The Ballad: “The Dowie Dens of Yarrow”


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The Dowie Dens of Yarrow
Late at e'en, drinking the wine,
  And ere they paid the lawing,
They set a combat them between,
  To fight it in the dawing.

"O stay at hame, my noble lord!
  O stay at hame, my marrow!
My cruel brother will you betray,
  On the dowie houms of Yarrow.”

“O fare ye weel, my ladye gaye !
  O fare ye weel, my Sarah!
For I maun gae, though I ne'er return,
  Frae the dowie banks o' Yarrow.

She kissed his cheek, she kaimed his hair,
  As oft she had done before O;
She belted him with his noble brand,
  And he's awa' to Yarrow.

As he gaed up the Tennies bank,
  I wot he gaed wi' sorrow,
Till, down in a den, he spied nine arm'd men,
  On the dowie houms of Yarrow.

“O come ye here to part your land.
  The bonnie forest thorough ?
Or come ye here to wield your brand,
  On the dowie houms of Yarrow?

"I come not here to part my land,
  And neither to beg nor borrow;
I come to wield my noble brand,
  On the bonny banks of Yarrow.

"If I see all, ye're nine to ane;
  And that's an unequal marrow ;
Yet will I fight, while lasts my brand.
  On the bonny banks of Yarrow."

Four has he hurt, and five has slain,
  On the bloody braes of Yarrow,
Till that stubborn knight came him behind,
  And ran his bodie thorough.

“Gae hame, gae hame, good-brother John,
  And tell your sister Sarah,
To come and lift her leafu' lord!
  He's sleepin sound on Yarrow."

“Yestreen I dream'd a dolefu' dream ;
  I fear there will be sorrow !
I dream'd, I pu'd the heather green,
  Wi’ my true love, on Yarrow.

“O gentle wind, that bloweth south,
  From where my love repaireth.
Convey a kiss from his dear mouth.
  And tell me how he fareth!

“But in the glen strive armed men;
  They've wrought me dole and sorrow;
They've slain the comeliest knight they've slain–
  He bleeding lies on Yarrow.”

As she sped down yon high high hill,
  She gaed wi' dole and sorrow,
And in the den spyed ten slain men,
  On the dowie banks of Yarrow.

She kiss'd his cheek, she kaim'd his hair,
  She search'd his wounds all thorough;
She kiss'd them, till her lips grew red,
  On the dowie houms of Yarrow.

“Now, haud your tongue, my daughter dear!
  For a' this breeds but sorrow;
I'll wed ye to a better lord,
  Than him ye lost on Yarrow.”

“O haud your tongue, my father dear !
  Ye mind me but of sorrow ;
A fairer rose did never bloom
  Than now lies cropp'd on Yarrow.”