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.
 
14. The Laily Worm
 
and the Machrel of the Sea
 
 
I

‘I WAS but seven year auld
  When my mither she did dee;
My father married the ae warst woman
  The warld did ever see.
 
II

‘For she has made me the laily worm,
        5
  That lies at the fit o’ the tree,
An’ my sister Masery she’s made
  The machrel of the sea.
 
III

‘An’ every Saturday at noon
  The machrel comes to me,        10
An’ she takes my laily head
  An’ lays it on her knee,
She kaims it wi’ a silier kaim,
  An’ washes’t in the sea.
 
IV

‘Seven knights hae I slain,
        15
  Sin I lay at the fit of the tree,
An’ ye war na my ain father,
  The eighth ane ye should be.’—
 
V

‘Sing on your song, ye laily worm,
  That ye did sing to me.’—        20
‘I never sung that song but what
  I would sing it to thee.
 
VI

‘I was but seven year auld,
  When my mither she did dee;
My father married the ae warst woman        25
  The warld did ever see.
 
VII

‘For she changed me to the laily worm,
  That lies at the fit o’ the tree,
And my sister Masery
  To the machrel of the sea.        30
 
VIII

‘And every Saturday at noon
  The machrel comes to me,
An’ she takes my laily head
  An’ lays it on her knee,
An’ kames it wi’ a siller kame,        35
  An’ washes it i’ the sea.
 
IX

‘Seven knights hae I slain
  Sin I lay at the fit o’ the tree;
An’ ye war na my ain father,
  The eighth ane ye should be.’        40
 
X

He sent for his lady,
  As fast as send could he:
‘Whar is my son that ye sent frae me,
  And my daughter, Lady Masery?’—
 
XI

‘Your son is at our king’s court,
        45
  Serving for meat an’ fee,
An’ your daughter’s at our queen’s court,
  The queen’s maiden to be.’—
 
XII

‘Ye lee, ye lee, ye ill woman,
  Sae loud as I hear ye lee;        50
My son’s the laily worm,
  That lies at the fit o’ the tree,
And my daughter, Lady Masery,
  Is the machrel of the sea!’
 
XIII

She has tane a siller wan’,
        55
  An’ gi’en him strokès three,
And he’s started up the bravest knight
  That ever your eyes did see.
 
XIV

She has ta’en a small horn,
  An’ loud an’ shrill blew she,        60
An’ a’ the fish came her untill
  But the machrel of the sea:
‘Ye shapeit me ance an unseemly shape,
  An’ ye’s never mare shape me.’
 
XV

He has sent to the wood
        65
  For whins and for hawthorn,
An’ he has ta’en that gay lady,
  An’ there he did her burn.
 
GLOSS:  laily] loathly.
 

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