower,
  That sings baith sad and sweet;
O there’s a bird within your bower,
  Keeps me frae my night’s sleep.”—

They left the douking on the day,
  And douked upon the night;
And, where that sackless knight lay slain,
  The candles burned bright.

The deepest pot in a’ the linn,
  They fand Erl Richard in;
A grene turf tyed across his breast,
  To keep that gude lord down.

Then up and spake the king himsell,
  When he saw the deadly wound—
—“O wha has slain my right hand man,
  That held my hawk and hound?”—

Then up and spake the popinjay,
  Says—“What needs a’ this din?
It was his light lemman took his life,
  And hided him in the linn.”—

She swore her by the grass sae grene,
  Sae did she by the corn,
She had na’ seen him, Erl Richard,
  Since Moninday at morn.

—“Put na the wyte on me,” she said;
  “It was my may Catherine.”—
Then they hae cut baith fern and thorn,
  To burn that maiden in.

It wadna take upon her cheik,
  Nor yet upon her chin;
Nor yet upon her yellow hair,
  To cleanse the deadly sin.

Out they hae ta’en her, may Catherine,
  And put her mistress in:
The flame tuik fast upon her cheik,
  Tuik fast upon her chin,
Tuik fast upon her fair bodye—
  She burn’d like hollins grene.