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Hardyknute, pp.231-242.

[Tea-Table Miscellany Contents]

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. 

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