Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Battle of Otterbourne
Anonymous
 
IT 1 fell about the Lammas 2 tide,
  When the muir-men win their hay,
The doughty Douglas bound him to ride
  Into England, to drive a prey.
 
He chose the Gordons and the Graemes,        5
  With them the Lindsays, light and gay;
But the Jardines wad not with him ride,
  And they rue it to this day.
 
And he has burn’d the dales of Tyne,
  And part of Bambroughshire:        10
And three good towers on Reidswire fells,
  He left them all on fire.
 
And he march’d up to Nèwcastle,
  And rode it round about:
‘O wha’s the lord of this castle?        15
  Or wha’s the lady o’t?’
 
But up spake proud Lord Percy then,
  And O but he spake hie!
‘I am the lord of this castle,
  My wife’s the lady gaye.’        20
 
‘If thou’rt the lord of this castle,
  Sae weel it pleases me!
For, ere I cross the Border fells,
  The tane of us sall die.’
 
He took a lang spear in his hand,        25
  Shod with the metal free,
And for to meet the Douglas there,
  He rode right furiouslie.
 
But O how pale his lady look’d,
  Frae aff the castle wa’,        30
When down, before the Scottish spear,
  She saw proud Percy fa’.
 
‘Had we twa been upon the green,
  And never an eye to see,
I wad hae had you, flesh and fell;        35
  But your sword sall gae wi’ mee.’
 
‘But gae ye up to Otterbourne,
  And wait there dayis three;
And, if I come not ere three dayis end,
  A fause knight ca’ ye me.’        40
 
‘The Otterbourne’s a bonnie burn;
  ’Tis pleasant there to be;
But there is nought at Otterbourne,
  To feed my men and me.
 
‘The deer rins wild on hill and dale,        45
  The birds fly wild from tree to tree;
But there is neither bread nor kale,
  To fend my men and me.
 
‘Yet I will stay at Otterbourne,
  Where you shall welcome be;        50
And, if ye come not at three dayis end,
  A fause lord I’ll ca’ thee.’
 
‘Thither will I come,’ proud Percy said,
  ‘By the might of Our Ladye!’
‘There will I bide thee,’ said the Douglas,        55
  ‘My troth I plight to thee.’
 
They lighted high on Otterbourne,
  Upon the bent sae brown;
They lighted high on Otterbourne,
  And threw their pallions down.        60
 
And he that had a bonnie boy,
  Sent out his horse to grass,
And he that had not a bonnie boy,
  His ain servant he was.
 
But up then spake a little page,        65
  Before the peep of dawn:
‘O waken ye, waken ye, my good lord,
  For Percy’s hard at hand.’
 
‘Ye lie, ye lie, ye liar loud!
  Sae loud I hear ye lie;        70
For Percy had not men yestreen,
  To dight my men and me.
 
‘But I have dream’d a dreary dream,
  Beyond the Isle of Sky;
I saw a dead man win a fight,        75
  And I think that man was I.’
 
He belted on his guid braid sword,
  And to the field he ran;
But he forgot the helmet good,
  That should have kept his brain.        80
 
When Percy wi’ the Douglas met,
  I wat he was fu’ fain!
They swakked their swords, till sair they swat,
  And the blood ran down like rain.
 
But Percy with his good broad sword,        85
  That could so sharply wound,
Has wounded Douglas on the brow,
  Till he fell to the ground.
 
Then he call’d on his little foot-page,
  And said—‘Run speedilie,        90
And fetch my ain dear sister’s son,
  Sir Hugh Montgomery.
 
‘My nephew good,’ the Douglas said,
  ‘What recks the death of ane!
Last night I dream’d a dreary dream,        95
  And I ken the day’s thy ain.
 
‘My wound is deep; I fain would sleep;
  Take thou the vanguard of the three,
And hide me by the braken bush,
  That grows on yonder lilye lee.        100
 
‘O bury me by the braken-bush,
  Beneath the blooming brier;
Let never living mortal ken
  That ere a kindly Scot lies here.’
 
He lifted up that noble lord,        105
  Wi’ the saut tear in his e’e;
He hid him in the braken bush,
  That his merry men might not see.
 
The moon was clear, the day drew near,
  The spears in flinders flew,        110
But mony a gallant Englishman
  Ere day the Scotsmen slew.
 
The Gordons good, in English blood,
  They steep’d their hose and shoon;
The Lindsays flew like fire about,        115
  Till all the fray was done.
 
The Percy and Montgomery met,
  That either of other were fain;
They swapped swords, and they twa swat,
  And aye the blood ran down between.        120
 
‘Now yield thee, yield thee, Percy,’ he said,
  ‘Or else I vow I’ll lay thee low!’
‘To whom must I yield,’ quoth Earl Percy,
  ‘Now that I see it must be so?’
 
‘Thou shalt not yield to lord nor loun,        125
  Nor yet shalt thou yield to me;
But yield thee to the braken-bush,
  That grows upon yon lilye lee!’
 
‘I will not yield to a braken-bush,
  Nor yet will I yield to a brier;        130
But I would yield to Earl Douglas,
  Or Sir Hugh the Montgomery, if he were here.’
 
As soon as he knew it was Montgomery,
  He struck his sword’s point in the gronde;
The Montgomery was a courteous knight,        135
  And quickly took him by the honde.
 
This deed was done at Otterburne,
  About the breaking of the day;
Earl Douglas was buried at the braken bush,
  And the Percy led captive away.        140
 
Note 1. This ballad is from a MS. in the British Museum of the sixteenth century; and the version in Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1833. An account of the battle is given in Froissart’s Chronicles. The incident is a raid into English territory, in August, 1388, to revenge the invasion of Richard II into Scotland the year before. A division under Douglas marched over the Cheviots, pillaged Durham, and recrossing the Tyne halted before Newcastle. Douglas then made a challenge to meet Percy at Otterbourne which is about thirty miles northwest of Newcastle, where the combat of the ballad took place. [back]
Note 2. Lammas: loaf-mass, the first of August. [back]
 
 
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