Child 15/16 Comment

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Child 15/16 Leesome Brand/Sheath and Knife

This untitled ballad clearly demonstrates that both Child 15 ‘Leesome Brand’ and Child 16 ‘Sheath and Knife’ are indeed the same ballad. Buchan’s grotesque expansion, followed by Motherwell, 15A, can be discounted as spurious. (Expanded references required).

Steve Gardham

Helena Mennie Shire, ed., Poems from Panmure House (Cambridge 1960), pp 13-19 as written into his Music Commonplace Book by Robert Edwards in Fife about 1630.

Translated into English by SG

1) There was a sister and a brother,

The sun goes to under the wood

Who most entirely loved each other

God grant we had never been siblings.

2) He said, ‘Sister, I would lay thee by,

If you would not disclose my deeds.’

3) ‘Alas, brother, if you do,

I would rather now die.’

4) ‘Tomorrow it is my father’s feast,

Well in my clothes I must be laced.

5) 0' When they meet together all at once,

To royal feasting in the hall,

I must join them,

Decked out in a gown of pall.

6) And when I bend down to my toe

My lace will break in two.

7) And when I bend down to my knee

My lace will break into three.

8) The news will go from one to one

Until it comes to brother John

9) Because he has a temper ill

He’ll burn us both upon a hill.

10) I’ll go to my father’s stable

And take a steed both strong and able

11) And we shall ride till time we spend

Until we see our loving end.’

12) She had not ridden a mile but one

When she started shaking and groaning

13) ‘Is there water in your shoes

Or is the wind inside your gloves?

14) Or do you think me too simple a knight

To ride or go with you all night?’

15) ‘And when you hear me loud to cry

Bend your breast and run nearby.

16) And when you see me lie full still

Sound your horn and come to me.

17) I would give all my father’s land

For one woman at my command.’

18) When he quickly came her beside ..............................

19) Then he has taken his young son

And carried him to a wet nurse.

20) He drew his sword and wounded himself sore

From this time he never rode more.

21) ‘Mother,’ he said, ‘go make my bed,

Make it long but not too broad.

22) Mother, alas, I’ve lost my knife

I loved better than my life.

23) Mother, I’ve also lost my sheath

I loved better than them both.

24) There is no cutler in this land

Can make such a knife at my command.’

25) He turned his face to the wall

Gave up the ghost and went his way.

26) The one was laid in Mary’s Kirk

The other in Mary’s Quire.

From out of his (grave) there grew a birch

And out from hers a briar

That you may know surely by these signs

There were two lovers near.

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