The Battle of Otterburn

No: 161; variant: 161B

  1. IT fell and about the Lammas time, When husbandmen do win their hay, Earl Douglass is to the English woods, And a’ with him to fetch a prey.
  2. He has chosen the Lindsays light, With them the gallant Gordons gay, And the Earl of Fyfe, withouten strife, And Sir Hugh Montgomery upon a grey.
  3. They have taken Northumberland, And sae hae they the north shire, And the Otter Dale, they hae burnt it hale, And set it a’ into fire.
  4. Out then spake a bonny boy, That servd ane o Earl Douglass kin; Methinks I see an English host, A-coming branken us upon.
  5. ‘If this be true, my little boy, And it be troth that thou tells me, The brawest bower in Otterburn This day shall be thy morning-fee.
  6. ‘But if it be fase, my little boy, But and a lie that thou tells me, On the highest tree that’s in Otterburn With my ain hands I’ll hing thee high.’
  7. The boy’s taen out his little penknife, That hanget low down by his gare, And he gaed Earl Douglass a deadly wound, Alack! a deep wound and a sare.
  8. Earl Douglas said to Sir Hugh Montgomery, Take thou the vanguard o the three, And bury me at yon braken-bush, That stands upon yon lilly lee.
  9. Then Percy and Montgomery met, And weel a wot they warna fain; They swaped swords, and they twa swat, And ay the blood ran down between.
  10. ‘O yield thee, yield thee, Percy,’ he said, ‘Or else I vow I’ll lay thee low;’ ‘Whom to shall I yield,’ said Earl Percy, ‘Now I see it maun be so?’
  11. ‘O yield thee to yon braken-bush, That grows upon yon lilly lee; . . . . . . . .
  12. ‘I winna yield to a braken-bush, Nor yet will I unto a brier; But I would yield to Earl Douglass, Or Sir Hugh Montgomery, if he was here.’
  13. As soon as he knew it was Montgomery, He stuck his sword’s point in the ground, And Sir Hugh Montgomery was a courteous knight, And he quickly broght him by the hand.
  14. This deed was done at Otterburn, About the breaking of the day; Earl Douglass was buried at the braken-bush, And Percy led captive away.