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.
 
Clerk Colvill
Anonymous
 
CLERK COLVILL 1 and his lusty dame
  Were walking in the garden green;
The belt around her stately waist
  Cost Clerk Colvill of pounds fifteen.
 
‘O promise me now, Clerk Colvill,        5
  Or it will cost ye muckle strife,
Ride never by the wells of Slane,
  If ye wad live and brook your life.
 
‘Now speak nae mair, my lusty dame,
  Now speak nae mair of that to me;        10
Did I ne’er see a fair woman,
  But I wad sin with her body?’
 
He’s ta’en leave o’ his lady gay,
  Nought minding what his lady said,
And he’s rode by the wells of Slane,        15
  Where washing was a bonny maid.
 
‘Wash on, wash on, my bonny maid,
  That wash sae clean your sark of silk;’
‘And weel fa’ you, fair gentleman,
  Your body whiter than the milk.’        20
 
Then loud, loud cry’d the Clerk Colvill,
  ‘O my head it pains me sair;’
‘Then take, then take,’ the maiden said,
  ‘And frae my sark you’ll cut a gare.’
 
Then she’s gied him a little bane-knife,        25
  And frae her sark he cut a share;
She’s ty’d it round his whey-white face,
  But ay his head it aked mair.
 
Then louder cry’d the Clerk Colvill,
  ‘O sairer, sairer akes my head;’        30
‘And sairer, sairer ever will,’
  The maiden crys, ‘Till you be dead.’
 
Out then he drew his shining blade,
  Thinking to stick her where she stood,
But she was vanished to a fish,        35
  And swam far off, a fair mermaid.
 
‘O mother, mother, braid my hair;
  My lusty lady, make my bed;
O brother, take my sword and spear,
  For I have seen the false mermaid.’        40
 
Note 1. From Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scots Song, 1769. [back]
 
 
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