The Broom of Cowdenknows
No: 217; variant: 217H
- THERE was a may, a maiden sae gay,
Went out wi her milking-pail;
Lang she foucht or her ewes wad bucht,
And syne she a milking fell.
- And ay as she sang the rocks they rang,
Her voice gaed loud and shill;
Ye wad hae heard the voice o the maid
On the tap o the ither hill.
- And ay she sang, and the rocks they rang,
Her voice gaed loud and hie;
Till by there cam a troop o gentlemen,
A riding up that way.
- ‘Weel may ye sing, ye bonnie may,
Weel and weel may ye sing!
The nicht is misty, weet, and mirk,
And we hae ridden wrang.’
- ‘Haud by the gate ye cam, kind sir,
Haud by the gate ye cam;
But tak tent o the rank river,
For our streams are unco strang.’
- ‘Can ye na pity me, fair may,
Canna ye pity me?
Canna ye pity my puir steed,
Stands trembling at yon tree?’
- ‘What pity wad ye hae, kind sir?
What wad ye hae frae me?
If he has neither corn nor hay,
He has gerss at libertie.’
- ‘Can ye na pity me, fair may,
Can ye na pity me?
Can ye na pity a gentle knicht
That’s deeing for love o thee?’
- He’s tane her by the milk-white hand,
And by the gerss-green sleeve;
He’s laid her laigh at the bucht-end,
At her kin speird na leave.
- ‘After ye hae tane your will o me,
Your will as ye hae tane,
Be as gude a gentle knicht
As tell to me your name.’
- ‘Some do call me Jack,’ says he,
‘And some do call me John;
But whan I’m in the king’s hie court
Duke William is my name.
- ‘But I ken by your weel-faurd face,
And by your blinking ee,
That ye are the Maid o the Cowdenknows,
And seem very weel to be.’
- ‘I am na the maid o the Cowdenknows,
Nor does not thnk to be;
But I am ane o her best maids,
That’s aft in her companie.
- ‘But I ken by your black, black hat,
And by your gay gowd ring,
That ye are the Laird o Rochna hills,
Wha beguiles a’ our women.’
- ‘I am na the Laird o Rochna hills,
Nor does na think to be;
But I am ane o his best men,
That’s aft in his companie.’
- He’s put his hand in his pocket
And tane out guineas three;
Says, Tak ye that, my bonnie may;
It’ll pay the nourice fee.
- She’s tane her cog upon her head,
And fast, fast gaed she hame:
‘Whare hae ye been, my dear dochter?
Ye hae na been your lane.
- ‘The nicht is misty, weet, and mirk;
Ye may look out and see;
The ewes war skippin oure the knowes,
They wad na bucht in for me.
- ‘But wae be to your shepherd, father,
An ill death may he dee!
He bigget the buchts sae far frae the toun,
And he trysted a man to me.
- ‘There cam a tod amang the flock,
The like o him I neer did see;
Afore he had tane the lamb that he took,
I’d rather he’d tane ither three.’
- Whan twenty weeks war past and gane,
Twenty weeks and three,
The lassie begoud to spit and spue,
And thought lang for ‘s blinkin ee.
- ‘Twas on a day, and a day near bye,
She was ca’ing out the kye,
That by cam a troop o merry gentlemen,
Cam riding bye that way.
- ‘Wha’s gien ye the scorn, bonnie may?
O wha’s done ye the wrang?’
‘Na body, na body, kind sir,’ she said,
‘My baby’s father’s at hame.’
- ‘Ye lee, ye lee, fause may,’ he said,
‘Sae loud as I hear ye lee!
Dinna ye mind o the mirk misty nicht
I buchted the ewes wi thee?’
- ‘Weel may I mind yon mirk misty nicht,
Weel may I mind,’ says she;
‘For ay when ye spak ye lifted up your hat,
Ye had a merry blinkin ee.’
- He’s turned him round and richt about,
And tane the lassie on;
‘Ca out your kye, auld father,’ he said,
‘She sall neer ca them again.
- ‘For I am the Laird o Rochna hills,
O thirty plows and three;
And I hae gotten the bonniest lass
O a’ the west countrie.’
- ‘And I’m the Maid o the Cowdenknows,
O twenty plows and three;
And I hae gotten the bonniest lad
In a’ the north countrie.’