In Scotland I was born and bred,
In Scotland is my dwelling; A young man on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barb'ra Ellen. She went to his bedside, and said:
" I think you're dying surely." " A dying man, pray don't say so,
One kiss of yours will cure me. " Oh, cross, my love, to the window light,
And see the tears come wellin', The tears I cannot choose but shed,
For love of Barb'ra Ellen." As I was going across the fields,
I heard some bells a-tellin', And as they rung I seem they said,
Hard-hearted Barb'ra Ellen.
Hard-hearted girl I mutt have been,
To the lad that loves me nearly; I wish I had my time again,
I'd love that young man dearly. As I was going through the street,
I saw some corpse a-coming; Yon corpse of clay, lay down, I pray,
That I may gaze all on thee. The more she looked, the more she laughed,
Until she burst out laughing; Till all her friends cried out: " For shame,
Hard-hearted Barb'ra Ellen! " So she went home: " Dear mother," she says,
"Oh, make my bed, dear mother, My young man died on one good day,
And I shall die on another. " You make my bed, dear mother," she said,
You make it long and narrow, My young man died of love," she cried,
" And I shall die of sorrow."
They both were buried in one churchyard,
They both lay in one squiar, And out of her sprung a red rosebud,
Till they could grow no higher, And back they returned in a true-love's knot,
Red roses and sweet-briar.
Oh, waly, waly up the bank,
Where I and my love wont to gae! I leant my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree. But first it bowed and syne it brak,
Sae my true love did lichtly me. Oh, waly, waly, but love is bonny,
A little time while it is new; But when 'tis auld, it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like morning dew. Oh, wherefore should I busk my head?
Or wherefore should I kaim my hair? For my true love has me forsook,
And says he'll never see me mair. Now, Arthur's Seat sall be my bed:
The sheets shall ne'er be pressed by me, Saint Anton's Well sall be my drink,
Since my true love has forsaken me. Marti'mas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaves off the tree?
Tis not the frost that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snow's inclemencie, Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my love's heart grown cauld to me. When we came in by Glasgow town
And I mysel' in cramasie. But had I wist, before I kist,
That love had been sae ill to win.
And, oh! if my young babe were born,
And set upon the nurse's knee, And I mysel' were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!
But these songs do not all strike a sad note. There are some which have the delight and freshness of early morning when the lambs shake the dew off their fleeces! Here, again, the Somersetshire songs show a lightness and gaiety which rejoice the heart.
They are but another expression of the same spirit which produced the country dances and charming garments in which, before it grew stupid, ugly, and intelligent, the world delighted. But here, even more than with the tragic songs, it is useless to quote the words without their accompanying melody. One may end, however, with a delicious specimen, also anonymous, written about 1600. It is perhaps more a love poem than a song, but demands to be quoted on account of its irresponsible gaiety and fragrance as of some woodland flower.