Poems » amy levy » the braes of yarrow


Late at e'en, drinking the wine,
    And ere they paid the lawing,
They set a combat them between,
    To fight it in the dawing.

'What though ye be my sister's lord
    We'll cross our swords to-morrow.'
'What though my wife your sister be,
    I'll meet ye then on Yarrow.'

'O stay at hame, my ain gude lord!
    O stay, my ain dear marrow!
My cruel brither will you betray
    On the dowie banks of Yarrow.'

'O fare ye weel, my lady dear!
    And put aside your sorrow;
For if I gae, I'll sune return
    Frae the bonny banks o' Yarrow.'

She kiss'd his cheek, she kaimed his hair,
    As oft she'd done before, O;
She belted him with his gude brand,
    And he's awa' to Yarrow.

When he gaed up the Tennies bank,
    As he gaed mony a morrow,
Nine armed men lay in a den
    On the dowie braes o' Yarrow.

'O come ye here to hunt or hawk
    The bonny Forest thorough?
Or come ye here to wield your brand
    Upon the banks o' Yarrow?'

'I come not here to hunt or hawk
    As oft I've dune before, O,
But I come here to wield my brand
    Upon the banks o' Yarrow.

'If ye attack me nine to ane,
    That God may send ye sorrow!--
Yet will I fight while stand I may,
    On the bonny banks o' Yarrow.'

Two has he hurt, and three has slain,
    On the bloody braes o' Yarrow;
But the stubborn knight crept in behind,
    And pierced his body thorough.

'Gae hame, gae hame, you brither John,
    And tell your sister sorrow,--
To come and lift her leafu' lord
    On the dowie banks o' Yarrow.'

Her brither John gaed ower the hill,
    As oft he'd dune before, O;
There he met his sister dear,
    Cam' rinnin' fast to Yarrow.

'I dreamt a dream last night,' she says,
    'I wish it binna sorrow;
I dreamt I pu'd the heather green
    Wi' my true love on Yarrow.'

'I'll read your dream, sister,' he says,
    'I'll read it into sorrow;
Ye're bidden go take up your love,
    He's sleeping sound on Yarrow.'

She's torn the ribbons frae her head
    That were baith braid and narrow;
She's kilted up her lang claithing,
    And she's awa' to Yarrow.

She's ta'en him in her arms twa,
    And gi'en him kisses thorough;
She sought to bind his many wounds,
    But he lay dead on Yarrow.

'O haud your tongue,' her father says,
    'And let be a' your sorrow;
I'll wed you to a better lord
    Than him you lost on Yarrow.'

'O haud your tongue, father,' she says,
    'Far warse ye make my sorrow;
A better lord could never be
    Than him that lies on Yarrow.'

She kiss'd his lips, she kaimed his hair,
    As aft she'd dune before, O;
And there with grief her heart did break
    Upon the banks o' Yarrow.