The Brother Avenged - and Other Ballads - - - Translator: George Borrow
by Thomas J. Wise
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Transcribed from the 1913 Thomas J. Wise pamphlet by David Price, email





Copyright in the United States of America by Houghton Mifflin & Co. for Clement Shorter.


I stood before my masters board, The skinkers office plying; The herald-men brought tidings then That my brother was murdered lying.

I followed my lord unto his bed, By his dearest down he laid him; Then my courser out of the stall I led, And with saddle and bit arrayed him.

I sprang upon my coursers back, With the spur began to goad him; And ere I drew his bridle to, Full fifteen leagues I rode him.

And when I came to the noisy hall Where the Kemps carouse were keeping, O then I saw my mother dear Oer the corse of my brother weeping.

Then I laid an arrow on my good bow, The bow that never deceived me; And straight I shot the Kings Kempions twelve, Of my brother who had bereaved me.

And then to the Ting I rode away, Where the judges twelve were seated; Of six to avenge my brother I begged, And of six protection entreated.

For the third time rode I to the Ting, For deep revenge I lusted; Up stood the liege-man of the King, And at me fiercely thrusted.

Up stood the liege-man of the King, With a furious thrust toward me; And the Judges twelve rose in the Ting, And an outlawd man declared me.

Then I laid an arrow on my good bow, And the bow to its utmost bent I; And into the heart of the Kings liege-man The sharp, sharp arrow sent I.

Then away from the Ting amain I sped, And my good steed clomb in hurry; There was nothing for me but to hasten and flee, And myself mong the woods to bury.

And hidden for eight long years I lay Amid the woods so lonely; Id nothing to eat in that dark retreat But grass and green leaves only.

Id nothing to eat in that dark retreat, Save the grass and leaves I devoured; No bed-fellows crept to the place where I slept, But bears that brooned and roared.

So near at hand was the holy tide Of our Lady of mercies tender; The King of the Swedes his followers leads, And rides to the Church in splendour.

So I laid an arrow on my good bow, As I looked from the gap so narrow; And into the heart of the Swedish King I sent the yard-long arrow.

Now lies on the ground the Swedish King, And the blood from his death-wound showers; So blythe is my breast, though still I must rest Amid the forest bowers.


To kiss a pair of red lips small Full many a lover sighs; If I kiss anything at all, Let it be Sophys eyes. The eyes, the eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; Too dear I prize the eyes, the eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.

Were I the Czar, my kingly crown, My troops and victories, And fair renown Id all lay down To kiss but Sophys eyes. The charming eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; Too dear I prize the charming eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.

Perhaps Ive seen a fairer face, Though hers may well surprise; A form perhaps of lovelier grace, But, oh! the eyes, the eyes! The matchless eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; I well may prize the matchless eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.

What with the polished diamond-stone Can vie beneath the skies? Oh, it is vied and far outshone By Sophys beaming eyes. By Sophys eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; Well may I prize the beaming eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.

The sun of June burns furiously, And brooks and meadows dries; But, oh, with more intensity Burn cruel Sophys eyes! The wicked eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; Too dear I prize the wicked eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.

O, soon beneath their piercing ray, Like some parched plant which dies, Wither shall I, poor youth, away? And all for Sophys eyes. But bless the eyes, whose witcheries Have filled my heart with care; Till Death Ill prize and bless the eyes Of Sophy Ribeaupierre.


With the leaves of the myrtle Ill cover my brand, Like Harmodius and Aristogiton of yore; When the tyrant they slew, and their dear native land They caused with just laws to be governed once more.

O, beloved Harmodius! thou still art not dead, In the Isles of the Blest thou still livest, they say; Where the swift-heeld Achilles and bold Diomed Through sweet flowery meadows continually stray.

With the leaves of the myrtle Ill cover my blade, Like Harmodius and Aristogiton of yore; Who, whilst the high rites to Athena were paid, The bold tyrant Hipparchus extended in gore.

And on earth ever, ever your glory shall glow, Harmodius and Aristogiton, sun-bright; Because ye the damnable tyrant laid low, And restored to your country her law and her right.


My dainty Dame, my hearts delight, Star of my watch, serene and bright; Come to the green wood, mild is May, Cosy the arbours, come away!

In me thy spouse and servant see, To silvan hall Ill usher thee; Thy bed shall be the leaves heaped high, Thy organs note the cuckoos cry. Thy covert warm the kindly wood, No fairer form therein eer stood. Thy dress, my beauteous gem, shall be Soft foliage stript from forest tree; The foliage best the forest bore, Served as a garb for Eve of yore. Thou, too, throughout the summer day Shalt rove around in Eves array. My Eve thou art, my ever dear, Thy Adam Ill attend and cheer.

Come to the green wood, come away, The floor with grass and flowers is gay! There neath no tree shalt thou descry In churlish guise old jealousy. Fear not my love, afar is now The loon, thy tiresome lord, I trow; To all a jest amidst his clan He choler deals in Cardigan. Here, nestled nigh the sounding sea, In Ifors bush well ever be. More bliss for us our fate propounds On Tafs green banks than Teivis bounds; Thy caitiff wight is scarce aware Where now we lurk, my little fair. Ah! better here, in loves sweet thrall, To hark the cuckoos hearty call, Than pine through life in castle hall!


O, Baillie Na Cortie! thy turrets are tall, Descried from their top is the oncoming foe; Though numerous the warriors that watch on thy wall, Thy hope and thy trust are in Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! thy chieftains abound With courage no dangers can ever lay low; In the day of the fight can their equals be found, When is roared to the heavens heights Grasach Abo?

O, Baillie Na Cortie! brave helps thou hast nigh, Will rise at thy summons full quickly I trow; The Shortuls, Roothes, Shees, clans so mighty and high, Will rise on the foemen of Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! thy banner shall bound Blood red in the winds oer the battle that blow; When thy lion so gallant breathes terror around, And thy soldiers are shouting out Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! thy armoury boasts The arms of great chiefs on the wall in a row; Gilliepatrick let fall, and O More of the hosts, When they ran in red rout before Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! when blazed the bright swords, Thy sons gave the Butlers a signal oerthrow; When Desmond was scattered with all his dark hordes, He loathed the wild war whoop of Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! thou needest no aid Of strangers the day when the blood torrents flow; The Brennaghs, Powrs, Parcels with buckler and blade, Shall triumph and feast with the Grasach Abo.

O, Baillie Na Cortie! thy bards hope to praise Thee, thee through long ages undarkened with woe; And him, thy brave chieftain, his bountiful ways, And the heroes who bleed for the Grasach Abo.


Sick in Ribe Dagmars lying, Soon shell be in Ringsteds wall; All the Dames in Denmark dwelling Unto her she bids them call.

Fetch me four, fetch five, I pray ye, Fetch me those for wisdom famed; Fetch Sir Carl of Haves sister, Little Kirstine is she named.

Fetch the old, and fetch the youthful, Fetch the learned unto me; Fetch the lovely little Kirstine, Worthy all respect is she.

Canst thou read and write, my darling? Canst thou ease the pains I bear? Thou shalt ride upon my coursers, And the ruddy scarlet wear.

Could I read and write, my lady, Blythely I would do the same; Thy pains are than iron harder, Tis with grief I that proclaim.

Twas the lovely little Kirstine, Took the book and read a space Ah, thy pains than steel are harder, God Almighty help thy case!


There was a youthful swain one day Did ted the new mown grass; There came a gay and lovely may From out the nigh morass. Clad in a dress of silk was she, Green as the leaves which deck the tree, Her head so winsomely to see With bulrush plaited was.

That lass he wooed, his suit she heeds, And married are the pair; To bridal bed his wife he leads But what befell him there? He found, fear-stricken and amazd, That he a rough oak trunk embracd, Instead of the enchanting waist Of his mysterious fair.

Then straight abroad a voice he heard, Which sang the window through; These were the words the voice profferd If my report be true: Come out to her whom thou didst wed! Upon my mead thy couch is spread. From this he guessed with some elf maid That he had had to do.


O, would that with last and shoe I had stayd, Without wild desires; And, ah! no trust in Satan had laid, That prince of liars!

Each Saturday night, when slept the rest, Away I strolld To the forest, so murky and drear, in quest Of buried gold.

And then I beheld the hopping fire glow The briar behind; And down to the earth my wishing-rod low Itself declind.

I dug then, and gripped the chests ring amain, And held it stout; But the copper deceitful burst in twain, And the fiends laughed out.

Just, just as long was the treasure my own, As I trembled with fright; But soon as I held it secure, down, down It sank from sight.

Ye devilish pack, what grin ye at? I fell not your prey; Ill trust no more in old womens chat, And in cross-shaped way.

I go by my last and shoe to stay, Without wild desires; And neer more in Satan I trust will lay, That prince of liars!


The fisherman saddleth his good winged horse, To be on the deep seems to him his best course.

Against the white strand loud and hoarse the wave breaks, And towards the strand now the fisherman makes.

And up when the fisher his fishing-line drew, A fine golden fish on the hook met his view.

Then he laughed in his beard: Ive of fish seen a store, But neer one with golden cloth kirtle before.

If I a gold piece for each gold-scale possessd, With poverty I should no more be distrest.

With its tail the fish gan the bench furious to smite, And a strange dance it seemed to the fishermans sight.

Thou wealthy man, be not, I pray thee, so gay, A much quieter part a poor fisher should play.

The golden fish heard every word as it lay, Began straight to talk and discourse in this way:

Im full as rich, fisherman, as thou art poor, And soon for thee happiness I will procure.

Straight cast me again in the ocean my home, And a well-doing man thou, I swear, shalt become.

The Queen of the ocean my mother is, know, She linen and bolsters on thee shall bestow.

My father is King in the depths of the sea, And healthy and strong he shall cause thee to be.

My lover he sorrows for me in the brine, My golden cloth kirtle shall also be thine.

For the sovereign of fishes I care not a straw, On myself, if I did, I but laughter should draw.

For thy mothers fine cushions I care little more, My own Queen could make better ware any hour.

But if thou to a wooer thy troth didst allot, The repose of two lovers destroy I will not.

The trembling gold fish in the water placed he: From such wretched captures the Lord preserve me!

If to-morrow a like one upon my hook bite, I shall perish of hunger, poor miserable wight.

He the rest of the day sat at home by his hearth And spake not a word that repeating is worth.

He early next morn in his boat his seat took, And straightway adjusted a bait to his hook.

And soon as hed overboard cast the fish-line, The float it descended deep under the brine.

Then he laughed in his beard, and with bitterness said: A catch of another gold fish I have made!

The thin lengthy line he up-drew half unwilling, And, behold! there upon the hook hung a gold shilling.

And I can forsooth and for certainty say, That he for delight had no rest the whole day.

But as oft as the line he up-drew from the tide, Upon the hook never a fish he descried.

For wheneer for the fish he upon the hook sought, He found that a shilling of gold he had caught.


Abiding an appointment made, Upon the weed-grown steep I stayed, One morning mild when May was new, And fresh the down was fraught with dew. The meads were flowering, bright the woods, The branches yielding thousand buds. My lips employed in song the while On Morfydd of the merry smile. Twas then as round I cast my eye With mighty wish the maid to spy; Though, howsoeer my sight I strained, No glimpse of Morfydd I obtained. I heard the cuckoos voice arise, Singing the song which most I prize. To each Bard true most sweet I trow His music on the mountains brow. Therefore, as called by courtesy, I greeted him in poesy.

Good day, dear Cuckoo, with thy strain A herald thou from heavens domain; To us the tidings thou dost bear Of summer, blissful season fair. Of summer which to greenwood shade Entices forth the Bard and maid; Which decks with foliage dense the grove, And through all nature breathes of love. O, dear to me that note of thine, It seasons love like choicest wine; Whilst, doating fondness to chastise, What cutting taunt in Cuckoo lies! But, pretty bird, I pray declare Where lingereth now my lady fair?

O, poet, what delusion great Doth fill this year thy foolish pate? Tis harbouring a useless pain One thought of her to entertain. With all her store of winning charms, She weds her to anothers arms. Believe me, when I say to thee A mate of thine she may not be.

Hush, hush, Ill not believe thy voice, Dare not defame my bosoms choice. That nymph, the fairest neath the sun, Has sworn an oath, a solemn one; She vowed by her baptismal rite, Beneath the bough one blessed night, Her hand my own enclasping hard, To live and die with me, her Bard. The minister that mystic night Was Madog Benfras, matchless wight. Her suitors all may vainly sigh, How should she wed, whom wed have I? Tis false, O Bird, what thou dost state, And waste of time with thee to prate. Folly and drunkenness, tis plain, Have got possession of thy brain. Hence with thy news, and get thee cool, Thou art, I fear, a very fool!

O, Dafydd, who the fool but thou, Talking this guise beneath the bough? Another husband chooses she, Whose charms deceitful captured thee. The Damsel of the neck of snow Is now anothers wife, I trow. To love anothers looks not well, The Bow Bach owns the blooming belle.

For what thoust sung within the grove, With malice filled, about my love, May days of winter come with speed, The summer and the sun recede; Hoar frost upon the foliage fall, The wood and branches withering all. And thou with piercing cold be slain, Thou horrid bird of hateful strain!

* * * * *

LONDON: Printed for THOMAS J. WISE, Hampstead, N.W.

Edition limited to Thirty Copies.


{21} These stanzas should be compared with The Elves, printed in The Nightingale, The Valkyrie and Raven, and Other Ballads, 1913, pp. 25-26.


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