Page images

“Ohon! alas, for I was youngest,
And aye my weird it was the strongest !
The kevil it on me did fa',
Whilk was the cause of a' my woe.

[ocr errors]

“For to the green-wood I maun gae,
To pu' the red rose and the slae;
To pu' the red rose and the thyme,
To deck my mother's bour and mine.

“I hadna pu'd a flower but ane,
When by there came a gallant hinde,
Wi' high colled hose and laigh colled shoon,
And he seemed to be some king's son.

“ And be I maid, or be I nae,
He kept me there till the close o' day;
And be I maid, or be I nane,
He kept me there till the day was done.

“He gae me a lock o' his yellow hair,
And bade me keep it ever mair;
He gae me a carknet * o’ bonny beads,
And bade me keep it against my needs.

“He gae to me a gay gold ring,
And bade me keep it abune a' thing."
“What did ye wi' the tokens rare,
That ye gat frae that gallant there?”


“ Carknet :” a necklace. Thus

“She threw away her rings and carknet cleen." -Harrison's translation of “Orlando Furioso," Notes on book 37th.

“O bring that coffer unto me,
And a' the tokens ye sall see.
“Now stay, daughter, your bour within,
While I gae parley wi' my son.'

O she has ta'en her thro' the ha',
And on her son began to ca':
“What did ye wi' the bonny beads,
I bade ye keep against your needs ?

"What did you wi' the gay gold ring,
I bade you keep abune a' thing ?”
“I gae them to a ladye gay,
I met in green-wood on a day.

“But I wad gie a' my halls and tours,
I had that ladye within my bours;
But I wad gie my very life,
I had that ladye to my wife.”

“Now keep, my son, your ha's and tours ;
Ye have that bright burd in your bours;
And keep, my son, your very life;
Ye have that ladye to your wife.”

Now, or a month was come and gane,
The ladye bore a bonny son;
And 'twas weel written on his breast-bane,
Cospatrick is my father's name.”


True Thomas, Thomas the Rhymer, or Thomas of Ercildoune, in the Eildon Hills, is a personage almost as mythological as Merlin or King Arthur. He is supposed if he ever existed at all, which is doubtful-to have flourished early in the thirteenth century, and to have been the author of “The Romance of Sir Tristrem." Sir Walter Scott was at some pains to collect particulars about him, and has gathered into a focus all the facts and suppositions on which he could lay hands. True Thomas is believed in popular superstition to have come back at the end of seven years, delivered his prophecies, and then returned to his captivity among the fairies.-C. M.

TRUE Thomas lay on Huntly bank,

A ferlie* he spied wi' his ee, And there he saw a lady bright

Come riding down by the Eildon tree. Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,

Her mantle o' the velvet fine; At ilka tettt of her horse's mane

Hung fifty siller bells and nine. True Thomas he pulled off his cap,

And louted low down to his knee: "All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven,

For thy peer on earth I never did see!”

“O no, O no, Thomas," she said,

“That name does not belong to me; I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,

That am hither come to visit thee. “Ferlie :” something wonderful, or marvellous. + " Tett:" lock.

[ocr errors]

“Harp and carp, True Thomas," she said,

“Harp and carp along wi' me; And if ye dare to kiss my lips,

Sure of your body I will be.”

“Betide me weal, betide me woe,

That weird shall never daunton me !" Since he has kissed her rosy lips,

All underneath the Eildon tree.

“Now ye maun go wi' me,” she said,

“True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me; And ye maun serve me seven years,

Through weal or woe, as chance may be.”

She mounted on her milk-white steed,

She's ta'en true Thomas up behind ; And aye,

whene'er her bridle rung, The steed flew swifter than the wind.

O they rode on, and farther on,

The steed gaed swifter than the wind, Until they reached a desert wide,

And living land was left behind.

"Light down, light down, now, true Thomàs,

And lean your head upon my knee; A bide and rest a little space,

And I will show you ferlies three.

“O see ye not yon narrow road,

So thick beset with thorns and briers ? That is the path of righteousness,

Though after it but few enquires.

“And see ye not that braid, braid road,

That lies across that lily leven? That is the path of wickedness,

Though some call it the road to heaven.

“And see ye not that bonny road,

That wins about the fernie brae? That is the road to fair Elfland,

Where thou and I this night maun gae.

“But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,

Whatever ye may hear or see; For if ye speak word in Elflyn land,

Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie.”

O they rode on and further on,

And they waded through rivers aboon the knee, And they saw neither sun nor moon,

But they heard the roaring of the sea.

[ocr errors]

It was mirk, mirk night, and there was nae stern

light, And they waded through red blude to the knee; For a' the blude that's shed on earth

Rins through the springs o' that countrie.

Sine they came on to a garden green,

And she pu'd an apple frae a tree: “Take this for thy wages, true Thomàs,

It will give thee the tongue that can never lie.” “My tongue is mine ain,” true Thomas said,

“A gudely gift ye wast gie to me; I neither dought to buy nor sell,

At fair or tryst where I may be.

« PreviousContinue »