Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Mary Lee: A Ballad

What ails ye, bonnie Mary Lee?
What gars ye greet an' pine?
Your e'e is dim, your cheek is wan-
What ails ye, Mary, mine?
Kame back, kame back the raven hair
That wauners owre your broo,
Gae to the burn, lave cheek an' chin,
My bonnie mournin' doo.
I ken your saunted mither's gane
The gate we a' maun gae,
But weel we houp she's wi' the blest,
Then wharfore mourn ye sae?
Come, sit ye doun beside me, lass,
An' tell your waesume tale-
Sair it maun be, my Mary Lee,
That mak's yer cheek sae pale.
She drew a creepie to her side,
An' dichtit aye her een:-
O, Leezie, lass, I'se tell ye a',
My truest, dearest frien'.
Ye ken't young Jock o' Benty Knowe,
A lad that bare the gree,
Whare'er he gaed nae ither Joe
Was hauf sae dear to me.
For towmonds twa he courtit me;
At market, kirk, an' fair,
Ye wadna' miss'd him frae my side,
The brawest, blythest there.
I never thocht to tine his luve,
Or yet my ain to hide,
An' whan he speer't, I gied consent
To be his bonnie bride.
Anither towmond we agreed
To wait; syne fu' an bien
Oor wee cot hoose shou'd plenish't be,
Baith cozie, tosh, an' clean.
Sune after this, he didna' come
Sae aften as before;
An' sune nae mair his weel-kenn'd chap
Cam tirlin' on the door.
An' oh! I thocht my heart wad break!
I cou'dna think or guess
What I had said or dune to mak'
Him lo'e me ony less.
An' a' my pride o' maidhood rase!
I wadna' yield to speer
What had come owre him, tho' I kent
I lo'ed him true an' dear.
My mournfu' e'e an' wallow't cheek
My guid aul' faither saw;
'My bairn,' quo' he, 'what's come o' Jock?
He ne'er comes here ava'.
'If he's deceiv'd my bonnie bairn,
An' cast her luve awa',
Whan he had won her artless heart,
O! black sall be his fa'!
'But there's young Jamie o' Blackhill,
A better man than he,
He lo'es the very yird ye tread,
My bonnie Mary Lee.
'He's come o' honest godly folk,
An' leads a sober life,
An' thou hast tauld me that he aft
Has socht thee for his wife.
'An' but yestreen he said to me,
If you an' him agree,
Wull you gie me your free guid-wull
To wed your Mary Lee?
'An' I ha'e gi'en my free guid-wull,
An' I sall bless ye baith,
Sae think nae mair o' Benty's Jock,
He's dune thee scorn an' skaith.'
But, Leezie, Jamie o' Blackhill
Was never nocht to me,
Tho' ne'er a nae-say he wad tak',
Or ever let me be.
Ae nicht, whan stan'in at the door,
I saw him comin' roun'
The gavel-en'; an' oh, my heart
Gied sic a waesume stoun!
Sae blythe and bauld he stappit up,
'Noo, Mary,' whisper'd he,
'I'm come to seek ye for my ain,
Your faither's pleased wi' me.
'Let byganes a' be byganes noo,
An' say ye'll be my wife,
Ye'll ne'er hae cause to rue the word
Your langest day in life.'
My faither then cam' to the door,
An' brocht him kin'ly ben,
Syne bade me bring the bread an' cheese,
An' fill the tappit hen.
An' lang an' couthie was the crack,
But ne'er a word said I,
Till faither said-Hech, Mary, lass,
Ye'r unco dull and shy.
Neist owk, my lass we'll buy the braws,
To busk oor bonnie bride,
For sune ye to the kirk maun gang,
Wi' Jamie by yer side.
For I've been tauld what to my bairn
I like na weel to tell,
That Benty Knowe has a' the while
Been coortin' Bartie's Bell.
I've seen o' simmers aughty-seven,
An' sune maun lea' thee, bairn,
An' had it been wi' Benty's Jock,
Thou wad been sair forfairn.
But Jamie is a truthfu' chiel,
An' lo'es thee as his life,
An' fain am I afore I dee,
To see thee made his wife.
Wi' thy consent, on Sabbath neist,
He'll juist pit in the cries;
An' Benty Knowe an' mony mae
Will get a great surprise.
O, Leezie, lass, what wad ye dune
Had ye been in my place?
That nicht I kneel't afore the Lord
An' pray'd for help o' grace-
That I micht schule my rebel heart
To dae my faither's will;
For oh! hoo sall I tell thee, lass,
I lo'e the fautor still.
Neist Sabbath we were cried in kirk;
On Monday nicht cam' he;
His face was white as ony ghaist,
The tear was in his e'e.
I maist had swarf't whan to the door
I gaed and saw him staun,
He cou'dna leuk me in the face,
But tried to tak' my haun.
But I drew back:-'What want ye, Jock?
Hae ye come here to tell
Hoo in your wooin' you hae sped
Wi' Bartie's bonny Bell?
'Ye've dune yer best to break my hert,
An' smoor't wi' grief an' shame
But if ye can forgie yersell,
I'se try to dae the same.'
He leukit up, an' sic a leuk,
Sae fu' o' shame an' wae!-
That leuk I never sall forget
Until my deein' day.
I turn'd me richt an' roun' aboot,
'Fareweel, fareweel for life!'
Said I: 'Whan neist ye see me, Jock,
I'm Jamie Wilson's wife.'
My faither by the crusie sat,
The Bible on his knee;
I flung my airms aroun' his neck-
'O, faither, pray for me!'
He drew me doun upon his knee,
An' dichtet aff my cheek
The het, het tears; my heart was fu',
He saw I cou'dna' speak.
'Oh, I hae pray'd, an' I sall pray
For thee baith e'en an' morn;
A dearer or a better bairn
Was ne'er o' woman born.'
An' noo I'll murne an' pine nae mair,
But tent my faither's life
Wi' muckle care, an' strive to be
Kin' Jamie's faithfu' wife.
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