The Broom of Cowdenknows

No: 217; variant: 217M

  1. ‘TWAS on a misty day, a fair maiden gay Went out to the Cowdenknowes; Lang, lang she thought ere her ewes woud bught, Wi her pail for to milk the ewes. O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom o the Cowdenknowes! And aye sae sweet as the lassie sang, In the ewe-bught, milking her ewes.
  2. And aye as she sang the greenwoods rang, Her voice was sae loud and shrill; They heard the voice of this well-far’d maid At the other side o the hill.
  3. ‘My mother she is an ill woman, And an ill woman is she; Or than she might have got some other maid To milk her ewes without me.
  4. ‘My father was ance a landed laird, As mony mair have been; But he held on the gambling trade Till a ‘s free lands were dune.
  5. ‘My father drank the brandy and beer, My mother the wine sae red; Gars me, poor girl, gang maiden lang, For the lack o tocher guid.’
  6. There was a troop o merry gentlemen Came riding alang the way, And one o them drew the ewe-bughts unto, At the voice of this lovely may.
  7. ‘O well may you sing, my well-far’d maid, And well may you sing, I say, For this is a mirk and a misty night, And I’ve ridden out o my way.’
  8. ‘Ride on, ride on, young man,’ she said, ‘Ride on the way ye ken; But keep frae the streams o the Rock-river, For they run proud and vain.
  9. ‘Ye winna want boys for meat, kind sir, And ye winna want men for fee; It sets not us that are young women To show young men the way.’
  10. ‘O winna ye pity me, fair maid? O winna ye pity me? O winna ye pity my poor steed, Stnads trembling at yon tree?’
  11. ‘Ride on, ride on, ye rank rider, Your steed’s baith stout and strang; For out o the ewe-bught I winna come, For fear that ye do me wrang.
  12. ‘For well ken I by your high-colld hat, And by your gay gowd ring, That ye are the Earl o Rock-rivers, That beguiles a’ our young women.’
  13. ‘O I’m not the earl o the Rock-rivers, Nor ever thinks to be; But I am ane o his finest knights, Rides aft in his companie.
  14. ‘I know you well by your lamar beads, And by your merry winking ee, That ye are the maid o the Cowdenknowes, And may very well seem to be.’
  15. He’s taen her by the milk-white hand, And by the grass-green sleeve, He’s laid her down by the ewe-bught-wa, At her he spiered nae leave.
  16. When he had had got his wills o her, And his wills he had taen, He lifted her up by the middle sae sma, Says, Fair maid, rise up again.
  17. Then he has taen out a siller kaim, Kaimd down her yellow hair; Says, Fair maid, take that, keep it for my sake, Case frae me ye never get mair.
  18. Then he put his hand in his pocket, And gien her guineas three; Says, Take that, fair maiden, till I return, ‘Twill pay the nurse’s fee.
  19. Then he lap on his milk-white steed, And he rade after his men, And a’ that they did say to him, ‘Dear master, ye’ ve tarried lang.’
  20. ‘I’ve ridden east, I’ve ridden west, And over the cowdenknowes, But the bonniest lass that eer I did see, Was i the ewe-bught, milking her ewes.’
  21. She’s taen her milk-pail on her head, And she gaed singing hame; But a’ that her auld father did say, ‘Daughter, ye’ve tarried lang.’ ‘O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom o the Cowdenknowes! Aye sae sair ‘s I may rue the day, In the ewe-bughts, milking my ewes.
  22. ‘O this is a mirk and a misty night, O father, as ye may see; The ewes they ran skipping over the knowes, And they woudna bught in for me.
  23. . . . . . . . . ‘Before that he’d taen the lamb that he took, I rather he’d taen other three.’
  24. When twenty weeks were come and gane, And twenty weeks and three, The lassie’s colour grew pale and wan, And she longed this knight to see.
  25. Says, ‘Wae to the fox came amo our flock! I wish he had taen them a’ Before that he’d taen frae me what he took; It’s occasiond my downfa.’
  26. It fell ance upon a time She was ca’ing hame her kye, There came a troop o merry gentlemen, And they wyled the bonny lassie by.
  27. But one o them spake as he rode past, Says, Who owes the bairn ye are wi? A little she spake, but thought wi hersell, ‘Perhaps to ane as gude as thee.’
  28. O then she did blush as he did pass by, And dear! but she thought shame, And all that she did say to him, ‘Sir, I have a husband at hame.’
  29. ‘Ye lie, ye lie, ye well-far’d maid, Sae loud as I hear you lie! For dinna ye mind yon misty night, Ye were in the bught wi me? ‘O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom o the Cowdenknowes! Aye sae sweet as I heard you sing, In the ewe-bughts, milking your ewes.’
  30. ‘O well do I mind, kind sir,’ she said, ‘As ye rode over the hill; Ye took frae me my maidenhead, Fell sair against my will. ‘O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom o the Cowdenknowes! And aye sae sair as I rue the day I met you, milking my ewes.
  31. ‘And aye as ye spake, ye lifted your hat, Ye had a merry winking ee; I ken you well to be the man, Then kind sir, O pity me!’
  32. ‘Win up, win up, fair maiden,’ he said, ‘Nae langer here ye’ll stay; This night ye’se be my wedded wife, Without any more delay.’
  33. He lighted aff his milk-white steed And set the lassie on; ‘Ca in your kye, auld man,’ he did say, ‘She’ll never ca them in again.
  34. ‘I am the Earl o the Rock-rivers, Hae fifty ploughs and three, And am sure I’ve chosen the fairest maid That ever my eyes did see.’
  35. Then he stript her o the robes o grey, Donned her in the robes o green, And when she came to her lord’s ha They took her to be some queen. O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom, The broom o the Cowdenknowes! And aye sae sweet as the bonny lassie sang, That ever she milked the ewes.