The Twa Brothers

No: 49; variant: 49F

  1. THERE were twa brothers in the east, Went to the school o Ayr; The one unto the other did say, Come let us wrestle here.
  2. They wrestled up and wrestled down, Till John fell to the ground; There being a knife in Willie’s pocket, Gae John his deadly wound.
  3. ‘O is it for my gold, brother? Or for my white monie? Or is it for my lands sae braid, That ye hae killed me?’
  4. ‘It is not for your gold,’ he said, ‘Nor for your white monie; It is by the hand o accident That I hae killed thee.’
  5. ‘Ye’ll take the shirt that’s on my back, Rive it frae gair to gair, And try to stop my bloody wounds, For they bleed wonderous sair.’
  6. He’s taen the shirt was on his back, Reave it frae gare to gare, And tried to stop his bleeding wounds, But still they bled the mair.
  7. ‘Ye’ll take me up upon your back, Carry me to yon water clear, And try to stop my bloody wounds, For they run wonderous sair.’
  8. He’s taen him up upon his back, Carried him to yon water clear, And tried to stop his bleeding wounds, But still they bled the mair.
  9. ‘Ye’ll take me up upon your back, Carry me to yon church-yard; Ye’ll dig a grave baith wide and deep, And then ye’ll lay me there.
  10. ‘Ye’ll put a head-stane at my head, Another at my feet, Likewise a sod on my breast-bane, The souner I may sleep.
  11. ‘Whenever my father asks of thee, Saying, What’s become of John? Ye’ll tell frae me, I’m ower the sea, For a cargo of good wine.
  12. ‘And when my sweetheart asks of thee, Saying, What’s become of John? Ye’ll tell frae me, I’m ower the sea, To buy a wedding gown.
  13. ‘And when my sister asks of thee, Saying, William, where is John? Ye’ll tell frae me, I’m ower the sea, To learn some merry sang.
  14. ‘And when my mother asks of thee, Saying, William, where is John? Tell her I’m buried in green Fordland, The grass growing ower my tomb.’
  15. He’s taen him up upon his back, Carried him to yon church-yard, And dug a grave baith wide and deep, And he was buried there.
  16. He laid a head-stane at his head, Another at his feet, And laid a green sod on his breast, The souner he might sleep.
  17. His father asked when he came hame, Saying, ‘William, where is John?’ Then John said, ‘He is ower the sea, To bring you hame some wine.’
  18. ‘What blood is this upon you, William, And looks sae red on thee?’ ‘It is the blood o my grey-hound, He woudna run for me.’
  19. ‘O that’s nae like your grey-hound’s blude, William, that I do see; I fear it is your own brother’s blood That looks sae red on thee.’
  20. ‘That is not my own brother’s blude, Father, that ye do see; It is the blood o my good grey steed, He woudna carry me.’
  21. ‘O that is nae your grey steed’s blude, William, that I do see; It is the blood o your brother John, That looks sae red on thee.’
  22. ‘It’s nae the blood o my brother John, Father, that ye do see; It is the blude o my good grey hawk, Because he woudna flee.’
  23. ‘O that is nae your grey hawk’s blood, William, that I do see:’ ‘Well, it’s the blude o my brother, This country I maun flee.’
  24. ‘O when will ye come back again, My dear son, tell to me?’ ‘When sun and moon gae three times round, And this will never be.’
  25. ‘Ohon, alas! now William, my son, This is bad news to me; Your brother’s death I’ll aye bewail, And the absence o thee.’