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THOMAS THE RHYMER.
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, (iv. 117.) Given from a copy, obtained from a lady residing not far from Ereildoune, corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs. Brown's MSS.
True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied wi' his ee; And there he saw a ladye bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o' the velvet fyne; At ilka tett of her horse's mane,
Hung fifty siller bells and nine.
True Thomas, he pull'd aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee, "All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see."—
"O no, O no, Thomas," she said,"That name does not belang to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,
"Harp and carp, Thomas," she said;
"Harp and carp along wi' me; And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I will be."—
"Betide me weal, betide me woe, That weird shall never daunton me."—
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
"Now, ye maun go wi' me," she said;
"True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me; And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro' weal or woe as may chance to be."
She mounted on her milk-white steed;
She's ta'en true Thomas up behind: And aye, whene'er her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on;
The steed gaed swifter than the wind; Until they reach'd a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.
1 That weird, fc.—That destiny shall never frighten me.
"Light down, light down, now, true Thomas,
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will shew you ferlies three.
"O see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
"And see ye not that braid braid road, That lies across that lily leven?That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to heaven.
"And see not ye that bonny road, That winds about the fernie brae?That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
"But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see;
Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie."
O they rade on, and farther on,
And they waded through rivers aboon the knee, And they saw neither sun nor moon, But they heard the roaring of the sea.
It was mirk mirk night, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded through red blude to the knee; For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Rins through the springs o' that countrie.
Syne they came on to a garden green,
"Take this for thy wages, true Thomas;
It will give thee the tongue that can never lie."—
"My tongue is mine ain," true Thomas said;
"A gudely gift ye wad gie to me! I neither dought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.
"I dought neither speak to prince or peer, Nor ask of grace from fair ladye."—
"Now hold thy peace !" the lady said,
He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
And till seven years were gane and past,
i The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of Knowledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect.—Scott.
VOL. VI. 3
The reader is here presented, from an old, and unfortunately an imperfect MS., with the undoubted original of Thomas the Rhymer's intrigue with the Queen of Faery. It will afford great amusement to those who would study the nature of traditional poetry, and the changes effected by oral tradition, to compare this ancient romance with the foregoing ballad. The same incidents are narrated, even the expression is often the same; yet the poems are as different in appearance, as if the older tale had been regularly and systematically modernized by a poet of the present day.
Incipit Prophesia Thomce de Erseldoun.
In a lande as I was lent,