The Battle of Otterburn
No: 161; variant: 161C
- IT fell about the Lammas tide,
When the muir-men win their hay,
The doughty Douglas bound him to ride
Into England, to drive a prey.
- He chose the Gordons and the Graemes,
With them the Lindesays, light and gay;
But the Jardines wald not with him ride,
And they rue it to this day.
- And he has burnd the dales of Tyne,
And part of Bambrough shire,
And three good towers on Reidswire fells,
He left them all on fire.
- And he marchd up to Newcastle,
And rode it round about:
‘O wha’s the lord of this castle?
Or wha’s the lady o’t?’
- But up spake proud Lord Percy then,
And O but he spake hie!
I am the lord of this castle,
My wife’s the lady gay.
- ‘If thou’rt the lord of this castle,
Sae weel it pleases me,
For, ere I cross the Border fells,
The tane of us shall die.’
- He took a lang spear in his hand,
Shod with the metal free,
And for to meet the Douglas there
He rode right furiouslie.
- But O how pale his lady lookd,
Frae aff the castle-wa,
When down before the Scottish spear
She saw proud Percy fa.
- ‘Had we twa been upon the green,
And never an eye to see,
I wad hae had you, flesh and fell;
But your sword sall gae wi me.’
- ‘But gae ye up to Otterbourne,
And, wait there dayis three,
And, if I come not ere three dayis end,
A fause knight ca ye me.’
- ‘The Otterbourne’s a bonnie burn;
‘Tis pleasant there to be;
But there is nought at Otterbourne
To feed my men and me.
- ‘The deer rins wild on hill and dale,
The birds fly wild from tree to tree;
But there is neither bread nor kale
To fend my men and me.
- ‘Yet I will stay at Otterbourne,
Where you shall welcome be;
And, if ye come not at three dayis end,
A fause lord I’ll ca thee.’
- ‘Thither will I come,’ proud Percy said,
‘By the might of Our Ladye;’
‘There will I bide thee,’ said the Douglas,
‘My troth I plight to thee.’
- They lighted high on Otterbourne,
Upon the bent sae brown;
They lighted high on Otterbourne,
And threw their pallions down.
- And he that had a bonnie boy,
Sent out his horse to grass;
And he that had not a bonnie boy,
His ain servant he was.
- But up then spake a little page,
Before the peep of dawn:
‘O waken ye, waken ye, my good lord,
For Percy’s hard at hand.’
- ‘Ye lie, ye lie, ye liar loud!
Sae loud I hear ye lie:
For Percy had not men yestreen
To dight my men and me.
- ‘But I have dreamd a dreary dream,
Beyond the Isle of Sky;
I saw a dead man win a fight,
And I think that man was I.’
- He belted on his guid braid sword,
And to the field he ran,
But he forgot the helmet good,
That should have kept his brain.
- When Percy with the Douglas met,
I wat he was fu fain;
They swakked their swords, till sair they swat,
And the blood ran down like rain.
- But Percy with his good broad sword,
That could so sharply wound,
Has wounded Douglas on the brow,
Till he fell to the ground.
- Then he calld on his little foot-page,
And said, Run speedilie,
And fetch my ain dear sister’s son,
Sir Hugh Montgomery.
- ‘My nephew good,’ the Douglas said,
‘What recks the death of ane!
Last night I dreamd a dreary dream,
And I ken the day’s thy ain.
- ‘My wound is deep; I fain would sleep;
Take thou the vanguard of the three,
And hide me by the braken-bush,
That grows on yonder lilye lee.
- ‘O bury me by the braken-bush,
Beneath the blooming brier;
Let never living mortal ken
That ere a kindly Scot lies here.’
- He lifted up that noble lord,
Wi the saut tear in his ee;
He hid him in the braken-bush,
That his merrie men might not see.
- The moon was clear, the day drew near,
The spears in flinders flew,
But mony a gallant Englishman
Ere day the Scotsmen slew.
- The Gordons good, in English blood
They steepd their hose and shoon;
The Lindsays flew like fire about,
Till all the fray was done.
- The Percy and Montgomery met,
That either of other were fain;
They swapped swords, and they twa swat,
And aye the blood ran down between.
- ‘Now yield thee, yield thee, Percy,’ he said,
‘Or else I vow I’ll lay thee low!’
‘To whom must I yield,’ quoth Earl Percy,
‘Now that I see that it must be so?’
- ‘Thou shalt not yield to lord nor loun,
Nor yet shalt thou yield to me;
But yield thee to the braken-bush,
That grows upon yon lilye lee.’
- ‘I will not yield to a braken-bush,
Nor yet will I yield to a brier;
But I would yield to Earl Douglas,
Or Sir Hugh the Montgomery, if he were here.’
- As soon as he knew it was Montgomery,
He struck his sword’s point in the gronde;
The Montgomery was a courteous knight,
And quickly took him by the honde.
- This deed was done at the Otterbourne,
About the breaking of the day;
Earl Douglas was buried at the braken-bush,
And the Percy led captive away.