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The Battle of Harlaw

No: 163; variant: 163A

  1. AS I cam in by Dunidier, An doun by netherha, There was fifty thousand Hielanmen A-marching to Harlaw. Wi a dree dree dradie drumtie dree.
  2. As I cam on, an farther on, An doun an by Balquhain, Oh there I met Sir James the Rose, Wi him Sir John the Gryme.
  3. 'O cam ye frae the Hielans, man? An cam ye a' the wey? Saw ye Macdonell an his men, As they cam frae the Skee?'
  4. 'Yes, me cam frae ta Hielans, man, An me cam a' ta wey, An she saw Macdonell and his men, As they cam frae ta Skee.'
  5. 'Oh was ye near Macdonell's men? Did ye their numbers see? Come, tell to me, John Hielanman, What micht their numbers be?'
  6. 'Yes, me was near, an near eneuch, An me their numbers saw; There was fifty thousan Hielanmen A-marchin to Harlaw.'
  7. 'Gin that be true,' says James the Rose, 'We'll no come meikle speed; We'll cry upo our merry men, And lichtly mount our steed.'
  8. 'Oh no, oh no,' says John the Gryme, 'That thing maun never be; The gallant Grymes were never bate, We'll try phat we can dee.'
  9. As I cam on, an farther on, An doun an by Harlaw, They fell fu close on ilka side; Sic fun ye never saw.
  10. They fell fu close on ilka side, Sic fun ye never saw; For Hielan swords gied clash for clash, At the battle o Harlaw.
  11. The Hielanmen, wi their lang swords, They laid on us fu sair, An they drave back our merry men Three acres breadth and mair.
  12. Brave Forbe:s to his brither did say, Noo brither, dinna ye see? They beat us back on ilka side, An we'se be forced to flee.
  13. 'Oh no, oh no, my brither dear, That thing maun never be; Tak ye your good sword in your hand, An come your wa's wi me.'
  14. 'Oh no, oh no, my brither dear, The clans they are ower strang, An they drive back our merry men, Wi swords baith sharp an lang.'
  15. Brave Forbe:s drew his men aside, Said, Tak your rest a while, Until I to Drumminnor send, To fess my coat o mail.
  16. The servan he did ride, An his horse it did na fail, For in twa hours an a quarter He brocht the coat o mail.
  17. Then back to back the brithers twa Gaed in amo the thrang, An they hewed doun the Hielanmen, Wi swords baith sharp and lang.
  18. Macdonell, he was young an stout, Had on his coat o mail, An he has gane oot throw them a', To try his han himsell.
  19. The first ae straik that Forbe:s strack, He garrt Macdonell reel, An the neist ae straik that Forbe:s strack, The great Macdonell fell.
  20. An siccan a lierachie I'm sure ye never saw As wis amo the Hielanmen, When they saw Macdonell fa.
  21. An whan they saw that he was deid, They turnd an ran awa, An they buried him in Leggett's Den, A large mile frae Harlaw.
  22. They rade, they ran, an some did gang, They were o sma record; But Forbe:s an his merry men, They slew them a' the road.
  23. On Monanday, at mornin, The battle it began, On Saturday, at gloamin, Ye'd scarce kent wha had wan.
  24. An sic a weary buryin I'm sure ye never saw As wis the Sunday after that, On the muirs aneath Harlaw.
  25. Gin ony body speer at you For them ye took awa, Ye may tell their wives and bairnies They're sleepin at Harlaw.