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.
  
376. Binnorie
  
THERE were twa sisters sat in a bour; 
  Binnorie, O Binnorie! 
There cam a knight to be their wooer, 
  By the bonnie milldams o' Binnorie. 
 
He courted the eldest with glove and ring,         5
But he lo'ed the youngest abune a thing. 
 
The eldest she was vexèd sair, 
And sair envìed her sister fair. 
 
Upon a morning fair and clear, 
She cried upon her sister dear:  10
 
'O sister, sister tak my hand, 
And let 's go down to the river-strand.' 
 
She 's ta'en her by the lily hand, 
And led her down to the river-strand. 
 
The youngest stood upon a stane,  15
The eldest cam and push'd her in. 
 
'O sister, sister reach your hand! 
And ye sall be heir o' half my land: 
 
'O sister, reach me but your glove! 
And sweet William sall be your love.'  20
 
Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam, 
Until she cam to the miller's dam. 
 
Out then cam the miller's son, 
And saw the fair maid soummin' in. 
 
'O father, father draw your dam!  25
There 's either a mermaid or a milk-white swan.' 
 
The miller hasted and drew his dam, 
And there he found a drown'd womèn. 
 
You couldna see her middle sma', 
Her gowden girdle was sae braw.  30
 
You couldna see her lily feet, 
Her gowden fringes were sae deep. 
 
All amang her yellow hair 
A string o' pearls was twisted rare. 
 
You couldna see her fingers sma',  35
Wi' diamond rings they were cover'd a'. 
 
And by there cam a harper fine, 
That harpit to the king at dine. 
 
And when he look'd that lady on, 
He sigh'd and made a heavy moan.  40
 
He 's made a harp of her breast-bane, 
Whose sound wad melt a heart of stane. 
 
He 's ta'en three locks o' her yellow hair, 
And wi' them strung his harp sae rare. 
 
He went into her father's hall,  45
And there was the court assembled all. 
 
He laid his harp upon a stane, 
And straight it began to play by lane. 
 
'O yonder sits my father, the King, 
And yonder sits my mother, the Queen;  50
 
'And yonder stands my brother Hugh, 
And by him my William, sweet and true.' 
 
But the last tune that the harp play'd then— 
  Binnorie, O Binnorie! 
Was, 'Woe to my sister, false Helèn!'  55
  By the bonnie milldams o' Binnorie. 
 
GLOSS:  soummin'] swimming.
 
 
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