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"The neist curse lights on Branxton hills:
By Flodden's high and heathery side,
Shall wave a banner red as blude,
And chieftains throng wi' meikle pride.

"A Scottish King shall come full keen, The ruddy lion beareth he; A feather'd arrow sharp, I ween,

Shall make him wink and warre to see.

"When he is bloody, and all to bledde, Thus to his men he still shall say'For God's sake, turn ye back again, And give yon southern folk a fray! Why should I lose, the right is mine? My doom is not to die this day.' 3

"Yet turn ye to the eastern hand, And woe and wonder ye sall see; How forty thousand spearmen stand,

Where yon rank river meets the sea.

"There shall the lion lose the gylte,

And the libbards bear it clean away; At Pinkyn Cleuch there shall be spilt Much gentil bluid that day."

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THOMAS THE RHYMER was renowned among his contemporaries, as the author of the celebrated romance of Sir Tristrem. Of this once-admired poem only one copy is now known to exist, which is in the Advocates' Library. The Editor, in 1804, published a small edition of this curious work; which, if it does not revive the reputation of the bard of Ercildoune, is at least the earliest specimen of Scottish poetry hitherto published. Some account of this romance has already been given to the world in Mr. ELLIS's Specimens of Ancient Poetry, vol. i. p. 165, iii. p. 410; a work to which our predecessors and our posterity are alike obliged; the former, for the preservation of the best-selected examples of their poetical taste; and the latter, for a history of the English language, which will only cease to be interesting with the existence of our mother-tongue, and all that genius and learning have recorded in it. It is sufficient here to mention, that so great was the reputation of the romance of Sir Tristrem, that few were thought capable of reciting it after the manner of the author-a circumstance alluded to by Robert de Brunne, the annalist :

"I see in song, in sedgeyng tale,

Of Erceldoun, and of Kendale,
Now thame says as they thame wroght,
And in thare saying it semes nocht.
That thou may here in Sir Tristrem,
Over gestes it has the steme,
Over all that is or was;

If men it said as made Thomas," &c.

It appears, from a very curious MS. of the thirteenth century, penes Mr. Douce of London, containing a French metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, that the work of our Thomas the Rhymer was known, and re

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ferred to, by the minstrels of Normandy and Bretagne Having arrived at a part of the romance where reciters were wont to differ in the mode of telling the story, the French bard expressly cites the authority of the poet of Ercildoune:

" Plusurs de nos granter ne volent,
Co que del naim dire se solent,
Ki femme Kaherdin dut aimer,
Li naim redut Tristram narrer,
E entusché par grant engin,
Quant il afole Kaherdin;
Pur cest plai e pur cest mal,
Enveiad Tristram Guvernal,
En Engleterre pur Ysolt:
THOMAS ico granter ne volt,
Et si volt par raisun mostrer,
Qu' ico ne put pas esteer," &c.

The tale of Sir Tristrem, as narrated in the Edinburgh MS., is totally different from the voluminous romance in prose, originally compiled on the same subject by Rusticien de Puise, and analyzed by M. de Tressan; but agrees in every essential particular with the metrical performance just quoted, which is a work of much higher antiquity.

The following attempt to commemorate the Rhymer's poetical fame, and the traditional account of his marvellous return to Fairy Land, being entirely modern, would have been placed with greater propriety among the class of Modern Ballads, had it it not been for its immediate connexion with the first and second parts of the same story.



WHEN seven years more were come and gono,
Was war through Scotland spread,
And Ruberslaw show'd high Dunyon1
His beacon blazing red.

Then all by bonny Coldingknow,?

Pitch'd palliouns took their room, And crested helms, and spears a-rowe, Glanced gaily through the broom.

The Leader, rolling to the Tweed,
Resounds the ensenzie;3

They roused the deer from Caddenhead,
To distant Torwoodlee.4

The spot is rendered classical by its having given name to the beautiful melody called the Broom o' the Cowdenknows. 3 Ensenzie-War-cry, or gathering word.

4 Torwoodlee and Caddenhead are places in Selkirkshire; both the property of Mr. Pringle of Torwood lea


The feast was spread in Ercildoune,

In Learmont's high and ancient hall : And there were knights of great renown, And ladies, laced in pall.

Nor lacked they, while they sat at dine,
The music nor the tale,
Nor goblets of the blood-red wine,
Nor mantling quaighs1 of ale.

True Thomas rose, with harp in hand,
When as the feast was done :
(In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land,
The elfin harp he won.)

Hush'd were the throng, both limb and tongue,

And harpers for envy pale;

And armed lords lean'd on their swords,
And hearken'd to the tale.

In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet pour'd along;

No after bard might e'er avail
Those numbers to prolong.

Yet fragments of the lofty strain
Float down the tide of years,
As, buoyant on the stormy main,
A parted wreck appears.3

He sung King Arthur's Table Round:
The Warrior of the Lake;

How courteous Gawaine met the wound,"
And bled for ladies' sake.

But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,
The notes melodious swell;
Was none excell'd in Arthur's days,
The knight of Lionelle.

For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,
A venom'd wound he bore;
When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,
Upon the Irish shore.

No art the poison might withstand;
No medicine could be found,

Till lovely Isolde's lily hand

Had probed the rankling wound.

With gentle hand and soothing tongue
She bore the leech's part;

And, while she o'er his sick-bed hung,
He paid her with his heart.

O fatal was the gift, I ween!

For, doom'd in evil tide,

The maid must be rude Cornwall's queen,
His cowardly uncle's bride.

Their loves, their woes, the gifted bard
In fairy tissue wove;

Where lords, and knights, and ladies bright,
In gay confusion strove.

The Garde Joyeuse, amid the tale,
High rear'd its glittering head;
And Avalon's enchanted vale
In all its wonders spread.

Brangwain was there, and Segramore,
And fiend-born Merlin's gramarye;
Of that famed wizard's mighty lore,
O who could sing but he?

Through many a maze the winning song
In changeful passion led,

Till bent at length the listening throng
O'er Tristrem's dying bed.

His ancient wounds their scars expand,
With agony his heart is wrung:

O where is Isolde's lilye hand,

And where her soothing tongue?

She comes! she comes!-like flash of flame
Can lovers' footsteps fly:

She comes! she comes!-she only came
To see her Tristrem die. -

She saw him die; her latest sigh

Join'd in a kiss his parting breath,
The gentlest pair, that Britain bare,
United are in death.

There paused the harp: its lingering sound
Died slowly on the ear;

The silent guests still bent around,
For still they seem'd to hear.

Then woe broke forth in murmurs weak:
Nor ladies heaved alone the sigh;
But, half ashamed, the rugged cheek
Did many a gauntlet dry.

On Leader's stream, and Learmont's tower,
The mists of evening close;

In camp, in castle, or in bower,
Each warrior sought repose.

1 Quaighs-Wooden cups, composed of staves hooped toge- 1804, as a noble contrast to the ordinary humility of the ge


2 See Introduction to this ballad.

nuine ballad diction.-ED.

4 Sce, in the Fabliaux of Monsieur le Grand, elegantly translated by the late Gregory Way, Esq., the tale of the

3 This stanza was quoted by the Edinburgh Reviewer, of Knight and the Sword. [Vol. ii. p. 3.]

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NOTE B.-P. 574.

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 Brophesia Thomæ de Erseldoun.
In a lande as I was lent,

In the gryking of the day,

Ay alone as I went,

In Huntle bankys me for to play;

I saw the throstyl, and the jay,
Ye mawes movyde of her song,
Ye wodwale sange notes gay,
That al the wod about range.
In that longyng as I lay,
Undir nethe a dern tre,
I was war of a lady gay,
Come rydyng ouyr a fair le :
Zogh I suld sitt to domysday,
With my tong to wrabbe and wry,
Certenly all hyr aray,

It beth neuyer discryuyd for mc.
Hyr palfra was dappyll gray,
Sycke on say neuer none;
As the son in somers day,
All abowte that lady schone.
Hyr sadel was of a rewel bone,
A semly syght it was to sc,

Bryht with mony a precyous stone,
And compasyd all with crapste;
Stones of oryens, gret plente,
Her hair about her hede it hang,
She rode ouer the farnyle,

A while she blew, a while she sang,
Her girths of nobil silke they were,
Her boculs were of beryl stone,
Sadyll and brydil war - -;
With sylk and sendel about bedone,
Hyr patyrel was of a pall fyne,
And hyr croper of the arase,
Her brydil was of gold fine,

On euery syde forsothe hang bells thre,

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He sayd Yonder is Mary of Might,

That bar the child that died for me,

Certes bot I may speke with that lady bright,
Myd my hert will breke in three;

I schal me hye with all my might,
Hyr to mete at Eldyn Tre.
Thomas rathly up her rase,
And ran ouer mountayn hye,
If it he sothe the story says,
He met her euyn at Eldyn Tre.
Thomas knelyd down on his kne
Undir nethe the grene wood spray,
And sayd, Lovely lady, thou ruc on me,

Queen of Heaven as you may well be,
But I am a lady of another countrie,
If I be pareld most of prise,

I ride after the wild fee,
My ratches rinnen at my devya.
If thou be pareld most of prise,
And rides a lady in strang foly,
Lovely lady, as thou art wise,
Giue you me leue to lige ye by.
Do way, Thomas, that were foly,
I pray ye, Thomas, late me be,
That sin will fordo all my bewtie.
Lovely ladye, rewe on me,
And euer more I shall with ye dwell,
Here my trowth I plyght to thee,
Where you belieues in heuin or hell.
Thomas, and you myght lyge me by,
Undir nethe this grene wode spray,
Thou would tell full hastely,
That thou had layn by a lady gay.
Lady, mote I lyge by the,
Undir nethe the grene wode tre,
For all the gold in chrystenty,
Suld you neuer be wryede for me.
Man on molde you will me marre,

And yet bot you may haf your will,

Trow you well, Thomas, you cheuyst ye warre;
For all my bewtie wilt you spill.
Down lyghtyd that lady bryzt,
Undir nethe the grene wode spray,
And as ye story sayth full ryzt,
Seuyn tymes by her he lay.

She sayd, Man, you lyst thi play,

What berde in bouyr may dele with thee,

That maries me all this long day;

I pray ye, Thomas, let me be.
Thomas stode up in the stede,
And behelde the lady gay,

Her heyre hang down about hyr hede,
The tane was blak, the other gray,
Her eyn semyt onte before was gray,
Her gay clethyng was all away,
That he before had sene in that stede
Hyr body as blow as ony bede.
Thomas sighede, and sayd, Allas,
Me thynke this a dullfull syght,
That thou art fadyd in the face,
Before you shone as son so bryzt.
Tak thy leue, Thomas, at son and mene,
At gresse, and at euery tre,

This twelmonth sall you with me gone,
Medyl erth you sall not se.

Alas, he seyd, ful wo is me,

I trow my dedes will werke me care,
Jesu, my sole tak to ye,

Whedir so euyr my body sal fare.
She rode furth with all her myzt,
Undir nethe the derne lee,

It was as derke as at midnizt,
And euyr in water unto the kne;
Through the space of days thre,
He herde but swowyng of a flode;
Thomas sayd, Ful wo is me,
Now I spyll for fawte of fode;
To a garden she lede him tyte,
There was fruyte in grete plente,
Peyres and appless ther were rype,
The date and the damese,

The figge and als fylbert tre;
The nyghtyngale bredyng in her neste.
The papigaye about gan fle,

The throstylcock sang wald hate no rest.

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