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David1236

Scottish ballads

Some of the anonymous Scottish ballads are very powerful - particularly one called simply 'Edward' - whether it has its origin in an actual family tragedy, who knows - here it is:-
(a dialogue between mother and son.)

'Why dois your sword sae drap wi' bluid, Edward, Edward,
why dois your sword sae drap wi' bluid, and why sae sad gang ye O?'
O, I hae killed y hawk sae guid, Mither, mither,
O I hae killed my hawk sae guid, and I had nae mair bot he O.'

'You hawk's bluid was never sae reid, Edward, Edward,
Your hawk's bluid was never sae reid, My dear son, I tell thee, O.'
"O I hae killed my reid-roan steed, Mither, mither,
O I hae killed my reid-roan steed, that erst was fair and free O.'

'Your steed was auld, and ye hae gat mair, Edward, Edward,
Your steed was auld and ye hae gat mair, some other dule ye dree O (pain you bear).
O I hae killed my fadder dear, Mither, mither,
O I hae killed my fadder dear, Alas and wae is me O!'

'And whatten penance will ye dree for that, Edward, Edward,
and whatten penance will ye dree for that, My dear son, now tell me O.
'I'll set my feet on yonder boat, Mither, mither,
I'll set my feet on yonder boat and I'll fare over the sea O.'

'And what will ye do wi' your towers and ha', Edward, Edward,
and what will ye do wi' your towers and ha', that were sae fair to see O?
'I'll let them stand till they down fa, Mither, mither,
I'll let them stand till they down fa, for here never mair maun I be O.'

'And what will ye leave to your bairns and your wife, Edward, Edward,
and what will ye leave to your bairns and wife, when ye gang over the sea O?
'The warld is wide, let them beg thro' life, Mither, mither,
the warld is wide, let them beg thro' life, for hame never mair will I see O.'

'And what will ye leave to your ain mither dear, Edward, Edward,
and what will ye leave to your ain mither dear, my dear son, now tell me O.'
'The curse of hell frae me sall ye bear, Mither, mither,
the curse of hell frae me sall ye bear, sic counsels gave ye to me O.'

The anguish and despair in the second half of the ballad is overwhelming - in fact, reading it aloud to an audience, if you let yourself become emotionally involved with it, is is impossible to finish it.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> All things poetic
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