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The Broom of Cowdenknows

No: 217; variant: 217L

  1. O THE broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom grows oer the burn! Aye when I mind on’s bonny yellow hair, I aye hae cause to mourn. There was a bonny, a well-fared may, In the fauld milking her kye, When by came a troop of merry gentlemen, And sae merrily they rode by. O the broom, etc.
  2. The maid she sang till the hills they rang, And a little more forebye, Till in came ane of these gentlemen To the bught o the bonny may.
  3. ‘Well mat ye sing, fair maid,’ he says, ‘In the fauld, milking your kye; The night is misty, weet and dark, And I’ve gane out o my way.’
  4. ‘Keep on the way ye ken, kind sir, Keep on the way ye ken; But I pray ye take care o Clyde’s water, For the stream runs proud and fair.’
  5. ‘I ken you by your lamar beads, And by your blinking ee, That your mother has some other maid To send to the ewes than thee.’
  6. ‘I ken you by your powderd locks, And by your gay gold ring, That ye are the laird o Rock-rock lays, That beguiles all young women.’
  7. ‘I’m not the laird o the Rock-rock lays, Nor ever hopes to be; But I am one o the finest knights That’s in his companie.
  8. ‘Are ye the maid o the Cowden Knowes? I think you seem to be;’ ‘No, I’m not the maid o the Cowden Knowes, Nor ever hopes to be; But I am one of her mother’s maids, And oft in her companie.’
  9. ‘He’s taen her by the milk-white hand, And by her grass-green sleeve, He’s set her down upon the ground Of her kin spierd nae leave.
  10. He’s gien her a silver comb, To comb her yellow hair; He bade her keep it for his sake, For fear she never got mair.
  11. He pat his hand in his pocket, He’s gien her guineas three; Says, Take ye that, fair maid, he says, ‘Twill pay the nourice’s fee.
  12. She’s taen the milk-pail on her head, And she gaed singing hame, And a’ that her auld father did say, ‘Daughter, ye’ve tarried lang.’
  13. ‘Woe be to your shepherd, father, And an ill death mat he die! He’s biggit the bught sae far frae the town, And trystit a man to me.
  14. ‘There came a tod into the bught, The like o ‘m I neer did see; Before he’d taen the lamb he’s taen, I’d rather he’d taen other three.’
  15. Or eer six months were past and gane, Six months but other three, This lassie begud for to fret and frown, And lang for his blinking ee.
  16. It fell upon another day, When ca’ing out her father’s kye, That by came the troop o gentlemen, Sae merrily riding by.
  17. Then ane of them stopt, and said to her, ‘Wha’s aught that bairn ye’re wi?’ The lassie began for to blush, and think, To a father as good as ye.
  18. She turnd her right and round about And thought nae little shame; Then a’ to him that she did say, ‘I’ve a father to my bairn at hame.’
  19. ‘Ye lie, ye lie, ye well-fared may, Sae loud’s I hear ye lie! For dinna ye mind yon misty night I was in the bught wi thee?
  20. ‘I gave you a silver comb, To comb your yellow hair; I bade you keep it for my sake, For fear ye’d never get mair.
  21. ‘I pat my hand in my pocket, I gae you guineas three; I bade you keep them for my sake, And pay the nourice’s fee.’
  22. He’s lappen aff his berry-brown steed And put that fair maid on; ‘Ca hame your kye, auld father,’ he says, ‘She shall never mair return.
  23. ‘I am the laird o the Rock-rock lays, Hae thirty ploughs and three, And this day will wed the fairest maid That eer my eyes did see.’ O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom grows oer the burn! Aye when she minds on his yellow hair, She shall neer hae cause to mourn.