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Rhys, Ernest, ed. (1859–1946). The Haunters and the Haunted. 1921.

XXIV. Clerk Saunders

“Border Minstrelsy”

CLERK SAUNDERS and May Margaret

 And sad and heavy was the love

 That fell them twa between.

 And thro’ the dark, and thro’ the mirk,

 5And thro’ the leaves o’ green,

 He cam that night to Margaret’s door,

 And tirléd at the pin.

 “O wha is that at my bower door,

 Sae weel my name does ken?”

 You’ll open and let me in?”

“’Tis I, Clerk Saunders, your true love;

 “But in may come my seven bauld brithers,

 Wi’ torches burning bright;

 They’ll say—‘We hae but ae sister,

 “Ye’ll tak my brand I bear in hand,

And behold she’s wi’ a knight!’”

 And wi’ the same ye’ll lift the pin;

 Then ye may swear, and save your aith,

 That ye ne’er let Clerk Saunders in.

 And wi’ the same tie up your een;

“Ye’ll tak the kerchief in your hand,

 Then ye may swear and save your aith,

 Ye saw me na since yestere’en.”

 It was about the midnight hour,

 When in and cam her seven brothers,

When they asleep were laid,

 Wi’ torches burning red.

 When in and cam her seven brothers,

 Wi’ torches burning bright;

 And behold she’s wi’ a knight.”

They said, “We hae but ae sister,

 Then out and spak the first o’ them,

 “We’ll awa’ and lat them be.”

 And out and spak the second o’ them,

 And out and spak the third o’ them,

“His father has nae mair than he!”

 “I wot they are lovers dear!”

 And out and spak the fourth o’ them,

 “They hae lo’ed this mony a year!”

 “It were sin true love to twain!”

Then out and spak the fifth o’ them,

 “’Twere shame,” out spak the sixth o’ them,

 “To slay a sleeping man!”

 Then up and gat the seventh o’ them,

 But he has striped his bright brown brand

And never a word spak he;

 Through Saunders’ fair bodie.

 Clerk Saunders started, and Margaret she turned,

 Into his arms as asleep she lay;

 That was atween thir twae.

And sad and silent was the night,

 And they lay still and sleepit sound,

 Till the day began to daw;

 And kindly to him she did say,

 But he lay still, and sleepit sound,

“It is time, love, you were awa’.”

 Till the sun began to sheen;

 She looked atween her and the wa’,

 And dull, dull were his een.

 The sheets unto the wa’,

She turned the blankets to the foot,

 And there she saw his bloody wound,

 And her tears fast doun did fa’.

 Then in and cam her father dear,

 I’ll carry the dead corpse to the clay

Said, “Let a’ your mournin’ be;

 And then come back and comfort thee.

 “Hold your tongue, my daughter dear,

 And let your mourning be;

 Than his father’s son could be.”

I’ll wed you to a higher match

 “Gae comfort weel your seven sons, father,

 For man sall ne’er comfort me;

 Ye’ll marry me wi’ the Queen o’ Heaven,

 The clinking bell gaed through the toun,

For wedded I ne’er sall be!”

 To carry the dead corse to the clay;

 And Clerk Saunders stood at Margaret’s window,

 ’Twas an hour before the day.

 “Or are ye waking presentlie?

“O are ye sleeping, Margaret?” he says.

 Gie me my faith and troth again,

 I wot, true love, I gied to thee.

 “I canna rest, Margaret,” he says,

 Till ye gie me my faith and troth again,

“Doun in the grave where I must be,

 I wot, true love, I gied to thee.”

 “Your faith and troth ye sall never get,

 Nor our true love sall never twin,

 And kiss me cheek and chin.”

Until ye come within my bower,

 “My mouth it is full cold, Margaret,

 It has the smell, now, of the ground;

 And if I kiss thy comely mouth,

 “O, cocks are crawing a merry midnight,

To the grave thou will be bound.

 I wot the wild-fowls are boding day;

 Gie me my faith and troth again,

 And let me fare me on my way.”

 And our true love shall never twin,

“Thy faith and troth thou sall na get,

 Until ye tell what comes of women,

 I wot, who die in strong travailing.”

 “Their beds are made in the heavens high,

 Weel set about wi’ gillyflowers;

Down at the foot of our good Lord’s knee,

 I wot sweet company for to see.

 “O, cocks are crawing a merry midnight,

 I wot the wild-fowl are boding day;

 And I, ere now, will be missed away.”

The psalms of heaven will soon be sung,

 Then she has ta’en a crystal wand,

 And she has stroken her troth thereon,

 She has given it him out at the shot-window,

 “I thank ye, Margaret; I thank ye, Margaret;

Wi’ mony a sigh and heavy groan.

 And aye I thank ye heartilie;

 Gin ever the dead come for the quick,

 Be sure, Margaret, I’ll come for thee.”

 She clam the wa’ and after him;

It’s hosen, and shoon, and gown, alane,

 Until she cam to the green forest,

 And there she lost the sight o’ him.

 “Is there ony room at your head, Saunders,

 Or ony room at your side, Saunders,

Is there ony room at your feet?

 Where fain, fain, I wad sleep?”

 “There’s nae room at my head, Margaret,

 There’s nae room at my feet;

 ’Mang the hungry worms I sleep.

My bed it is full lowly now:

 “Cauld mould is my covering now,

 But and my winding-sheet;

 The dew it falls nae sooner down,

 “But plait a wand o’ the bonnie birk

Than my resting-place is weet.

 And lay it on my breast;

 And shed a tear upon my grave,

 And wish my saul gude rest.

 And Margaret o’ veritie,

“And fair Margaret, and rare Margaret,

 Gin e’er ye love anither man,

 Ne’er love him as ye did me.”

 Then up and crew the milk-white cock,

 Her lover vanished in the air,

And up and crew the gray;

 And she gaed weeping away.