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Thomas Percy (1729-1811)

Edward, Edward


              1Why dois your brand sae drap wi' bluid,
              2Edward, Edward?
              3Why dois your brand sae drap wi' bluid?
              4And why sae sad gang ye, O?
              5O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
              6Mither, mither,
              7O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
              8And I had nae mair bot hee, O.

              9Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
            10Edward, Edward,
            11Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
            12My deir son I tell thee, O.
            13O, I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
            14Mither, mither,
            15O, I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
            16That erst was sae fair and frie, O.

            17Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
            18Edward, Edward,
            19Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
            20Sum other dule ye drie, O.
            21O, I hae killed my fadir deir,
            22Mither, mither,
            23O, I hae killed my fadir deir,
            24Alas, and wae is mee, O.

            25And whatten penance wul ye drie for that,
            26Edward, Edward?
            27And whatten penance will ye drie for that?
            28My deir son, now tell me, O.
            29Ile set my feit in yonder boat,
            30Mither, mither,
            31Il set my feit in yonder boat,
            32And Ile fare ovir the sea, O.

            33And what wul ye doe wi' your towirs and your ha',
            34Edward, Edward?
            35And what wul ye doe wi' your towirs and your ha',
            36That were sae fair to see, O?
            37Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa',
            38Mither, mither,
            39Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa',
            40For here nevir mair maun I bee, O.

            41And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
            42Edward, Edward?
            43And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
            44Whan ye gang ovir the sea, O?
            45The warldis room, late them beg thrae life,
            46Mither, mither,
            47The warldis room, let them beg thrae life,
            48For thame nevir mair wul I see, O.

            49And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir,
            50Edward, Edward?
            51And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir?
            52My deir son, now tell mee, O.
            53The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
            54Mither, mither,
            55The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
            56Sic counseils ye gave to me, O.

Notes

1] In 1765, Thomas Percy, later Bishop of Dromore, published in three volumes his collection of "old heroic ballads, songs and other pieces of our earlier poets together with some few of later date," under the title Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, The edition contained, in addition to a dedication to the Countess of Northumberland and a preface, an "Essay on the Ancient English Minstrels" which was, in part, responsible for the increasing interest in the ballad and minstrel literature of the past. It encouraged one poet at least, James Beattie (1735-1803), to write one of the century's best poems in the Spenserian stanza, The Minstrel (1771-74). Percy collected his materials from old manuscripts, from English and Scottish correspondents, from earlier printings of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century ballads, from the archives of various antiquarian societies, and from earlier collections of ballads, especially the Pepys collection, "near 2000 in number, which he has left pasted in five volumes in folio," in the Library of Magdalen College, Cambridge. The text of this ballad is based upon that of the first edition of the Reliques. According to Percy's description, the poem is "a Scottish ballad," and was obtained "from a MS. copy transmitted from Scotland." In a version recorded in Scotland some years later, and in an analogous Scandinavian ballad, a brother, not a father, has been murdered. Noteworthy in the version here given is the use of repetition to produce suspense, and the withholding of the mother's guilt until the close to effect surprise and shock.
"Why does your sword so drop with blood?"

4] gang: walk.

5] guid: good.

8] nae mair bot: no more but, none but.

16] erst: formerly.

17] auld: old.

20] "Some other grief you are enduring."

24] wae: woe.

25] whatten: what kind of.

33] ha': hall.

37] fa': fall.

40] maun: must.

45] The warldis room: the world's large.
late: let. thrae: through.

49] ain: own.

53] frae: from.
sall: shall.
heir: bear.

56] Sic: such.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). 3rd. edn. (London: J. Dodsley, 1775). B-11 6294 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1765
Publication date note: (but much earlier)
RPO poem editor: G. G. Falle
RP edition: 3RP 2.231.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Rhyme: abacadac


Other poems by Thomas Percy