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.
 
Burd Helen
Anonymous
 
I WISH 1 I were where Helen lies,
Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies,
  On fair Kirconnell lea!
 
Curst be the heart that thought the thought,        5
And curst the hand that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
  And died to succour me!
 
O think na ye my heart was sair,
When my Love dropt and spak nae mair!        10
There did she swoon wi’ meikle care,
  On fair Kirconnell lea.
 
As I went down the water side,
None but my foe to be my guide,
None but my foe to be my guide,        15
  On fair Kirconnell lea;
 
I lighted down my sword to draw,
I hackèd him in pieces sma’,
I hackèd him in pieces sma’,
  For her sake that died for me.        20
 
O Helen fair, beyond compare!
I’ll make a garland of thy hair,
Shall bind my heart for evermair,
  Until the day I die.
 
O that I were where Helen lies!        25
Night and day on me she cries;
Out of my bed she bids me rise,
  Says, ‘Haste, and come to me!’
 
O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
If I were with thee, I were blest,        30
Where thou lies low and takes thy rest,
  On fair Kirconnell lea.
 
I wish my grave were growing green,
A winding-sheet drawn ower my een,
And I in Helen’s arms lying,        35
  On fair Kirconnell lea.
 
I wish I were where Helen lies;
Night and day on me she cries;
And I am weary of the skies,
  For her sake that died for me.        40
 
Note 1. The second part from Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This ballad is founded on an actual fact related by Scott. Helen Irving, or Bell, daughter of the Laird of Kirkconnell “was beloved by two suitors. Helen loved the one who was not her family’s choice, and used to meet him in the church-yard of Kirkconnell, ‘a romantic spot, almost surrounded by the river Kirtle.’ One evening the rejected suitor appeared suddenly on the opposite bank, and levelled his carbine at the breast of his rival. Helen threw herself before her lover, received in her bosom the bullet, and died in his arms.” Wordsworth’s Ellen Irwin was inspired by the same subject. [back]
 
 
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