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The Broom of Cowdenknows

No: 217; variant: 217H

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. ‘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.’
  5. ‘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.’
  6. ‘Can ye na pity me, fair may, Canna ye pity me? Canna ye pity my puir steed, Stands trembling at yon tree?’
  7. ‘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.’
  8. ‘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?’
  9. 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.
  10. ‘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.’
  11. ‘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.
  12. ‘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.’
  13. ‘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.
  14. ‘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.’
  15. ‘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.’
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. ‘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.
  19. ‘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.
  20. ‘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.’
  21. 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.
  22. ‘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.
  23. ‘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.’
  24. ‘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?’
  25. ‘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.’
  26. 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.
  27. ‘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.’
  28. ‘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.’