NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This legendary Tale is given chiefly from Mrs. BROWN'S MS.
Accordingly, many of the rhymes arise from the Northern mode of
pronunciation; as dee for do, and the like.—Perhaps the Ballad may
have originally related to the history of the celebrated ROBIN HOOD;
as mention is made of Barnisdale, his favourite abode.
O Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Their mother deir was dead:
And their father has married an ill woman,
Wished them twa little guid.
But she had twa as gallant sons
As ever brake man's bread;
And the tane o' them lo'ed her, White Lilly,
And the tother Rose the Red.
O bigged hae they a bigly bour,
Fast by the roaring strand;
And there was mair mirth in the ladyes' bour,
Nor in a' their father's land.
But out and spake their step-mother,
As she stood a little forebye—
"I hope to live and play the prank,
"Sall gar your loud sang lie."
She's call'd upon her eldest son;
"Cum here, my son, to me:
"It fears me sair, my bauld Arthur,
"That ye maun sail the sea."
"Gin sae it maun be, my deir mother,
"Your bidding I maun dee;
"But, be never waur to Rose the Red,
"Than ye hae been to me."
She's called upon her youngest son;
"Cum here, my son, to me:
"It fears me sair, my Brown Robin,
"That ye maun sail the sea."
"Gin it fear ye sair, my mother deir,
"Your bidding I sall dee;
But, be never waur to White Lilly,
"Than ye hae been to me."
"Now hand your tongues, ye foolish boys!
"For small sall be their part:
"They ne'er again sall see your face,
"Gin their very hearts suld break."
Sae Bauld Arthur's gane to our king's court,
His hie chamberlain to be;
But Brown Robin, he has slain a knight,
And to grene-wood he did flee.
When Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Saw their twa loves were gane,
Sune did they drop the loud loud sang,
Took up the still mourning.
And out then spake her White Lilly;
"My sister, we'll be gane:
"Why suld we stay in Barnisdale,
"To mourn our hour within?"
O cutted hae they their green cloathing,
A little abune their knee;
And sae hae they their yellow hair,
A little abune their bree.
And left hae they that bonny hour,
To cross the raging sea;
And they hae ta'en to a holy chapel,
Was christened by Our Ladye.
And they hae changed their twa names,
Sae far frae ony toun;
And the tane o' them's hight Sweet Willie,
And the tother's Rouge the Rounde.
Between the twa a promise is,
And they hae sworn it to fulfill;
Whenever the tane blew a bugle-horn,
The tother suld cum her till.
Sweet Willy's gane to the king's court,
Her true love for to see;
And Rouge the Rounde to gude grene-wood,
Brown Robin's man to be.
O it fell anes, upon a time,
They putted at the stane;
And seven foot ayont them a',
Brown Robin's gar'd it gang.
She lifted the heavy putting-stane,
And gave a sad "O hon!"
Then out bespake him, Brown Robin,
"But that's a woman's moan!"
"O kent ye by my rosy lips?
"Or by my yellow hair?
"Or kent ye by my milk-white breast,
"Ye never yet saw bare?"
"I kent na by your rosy lips,
"Nor by your yellow hair;
"But, cum to your bour whaever likes,
"They'll find a ladye there."
"O gin ye come my bour within,
"Through fraud, deceit, or guile,
"Wi' this same brand, that's in my hand,
"I vow I will thee kill."
"Yet durst I cum into your bour,
"And ask nae leave," quo' he;
"And wi' this same brand, that's in my hand,
"Wave danger back on thee."
About the dead hour o' the night,
The ladye's bour was broken;
And, about the first hour o' the day,
The fair knave bairn was gotten.
When days were gane, and months were come,
The ladye was sad and wan;
And aye she cried for a bour woman,
For to wait her upon.
Then up and spake him, Brown Robin,
"And what needs this?" quo' he;
"Or what can woman do for you,
"That canna be done by me?"
"'Twas never my mother's fashion," she said,
"Nor shall it e'er be mine,
"That belted knights should e'er remain
"While ladyes dree'd their pain.
"But, gin ye take that bugle-horn,
"And wind a blast sae shrill,
"I hae a brother in yonder court,
"Will cum me quickly till."
"O gin ye hae a brother on earth,
"That ye lo'e mair than me,
"Ye may blaw the horn yoursell," he says,
"For a blast I winna gie."
She's ta'en the bugle in her hand,
And blawn baith loud and shrill;
Sweet William started at the sound,
And cam her quickly till.
O up and starts him, Brown Robin,
And swore by Our Ladye,
"No man shall cum into this hour,
"But first maun fight wi' me."
O they hae fought the wood within,
Till the sun was going down;
And drops o' blood, frae Rose the Red,
Came pouring to the ground.
She leant her back against an aik,
Said—"Robin, let me be:
"For it is a ladye, bred and born,
"That has fought this day wi' thee."
O seven foot he started back.
Cried—"Alas and woe is me!
"For I wished never, in all my life,
"A woman's bluid to see:
"And that all for the knightly vow
"I swore to Our Ladye;
"But mair for the sake o' ae fair maid,
"Whose name was White Lilly."
Then out and spake her, Rouge the Rounde,
And leugh right heartilie,
"She has been wi' you this year and mair,
"Though ye wistna it was she."
Now word has gane through all the land,
Before a month was gane,
That a forester's page, in gude grene-wood,
Had borne a bonny son.
The marvel gaed to the king's court,
And to the king himsell;
"Now, by my fay," the king did say,
"The like was never heard tell!"
Then out and spake him, Bauld Arthur,
And laugh'd right loud and hie—
"I trow some may has plaid the lown, [A]
"And fled her ain countrie."
"Bring me my steid!" the king can say;
"My bow and arrows keen;
"And I'll gae hunt in yonder wood,
"And see what's to be seen."
"Gin it please your grace," quo' Bauld Arthur,
"My liege, I'll gang you wi';
"And see gin I can meet a bonny page,
"That's stray'd awa frae me."
And they hae chaced in gude grene-wood,
The buck but and the rae,
Till they drew near Brown Robin's hour,
About the close o' day.
Then out and spake the king himsell,
Says—"Arthur, look and see,
"Gin you be not your favourite page,
"That leans against yon tree."
O Arthur's ta'en a bugle-horn,
And blawn a blast sae shrill;
Sweet Willie started to her feet,
And ran him quickly till.
"O wanted ye your meat, Willie,
"Or wanted ye your fee?
"Or gat ye e'er an angry word,
"That ye ran awa frae me?"
"I wanted nought, my master dear;
"To me ye aye was good:
"I cam to see my ae brother,
"That wons in this grene-wood."
Then out bespake the king again,—
"My boy, now tell to me,
"Who dwells into yon bigly bour,
"Beneath yon green aik tree?"
"O pardon me," said Sweet Willy;
"My liege I dare na tell;
"And gang na near yon outlaw's bour,
"For fear they suld you kill."
"O hand your tongue, my bonny boy!
"For I winna be said nay;
"But I will gang yon hour within,
"Betide me weal or wae."
They have lighted frae their milk-white steids,
And saftly entered in;
And there they saw her, White Lilly,
Nursing her bonny young son.
"Now, by the mass," the king he said,
"This is a comely sight;
"I trow, instead of a forester's man,
"This is a ladye bright!"
O out and spake her, Rose the Red,
And fell low on her knee:—
"O pardon us, my gracious liege,
"And our story I'll tell thee.
"Our father is a wealthy lord,
"Lives into Barnisdale;
"But we had a wicked step-mother,
"That wrought us meikle bale.
"Yet had she twa as fu' fair sons,
"As e'er the sun did see;
"And the tane o' them lo'ed my sister deir,
"And the tother said he lo'ed me."
Then out and cried him, Bauld Arthur,
As by the king he stood,—
"Now, by the faith of my body,
"This suld be Rose the Red!
The king has sent for robes o' grene,
And girdles o' shining gold;
And sae sune have the ladyes busked themselves,
Sae glorious to behold.
Then in and came him, Brown Robin,
Frae hunting o' the king's deer,
But when he saw the king himsell,
He started back for fear.
The king has ta'en Robin by the hand,
And bade him nothing dread,
But quit for aye the gude grene wood,
And cum to the court wi' speed.
The king has ta'en White Lilly's son,
And set him on his knee;
Says—"Gin ye live to wield a brand,
"My bowman thou sall be."
They have ta'en them to the holy chapelle,
And there had fair wedding;
And when they cam to the king's court,
For joy the bells did ring.