Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Anonymous. 17th Cent.
  
374. Edom o' Gordon
  
IT fell about the Martinmas, 
  When the wind blew shrill and cauld, 
Said Edom o' Gordon to his men, 
  'We maun draw to a hauld. 
 
'And what a hauld sall we draw to,         5
  My merry men and me? 
We will gae to the house o' the Rodes, 
  To see that fair ladye.' 
 
The lady stood on her castle wa', 
  Beheld baith dale and down;  10
There she was ware of a host of men 
  Cam riding towards the town. 
 
'O see ye not, my merry men a', 
  O see ye not what I see? 
Methinks I see a host of men;  15
  I marvel wha they be.' 
 
She ween'd it had been her lovely lord, 
  As he cam riding hame; 
It was the traitor, Edom o' Gordon, 
  Wha reck'd nae sin nor shame.  20
 
She had nae sooner buskit hersell, 
  And putten on her gown, 
But Edom o' Gordon an' his men 
  Were round about the town. 
 
They had nae sooner supper set,  25
  Nae sooner said the grace, 
But Edom o' Gordon an' his men 
  Were lighted about the place. 
 
The lady ran up to her tower-head, 
  Sae fast as she could hie,  30
To see if by her fair speeches 
  She could wi' him agree. 
 
'Come doun to me, ye lady gay, 
  Come doun, come doun to me; 
This night sall ye lig within mine arms,  35
  To-morrow my bride sall be.' 
 
'I winna come down, ye fals Gordon, 
  I winna come down to thee; 
I winna forsake my ain dear lord, 
  That is sae far frae me.'  40
 
'Gie owre your house, ye lady fair, 
  Gie owre your house to me; 
Or I sall brenn yoursel therein, 
  But and your babies three.' 
 
'I winna gie owre, ye fals Gordon,  45
  To nae sic traitor as yee; 
And if ye brenn my ain dear babes, 
  My lord sall mak ye dree. 
 
'Now reach my pistol, Glaud, my man, 
  And charge ye weel my gun;  50
For, but an I pierce that bluidy butcher, 
  My babes, we been undone!' 
 
She stood upon her castle wa', 
  And let twa bullets flee: 
She miss'd that bluidy butcher's heart,  55
  And only razed his knee. 
 
'Set fire to the house!' quo' fals Gordon, 
  All wud wi' dule and ire: 
'Fals lady, ye sall rue this deid 
  As ye brenn in the fire!'  60
 
Wae worth, wae worth ye, Jock, my man! 
  I paid ye weel your fee; 
Why pu' ye out the grund-wa' stane, 
  Lets in the reek to me? 
 
'And e'en wae worth ye, Jock, my man!  65
  I paid ye weel your hire; 
Why pu' ye out the grund-wa' stane, 
  To me lets in the fire?' 
 
'Ye paid me weel my hire, ladye, 
  Ye paid me weel my fee:  70
But now I'm Edom o' Gordon's man— 
  Maun either do or die.' 
 
O then bespake her little son, 
  Sat on the nurse's knee: 
Says, 'Mither dear, gie owre this house,  75
  For the reek it smithers me.' 
 
'I wad gie a' my gowd, my bairn, 
  Sae wad I a' my fee, 
For ae blast o' the western wind, 
  To blaw the reek frae thee.'  80
 
O then bespake her dochter dear— 
  She was baith jimp and sma': 
'O row me in a pair o' sheets, 
  And tow me owre the wa'!' 
 
They row'd her in a pair o' sheets,  85
  And tow'd her owre the wa'; 
But on the point o' Gordon's spear 
  She gat a deadly fa'. 
 
O bonnie, bonnie was her mouth, 
  And cherry were her cheiks,  90
And clear, clear was her yellow hair, 
  Whereon the red blood dreips. 
 
Then wi' his spear he turn'd her owre; 
  O gin her face was wane! 
He said, 'Ye are the first that e'er  95
  I wish'd alive again.' 
 
He turn'd her owre and owre again; 
  O gin her skin was white! 
'I might hae spared that bonnie face 
  To hae been some man's delight. 100
 
'Busk and boun, my merry men a', 
  For ill dooms I do guess; 
I canna look in that bonnie face 
  As it lies on the grass.' 
 
'Wha looks to freits, my master dear, 105
  It 's freits will follow them; 
Let it ne'er be said that Edom o' Gordon 
  Was daunted by a dame.' 
 
But when the lady saw the fire 
  Come flaming owre her head, 110
She wept, and kiss'd her children twain, 
  Says, 'Bairns, we been but dead.' 
 
The Gordon then his bugle blew, 
  And said, 'Awa', awa'! 
This house o' the Rodes is a' in a flame; 115
  I hauld it time to ga'.' 
 
And this way lookit her ain dear lord, 
  As he cam owre the lea; 
He saw his castle a' in a lowe, 
  As far as he could see. 120
 
The sair, O sair, his mind misgave, 
  And all his heart was wae: 
'Put on, put on, my wighty men, 
  Sae fast as ye can gae. 
 
'Put on, put on, my wighty men, 125
  Sae fast as ye can drie! 
For he that 's hindmost o' the thrang 
  Sall ne'er get good o' me.' 
 
Then some they rade, and some they ran, 
  Out-owre the grass and bent; 130
But ere the foremost could win up, 
  Baith lady and babes were brent. 
 
And after the Gordon he is gane, 
  Sae fast as he might drie; 
And soon i' the Gordon's foul heart's blude 135
  He 's wroken his dear ladye. 
 
GLOSS:  town] stead.  buskit] attired.  wud] mad.  grund-wa'] ground-wall.  jimp] slender, trim.  row] roll, wrap.  Busk and boun] trim up and prepare to go.  freits] ill omens.  lowe] flame.  wighty] stout, doughty.
 
 
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