Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
13. Kemp Owyne
 
 
I

HER mother died when she was young,
  Which gave her cause to make great moan;
Her father married the warst woman
  That ever lived in Christendom.
 
II

She servèd her wi’ foot and hand
        5
  In everything that she could dee,
Till once, in an unlucky time
  She threw her owre a craig o’ the sea.
 
III

Says, ‘Lie you there, dove Isabel,
  And all my sorrows lie wi’ thee!        10
Till Kemp Owyne come to the craig,
  And borrow you wi’ kisses three.’
 
IV

Her breath grew strang, her hair grew lang
  And twisted thrice about the tree,
And all the people, far and near,        15
  Thought that a savage beast was she.
 
V

And aye she cried for Kemp Owyne
  Gin that he would but com’ to her hand:—
Now word has gane to Kemp Owyne
  That siccan a beast was in his land.        20
 
VI

‘Now by my sooth,’ says Kemp Owyne,
  ‘This fiery beast I’ll gang to see’;
‘And by my sooth,’ says Segramour,
  ‘My ae brother, I’ll gang you wi’.’
 
VII

O they have biggit a bonny boat,
        25
  And they have set her to the sea;
But a mile before they reach’d the shore
  I wot she gar’d the red fire flee.
 
VIII

‘O brother, keep my boat afloat,
  An’ lat her na the land so near!        30
For the wicked beast she’ll sure go mad,
  An’ set fire to the land an’ mair.’
 
IX

Syne he has bent an arblast bow
  And aim’d an arrow at her head,
And swore, if she didna quit the land,        35
  Wi’ that same shaft to shoot her dead.
 
X

‘O out o’ my stythe I winna rise—
  And it is na for the fear o’ thee—
Till Kemp Owyne, the kingis son,
  Come to the craig an’ thrice kiss me.’        40
 
XI

Her breath was strang, her hair was lang
  And twisted thrice about the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
  ‘Come to the craig, an’ kiss with me!
 
XII

‘Here is a royal belt,’ she cried,
        45
  ‘That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,
  Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
  I swear my belt your death shall be.’        50
 
XIII

He’s louted him o’er the Eastmuir craig,
  As out she swang and about the tree;
He steppèd in, gave her a kiss,
  The royal belt he brought him wi’.
 
XIV

Her breath was strang, her hair was lang
        55
  And twisted twice about the tree,
As awa’ she gid, and again she swang—
  ‘Come to the craig, an’ kiss with me!
 
XV

‘Here is a royal ring,’ she said,
  ‘That I have found in the green sea;        60
And while your finger it is on,
  Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
  I swear my ring your death shall be.’
 
XVI

He’s louted him o’er the Eastmuir craig,
        65
  As out she swang and about the tree;
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
  The royal ring he brought him wi’.
 
XVII

Her breath was strang, her hair was lang
  And twisted ance about the tree,        70
As awa’ she gid and again she swang—
  ‘Come to the craig, an’ kiss with me!
 
XVIII

‘Here is a royal brand,’ she said,
  ‘That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,        75
  Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
  I swear my brand your death shall be.’
 
XIX

He’s louted him o’er the Eastmuir craig,
  As out she swang and about the tree;        80
He steppèd in, gave her a kiss
  That royal brand he brought him wi’.
 
XX

Her breath was sweet, her hair grew short,
  And twisted nane about the tree,
As awa’ she gid and again she came        85
  The fairest lady that ever could be.
 
XXI

‘O was it a wer-wolf into the wood,
  Or was it a mermaid into the sea,
Or was it a man or a vile woman,
  My true love, that mis-shapit thee?’—        90
 
XXII

‘It was na wer-wolf into the wood,
  Nor was it mermaid into the sea,
But and it was my vile stepmother,
  And wae and weary mote she be!
 
XXIII

‘O a heavier weird shall light her on,
        95
  Her hair sall grow rough an’ her teeth grow lang,
And [aye] on her four feet sall she gang,
  And aye in Wormeswood sall she won!’
 
GLOSS:  dee] do.  craig] rock.  Kemp] champion, knight.  borrow] ransom.  siccan] such.  biggit] built.  gar’d] made.  stythe] place, station.  louted] bowed.  gid] went.  into] in.  won] dwell.
 

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