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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
31. Bewick and Grahame
 
Traditional Ballads
 
 
OLD GRAHAME he is to Carlisle gone,
  Where Sir Robert Bewick there met he;
In arms to the wine they are gone,
  And drank till they were both merry.
 
Old Grahame he took up the cup,        5
  And said, ‘Brother Bewick, here’s to thee,
And here’s to our two sons at home,
  For they live best in our country.’
 
‘Nay, were thy son as good as mine,
  And of some books he could but read,        10
With sword and buckler by his side,
  To see how he could save his head,
 
‘They might have been calld two bold brethren
  Where ever they did go or ride;
They might have been calld two bold brethren,        15
  They might have crackd 1 the Border-side.
 
‘Thy son is bad, and is but a lad,
  And bully 2 to my son cannot be;
For my son Bewick can both write and read,
  And sure I am that cannot he.’        20
 
‘I put him to school, but he would not learn,
  I bought him books, but he would not read;
But my blessing he’s never have
  Till I see how his hand can save his head.’
 
Old Grahame called for an account,        25
  And he askd what was for to pay;
There he paid a crown, so it went round,
  Which was all for good wine and hay.
 
Old Grahame is into the stable gone,
  Where stood thirty good steeds and three;        30
He’s taken his own steed by the head,
  And home rode he right wantonly.
 
When he came home, there did he espy
  A loving sight to spy or see,
There did he espy his own three sons,        35
  Young Christy Grahame, the foremost was he.
 
There did he espy his own three sons,
  Young Christy Grahame, the foremost was he:
‘Where have you been all day, father,
  That no counsel you would take by me?’        40
 
‘Nay, I have been in Carlisle town,
  Where Sir Robert Bewick there met me;
He said thou was bad, and calld thee a lad,
  And a baffled man by thou I be.
 
‘He said thou was bad, and calld thee a lad,        45
  And bully to his son cannot be;
For his son Bewick can both write and read,
  And sure I am that cannot thee.
 
‘I put thee to school, but thou would not learn,
  I bought thee books, but thou would not read;        50
But my blessing thou’s never have
  Till I see with Bewick thou can save thy head.’
 
‘O, pray forbear, my father dear;
  That ever such a thing should be!
Shall I venture my body in field to fight        55
  With a man that’s faith and troth to me?’
 
‘What’s that thou sayst, thou limmer loon? 3
  Or how dare thou stand to speak to me?
If thou do not end this quarrel soon,
  Here is my glove thou shalt fight me.’        60
 
Christy stoopd low unto the ground,
  Unto the ground, as you’ll understand:
‘O father, put on your glove again,
  The wind hath blown it from your hand.’
 
‘What’s that thou sayst, thou limmer loon?        65
  Or how dare thou stand to speak to me?
If thou do not end this quarrel soon,
  Here is my hand thou shalt fight me.’
 
Christy Grahame is to his chamber gone,
  And for to study, as well might be,        70
Whether to fight with his father dear,
  Or with his bully Bewick he.
 
‘If it be my fortune my bully to kill,
  As you shall boldly understand,
In every town that I ride through,        75
  They’ll say, There rides a brotherless man!
 
‘Nay, for to kill my bully dear,
  I think it will be a deadly sin;
And for to kill my father dear,
  The blessing of heaven I ne’er shall win.        80
 
‘O give me my blessing, father,’ he said,
  ‘And pray well for me for to thrive;
If it be my fortune my bully to kill,
  I swear I’ll neer come home alive.’
 
He put on his back a good plate-jack,        85
  And on his head a cap of steel,
With sword and buckler by his side;
  O gin 4 he did not become them weel!
 
‘O fare thee well, my father dear!
  And fare thee well, thou Carlisle town!        90
If it be my fortune my bully to kill,
  I swear I’ll neer eat bread again.’
 
Now we’ll leave talking of Christy Grahame,
  And talk of him again belive; 5
But we will talk of bonny Bewick,        95
  Where he was teaching his scholars five.
 
Now when he had learnd them well to fence,
  To handle their swords without any doubt,
He’s taken his own sword under his arm,
  And walkd his father’s close about.        100
 
He lookd between him and the sun,
  To see what farleys 6 he could see;
There he spy’d a man with armour on,
  As he came riding over the lee.
 
‘I wonder much what man yon be        105
  That so boldly this way does come;
I think it is my nighest friend,
  I think it is my bully Grahame.
 
‘O welcome, O welcome, bully Grahame!
  O man, thou art my dear, welcome!        110
O man, thou art my dear, welcome!
  For I love thee best in Christendom.’
 
‘Away, away, O bully Bewick,
  And of thy bullyship let me be!
The day is come I never thought on;        115
  Bully, I’m come here to fight with thee.’
 
‘O no! not so, O bully Grahame!
  That eer such a word should spoken be!
I was thy master, thou was my scholar:
  So well as I have learned thee.’        120
 
‘My father he was in Carlisle town,
  Where thy father Bewick there met he;
He said I was bad, and he called me a lad,
  And a baffled man by thou I be.’
 
‘Away, away, O bully Grahame,        125
  And of all that talk, man, let us be!
We’ll take three men of either side
  To see if we can our fathers agree.’
 
‘Away, away, O bully Bewick,
  And of thy bullyship let me be!        130
But if thou be a man, as I trow thou art,
  Come over this ditch and fight with me.’
 
‘O no, not so, my bully Grahame!
  That eer such a word should spoken be!
Shall I venture my body in field to fight        135
  With a man that’s faith and troth to me?’
 
‘Away, away, O bully Bewick,
  And of all that care, man, let us be!
If thou be a man, as I trow thou art,
  Come over this ditch and fight with me.’        140
 
‘Now, if it be my fortune thee, Grahame, to kill,
  As God’s will, man, it all must be;
But if it be my fortune thee, Grahame, to kill,
  ‘Tis home again I’ll never gae.’
 
‘Thou art of my mind, then, bully Bewick,        145
  And sworn-brethren will we be:
If thou be a man, as I trow thou art,
  Come over this ditch and fight with me.’
 
He flang his cloak from off his shoulders,
  His psalm-book out of his hand flung he,        150
He clapd his hand upon the hedge,
  And oer lap 7 he right wantonly.
 
When Grahame did see his bully come,
  The salt tear stood long in his eye:
‘Now needs must I say that thou art a man,        155
  That dare venture thy body to fight with me.
 
‘Now I have a harness on my back;
  I know that thou hath none on thine;
But as little as thou hath on thy back,
  Sure as little shall there be on mine.’        160
 
He flang his jack from off his back,
  His steel cap from his head flang he;
He’s taken his sword into his hand,
  He’s tyed his horse unto a tree.
 
Now they fell to it with two broad swords,        165
  For two long hours fought Bewick and he;
Much sweat was to be seen on them both,
  But never a drop of blood to see.
 
Now Grahame gave Bewick an ackward stroke,
  An ackward stroke surely struck he;        170
He struck him now under the left breast,
  Then down to the ground as dead fell he.
 
‘Arise, arise, O bully Bewick,
  Arise, and speak three words to me!
Whether this be thy deadly wound,        175
  Or God and good surgeons will mend thee.’
 
‘O horse, O horse, O bully Grahame,
  And pray do get thee far from me!
Thy sword is sharp, it hath wounded my heart,
  And so no further can I gae.        180
 
‘O horse, O horse, O bully Grahame,
  And get thee far from me with speed!
And get thee out of this country quite!
  That none may know who’s done the deed.’
 
‘O if this be true, my bully dear,        185
  The words that thou dost tell to me,
The vow I made, and the vow I’ll keep,
  I swear I’ll be the first to die.’
 
Then he stuck his sword in a moudie-hill, 8
  Where he lap thirty good foot and three;        190
First he bequeathed his soul to God,
  And upon his own sword-point lap he.
 
Now Grahame he was the first that died,
  And then came Robin Bewick to see;
‘Arise, arise, O son,’ he said,        195
  ‘For I see thou’s won the victory.
 
‘Arise, arise, O son,’ he said,
  ‘For I see thou’s won the victory;’
‘Father, could ye not drunk your wine at home,
  And letten me and my brother be?        200
 
‘Nay, dig a grave both low and wide,
  And in it us two pray bury;
But bury my bully Grahame on the sun-side,
  For I’m sure he’s won the victory.’
 
Now we’ll leave talking of these two brethren,        205
  In Carlisle town where they lie slain,
And talk of these two good old men,
  Where they were making a pitiful moan.
 
With that bespoke now Robin Bewick:
  ‘O man was I not much to blame?        210
I have lost one of the liveliest lads
  That ever was bred unto my name.’
 
With that bespoke my good lord Grahame:
  ‘O man, I have lost the better block;
I have lost my comfort and my joy,        215
  I have lost my key, I have lost my lock.
 
‘Had I gone through all Ladderdale,
  And forty horse had set on me,
Had Christy Grahame been at my back,
  So well as he would guarded me.’        220
 
I have no more of my song to sing,
  But two or three words to you I’ll name;
But ’twill be talked in Carlisle town
  That these two old men were all the blame.
 
Note 1. Cattle. [back]
Note 2. Taken. [back]
Note 3. Cows. [back]
Note 4. Grief. [back]
Note 5. Defied. [back]
Note 6. Mate, chum, sworn brother. [back]
Note 7. Rascally fellow. [back]
Note 8. If. [back]
 

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