Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Ballads: Romantic
The Douglas Tragedy
 
          [This ballad exists in Denmark, and in other European countries. The Scotch have localised it, and point out Blackhouse, on the wild Douglas Burn, a tributary of the Yarrow, as the scene of the tragedy.]

‘RISE up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas,’ she says,
  ‘And put on your armour so bright;
Let it never be said, that a daughter of thine
  Was married to a lord under night.
 
‘Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,        5
  And put on your armour so bright,
And take better care of your youngest sister,
  For your eldest’s awa the last night.’
 
He ’s mounted her on a milk-white steed,
  And himself on a dapple grey,        10
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
  And lightly they rode away.
 
Lord William lookit o’er his left shoulder,
  To see what he could see,
And there he spy’d her seven brethren bold,        15
  Come riding over the lea.
 
‘Light down, light down, Lady Marg’ret,’ he said,
  And hold my steed in your hand,
Until that against your seven brothers bold,
  And your father, I mak a stand.’        20
 
She held his steed in her milk-white hand,
  And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa’,
  And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.
 
‘O hold your hand, Lord William!’ she said,        25
  ‘For your strokes they are wond’rous sair;
True lovers I can get many a ane,
  But a father I can never get mair.’
 
O she ’s ta’en out her handkerchief,
  It was o’ the holland sae fine,        30
And aye she dighted her father’s bloody wounds,
  That were redder than the wine.
 
‘O chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg’ret,’ he said,
  ‘O whether will ye gang or bide?’
‘I’ll gang, I’ll gang, Lord William,’ she said,        35
  ‘For ye have left me no other guide.’
 
He ’s lifted her on a milk-white steed,
  And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
  And slowly they baith rade away.        40
 
O they rade on, and on they rade,
  And a’ by the light of the moon,
Until they came to yon wan water,
  And there they lighted down.
 
They lighted down to tak a drink        45
  Of the spring that ran sae clear;
And down the stream ran his gude heart’s blood,
  And sair she gan to fear.
 
‘Hold up, hold up, Lord William,’ she says,
  ‘For I fear that you are slain!’        50
‘’Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak,
  That shines in the water sae plain.’
 
O they rade on, and on they rade,
  And a’ by the light of the moon,
Until they cam’ to his mother’s ha’ door,        55
  And there they lighted down.
 
‘Get up, get up, lady mother,’ he says,
  ‘Get up, and let me in!—
Get up, get up, lady mother,’ he says,
  ‘For this night my fair ladye I’ve win.        60
 
‘O mak my bed, lady mother,’ he says,
  ‘O mak it braid and deep!
And lay Lady Marg’ret close at my back,
  And the sounder I will sleep.’
 
Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,        65
  Lady Marg’ret lang ere day—
And all true lovers that go thegither,
  May they have mair luck than they!
 
Lord William was buried in St. Mary’s kirk,
  Lady Margaret in Mary’s quire;        70
Out o’ the lady’s grave grew a bonny red rose,
  And out o’ the knight’s a brier.
 
And they twa met, and they twa plat, 1
  And fain they wad be near;
And a’ the warld might ken right weel,        75
  They were twa lovers dear.
 
But bye and rade the Black Douglas,
  And wow but he was rough!
For he pull’d up the bonny brier,
  And flang’d in St. Mary’s loch.        80
 
Note 1. plighted troth. [back]
 
 
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