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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
17. The Wife of Usher’s Well
 
Traditional Ballads
 
 
THERE lived a wife at Usher’s Well,
  And a wealthy wife was she;
She had three stout and stalwart sons,
  And sent them oer the sea.
 
They hadna been a week from her,        5
  A week but barely ane,
Whan word came to the carline 1 wife
  That her three sons were gane.
 
They hadna been a week from her,
  A week but barely three,        10
Whan word came to the carlin wife
  That her sons she’d never see.
 
“I wish the wind may never cease,
  Nor fashes 2 in the flood,
Till my three sons come hame to me,        15
  In earthly flesh and blood.”
 
It fell about the Martinmass,
  When nights are lang and mirk. 3
The carlin wife’s three sons came hame,
  And their hats were o the birk. 4        20
 
It neither grew in syke 5 nor ditch,
  Nor yet in ony sheugh; 6
But at the gates o Paradise,
  That birk grew fair eneugh.
 
“Blow up the fire, my maidens,        25
  Bring water from the well;
For a’ my house shall feast this night,
  Since my three sons are well.”
 
And she has made to them a bed,
  She’s made it large and wide,        30
And she’s taen her mantle her about,
  Sat down at the bed-side.
 
Up then crew the red, red cock,
  And up and crew the gray;
The eldest to the youngest said,        35
  “’Tis time we were away.”
 
The cock he hadna crawd but once,
  And clappd his wings at a’,
When the youngest to the eldest said,
  “Brother, we must awa.”        40
 
“The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
  The channerin 7 worm doth chide;
Gin we be mist out o our place,
  A sair pain we maun bide.
 
“Lie still, lie still but a little wee while,        45
  Lie still but if we may;
Gin my mother should miss us when she wakes,
  She’ll go mad ere it be day.”
 
“Faer ye weel, my mother dear!
  Fareweel to barn and byre!        50
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass
  That kindles my mother’s fire!”
 
Note 1. Storms(?). [back]
Note 2. Dark. [back]
Note 3. Birch. [back]
Note 4. Trench. [back]
Note 5. Furrow. [back]
Note 6. Fretting. [back]
Note 7. Ball. [back]
 

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