A Fragment of an old heroick ballad.
STately step he east the wa,
And stately stept he west,
Full seventy years he now had seen,
With scarce seven years of rest.
He liv’d when Britons breach of faith
Wrought Scotland meikle wae:
And ay his sword told to their cost,
He was their deadly fae.
Hie on a hill his castle stude,
With hills and tours a hight,
And guidly chambers fair to see,
Where he lodg’’d mony a knight.
His dame sae peirless anes and fair,
For chast and beauty deimt,
Nae marrow had in all the land,
Save Elenor the queen.
Full thirteen sons to him she bare,
All men of valour stout;
In bluidy fight, with sword in hand,
Nyne lost their lives bot doubt;
Four yet remain, lang may they live
To stand by liege and land:
Hie was their fame, hie was their might,
And hie was their command.
Great love they bare to Fairly fair,
Their sister saft and deir,
Her girdle shawd her middle jimp,
And gowden glist her hair.
What waefou wae her bewtie bred?
Waefou to young and auld.
Waefou I trow to kyth and kin,
As story ever tauld.
The king of Norse in summer tyde,
Puft up with power and might,
Landed in fair Scotland the isle,
With mony a hardy knight:
The tydings to our gude Scots King
Came, as he sat at dyne,
With noble chiefs in brave aray,
Drinking the blude-reid wyne.
“To horse, to horse, my royal liege,
“Your faes stand on the strand,
“Full twenty thousand glittering spears
“The king of Norse commands.
Bring me my steed, Madge, dapple gray,
Our gude king raise and cry’d;
A trustier beast in all the land,
A Scots King never seyd.
Go little page, tell Hardyknute,
That lives on bill so hie,
To draw his sword, the dreid of faes,
And haste and follow me.
The little page flew swift as dart
Flung by his master’s arm,
Come down, come down, lord Hardyknute,
And redd your king frae harm.
Then reid, reid grew his dark brown cheiks,
Sae did his dark-brown brow;
His looks grew keen as they were wont
In dangers great to do;
He has tane a horn as green as glass,
And gien five sounds sae shrill,
That trees in green wood shook thereat,
Sae loud rang ilka hill.
His sons in manly sport and glie,
Had past that summers morn,
When lo down in a grassy dale,
They heard their father’s horn.
That horn, quoth they, neer sounds in peace,
We have other sport to byde;
And soon they heyd them up the hill,
And soon were at his syde.
Late, late yestreen I weind in peace
To end my lengthned life,
My age might weil excuse my arm
Frae manly feats of strife;
But now that Norse does proudly boast
Fair Scotland to inthrall,
Its neir be said of Hardyknute,
He fear’d to fight or fall.
Robin of Rothsay, bend thy bow,
Thy arrow shoot sae leil,
Mony a comely countenance
They have turn’d to deidly pale:
Brade Thomas tak ye but your lance,
Ye neid nae weapons mair,
Gif ye fight weit as ye did anes
‘Gainst Westmoreland’s fierce heir.
Malcom, light of foot as stag
That runs in forest wyld,
Get me my thousands three of men
Well bred to sword and shield:
Bring me my horse and harnisine
My blade of mettal cleir.
If faes kend but the hand it bare,
They soon had fled for fear.
Farewell my dame, sae pierless good,
And took her by the hand,
Fairer to me in age you seem,
Than maids for bewty fam’d:
My youngest son sall here remain
To guard these stately towirs,
And shut the silver bolt that keips,
Sae fast your painted bowirs.
And first she wet her comely cheiks,
And then her boddice green,
Hir silken cords of twirtle twist,
Weil plett with silver sheen;
And apron set with mony a dice
Of needle-wark sae rare,
Wove by na hand, as ye may guess,
Save that of Fairly fair.
And he has ridden owre muir and moss,
Owre hills and mony a glen,
When he came to a wounded knight
Making a heavy mane;
Here maun I lie, here maun I dye,
By treacheries false Gyles;
Witless I was that eir gave faith
To wicked womans smyles.
Sir knight, gin ye were in my bowir,
To lean on silken seat,
My ladys kyndlie care you’d prove,
Wha neir kend deidly hate;
Hir self wald watch ye all the day,
Hir maids a deid of nicht;
And Fairly fair your heart wald cheir,
As she stands in your sight.
Arise young knight, and mount your steid,
Full lowns the shynand day,
Chuse frae my menzie whom ye please
To lead ye on the way.
With smyless look and visage wan,
The wounded knight reply’d,
Kynd chiftain, your intent pursue,
For heir I maun abyde.
To me nae after day nor night,
Can eir be sweit or fair,
But soon beneath some draping trie,
Cauld death sall end my care.
With him nae pleading might prevail,
Brave Hardyknute to gain,
With fairest words and reason strang,
Strave courteously in vain.
Syne he has gane far hynd attowre,
Lord Chattans land sae wyde,
That lord a worthy wight was ay,
When faes his courage seyd:
Of Pictish race by mothers syde,
When Picts ruld Caledon,
Lord Chattan claimd the princely maid,
When he sav’d Pictish crown.
Now with his fierce and stalwart train,
He reach’d a rysing height,
Whair braid encampit on the dale,
Norse army lay in sight;
Yonder my valiant sons and feirs,
Our raging revers wait
On the unconquer’d Scottish swaird,
To try with us thair fate.
Mak orisons to him that sav’d
Our sauls upon the rude,
Syne bravely shaw your veins are filld
With Caledonian blude.
Then furth he drew his trusty glaive,
While thousands all arround,
Drawn frae their sheaths glanst in the sun,
And loud the bougills sound.
To join his king adoun the hill
In hast his merch he made,
Whyle, play and pibrochs, minstralls meit
Afore him stately strade.
Thryse welcom valiant stoup of weir,
Thy nations sheild and pryde;
Thy king nae reason has to feir
When thou art by his syde.
When bows were bent and darts were thrawn,
For thrang scarce could they flie,
The darts clove arrows as they met,
The arrows dart the trie.
Lang did they rage and fight full fierce,
With little skaith to man,
But bludy, bludy was the field,
Or that lang day was done.
The king of Scots that sindle bruikd
The war that lookt like play,
Drew his braid sword, and brake his bow,
Sen bows seimt but delay:
Quoth noble Rothsay, myne l’ll keip,
I wate its bled a score.
Hast up my merry men, cryd the king,
As he rade on before.
The king of Norse he sought to find,
With him to mense the fight,
But on his forehead there did light
A sharp unsonsie shaft;
As he his hand put up to find
The wound, an arrow keen,
O waefou chance! there pinnd his hand
In midst between his een.
Revenge, revenge, cryd Rothsays heir,
Your mail-coat sall nocht byde
The strength and sharpness of my dart;
Then sent it through his syde:
Another arrow weil he markd
It pierc’d his neck in twa,
His hands then quat the silver reins,
He laigh as eard did fa.
Sair bleids my liege, sair, sair he bleids.
Again with might he drew
And gesture dreid his sturdy bow,
Fast the braid arrow flew:
Wae to the knight he ettled at,
Lament now quene Elgreid,
Hie dames too wail your darlings fall,
His youth and comely meid.
Take aff, take aff his costy jupe
(Of gold weil was it twynd,
Knit lyke the fowlers net through which
His steilly harness shynd)
Take, Norse, that gift frae me, and bid
Him venge the blude it beirs;
Say, if he face my bended bow,
He sure nae weapon fears.
Proud Norse with giant body tall,
Braid shoulders and arms strong,
Cryd, where is Hardyknute sae famd
And feird at Britains throne:
The Britons tremble at his name,
I soon sall make him wail,
That eir my sword was made sae sharp,
Sae saft his coat of mail.
That brag his stout heart coud na byde,
It lent him youthful might:
I’m Hardyknute this day, he cry’d,
To Scotlands king I height,
To lay thee law as horses hufe,
My word I mean to keip.
Syne with the first strake eir he strake,
He garrd his body bleid.
Norse ene lyke gray gosehawks staird wyld,
He fight with shame and spyte;
Disgracd is now my far famd arm
That left thee power to stryke:
Then gave his head a blaw sae fell,
It made him doun to stoup,
As law as he to ladies us’d
In courtly gyse to lout.
Full soon he rais’d his bent body,
His bow he marvelld fair,
Sen blaws till then on him but darrd
As touch of Fairly fair:
Norse ferliet too as fair as he
To see his stately look,
Sae soon as eir he strake a fae,
Sae soon his lyfe he took.
Whair lyke a fyre to hether set,
Bauld Thomas did advance,
A sturdy fae with look enragd
Up towards him did prance;
He spurd his steid throw thickest ranks
The hardy youth to quell,
Wha stood unmov’d at his approach
His furie to repell.
That short brown shaft sae meanly trimd,
Looks like poor Scotlands Geir,
But dreidfull seims the rusty poynt!
And loud he leugh in jeir.
Aft Britains blude has dimd its shyne
This point cut short their vaunt;
Syne piercd the boaster’s bairded cheik,
Nae time he took to taunt.
Short while he in his sadle swang,
His stirrip was nae stay,
Sae feible hang his unbent knee,
Sure taken he was fey:
Swith on the hardened clay he fell,
Right far was hard the thud,
But Thomas look’d not as he lay
All waltering in his blude.
With cairles gesture, mynd unmov’d,
On raid he north the plain,
His seim in thrang of fiercest stryfe,
When winner ay the same;
Nor yet his heart dames dimpelit cheik,
Coud meise saft love to bruik,
Till vengeful Ann returnd his scorn,
Then Ianguid grew his look.
In thrawis of death, with wailowit cheik,
All panting on the plain,
The fainting corps of warriours lay,
Neir to aryse again;
Neir to return to native land,
Nae mair with blythsom sounds,
To boast the glories of the day,
And shaw thair shyning wounds.
On Norways coast the widow’d dame,
May wash the rocks with teirs,
May lang look owre the shiples seis,
Before hir mate appeirs.
Ceise, Emma, ceise to hope in vain,
Thy lord lyis in the clay,
The valiant Scots nae revers thole
To carry lyfe away.
There on a lie whair stands a cross,
Set up for monument,
Thousands full fierce that summers day
Filld keen waris black intent,
Let Scots, while Scots, praise Hardyknute,
Let Norse the name ay dreid,
Ay how he faught, aft how he spaird,
Sal latest ages reid.
Loud and chill blew westlin wind,
Sair beat the heavy showir,
Mirk grew the night eir Hardyknute
Wan neir his stately tower,
His tower that usd with torches bleise,
To shyne sae far at night,
Seimd now as black as mourning weid,
Nae marvel fair he seight.
There’s nae light in my ladys bowir
There’s nae light in my hall;
Nae blink shynes round my Fairly fair,
Nor Ward stands on my wall.
What bodes it? Robert, Thomas say,
Nae answer fits their dreid.
Stand back, my sons, I’ll be your gyde,
But by they past with speid.
As fast I haif sped owre Scotlands faes,
There ceist his brag of weir,
Sair sham’d to mynd ought but his dame,
And maiden Fairly fair.
Black fear he felt, but what to fear
He wist not yet with dreid;
Sair shook his body, sair his limbs,
And all the warrior fled.