Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
42. Fair Annie

IT’S narrow, narrow, mak your bed,
  And learn to lie your lane;
For I’m gaun owre the sea, Fair Annie,
  A braw Bride to bring hame.
Wi’ her I will get gowd and gear,        5
  Wi’ you I ne’er gat nane.

‘But wha will bake my bridal bread,
  Or brew my bridal ale?
And wha will become my bright Bride,
  That I bring owre the dale?’—        10

‘It’s I will bake your bridal bread,
  And brew your bridal ale;
And I will welcome your bright Bride,
  That you bring owre the dale.’—

‘But she that welcomes my bright Bride
  Maun gang like maiden fair;
She maun lace on her robe sae jimp,
  And comely braid her hair.

‘Bind up, bind up your yellow hair,
  And tie it on your neck;        20
And see you look as maiden-like
  As the day that first we met.’—

‘O how can I gang maiden-like,
  When maiden I am nane?
Have I not borne six sons to thee,        25
  And am wi’ child again?’—

‘I’ll put cooks into my kitchen,
  And stewards in my hall,
And I’ll have bakers for my bread,
  And brewers for my ale;        30
But you’re to welcome my bright Bride,
  That I bring owre the dale.’

Three months and a day were gane and past,
  Fair Annie she gat word
That her love’s ship was come at last,        35
  Wi’ his bright young Bride aboard.

She’s ta’en her young son in her arms,
  Anither in her hand;
And she’s gane up to the highest tower,
  Looks over sea and land.        40

‘Come doun, come doun, my mother dear,
  Come aff the castle wa’!
I fear if langer ye stand there,
  Ye’ll let yoursell doun fa’.’

She ’s ta’en a cake o’ the best bread,
  A stoup o’ the best wine,
And a’ the keys upon her arm,
  And to the yett is gane.

‘O ye’re welcome hame, my ain gude lord,
  To your castles and your towers;        50
Ye’re welcome hame, my ain gude lord,
  To your ha’s, but and your bowers.
And welcome to your hame, fair lady!
  For a’ that ’s here is yours.’

‘O whatna lady ’s that, my lord,
  That welcomes you and me?
Gin I be lang about this place,
  Her friend I mean to be.’

Fair Annie served the lang tables
  Wi’ the white bread and the wine;        60
But ay she drank the wan water
  To keep her colour fine.

And aye she served the lang tables
  Wi’ the white bread and the brown,
And aye she turn’d her round about,        65
  Sae fast the tears fell doun.

She took a napkin lang and white,
  And hung it on a pin;
It was to wipe away the tears,
  As she gaed out and in.        70

When bells were rung and mass was sung,
  And a’ men bound for bed,
The bridegroom and the bonny Bride
  In ae chamber were laid.

Fair Annie’s ta’en a harp in her hand,
  To harp thir twa asleep;
But ay, as she harpit and she sang,
  Fu’ sairly did she weep.

‘O gin my sons were seven rats,
  Rinnin’ on the castle wa’,        80
And I mysell a great grey cat,
  I soon wad worry them a’!

‘O gin my sons were seven hares,
  Rinnin’ owre yon lily lea,
And I mysell a good greyhound,        85
  Soon worried they a’ should be!’

Then out and spak the bonny young Bride,
  In bride-bed where she lay:
‘That’s like my sister Annie,’ she says;
  ‘Wha is it doth sing and play?        90

‘I’ll put on my gown,’ said the new-come Bride,
  ‘And my shoes upon my feet;
I will see wha doth sae sadly sing,
  And what is it gars her greet.

‘What ails you, what ails you, my housekeeper,
  That ye mak sic a mane?
Has ony wine-barrel cast its girds,
  Or is a’ your white bread gane?’—

‘It isna because my wine is spilt,
  Or that my white bread’s gane;        100
But because I’ve lost my love’s love,
  And he’s wed to anither ane.’—

‘Noo tell me wha was your father?’ she says,
  ‘Noo tell me wha was your mither?
And had ye ony sister?’ she says,        105
  ‘And had ye ever a brither?’—

‘The Earl of Wemyss was my father,
  The countess of Wemyss my mither,
Young Elinor she was my sister dear,
  And Lord John he was my brither.’—        110

‘If the Earl of Wemyss was your father,
  I wot sae was he mine;
And it’s O my sister Annie!
  Your love ye sallna tyne.

‘Tak your husband, my sister dear;
  You ne’er were wrang’d for me,
Beyond a kiss o’ his merry mouth
  As we cam owre the sea.

‘Seven ships, loaded weel,
  Cam owre the sea wi’ me;        120
Ane o’ them will tak me hame,
  And six I’ll gie to thee.’
GLOSS:  jimp] slender, trim.  yett] gate.  tyne] lose.


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