THE WITCH OF THE WEST-MER-LANDS
G C / G C / G Am / C D7 /
Pale was the wounded knight
That bore the rowan shield
Loud and cruel were the raven's cries
That feasted on the field, saying:
Beck water, cold and clear,
Will never clean you wound.
There's none but the Maid of the Winding mere
Can make thee hale and soond.
So course well, my brindled hounds,
And fetch me the mountain hare
Whose coat is a grey as the Wastwater
Or as white as the lily fair, who said
Green moss and heather bands
Will never staunch the flood.
There's none but the Witch of the West-mer-lands
Can save thy dear life's blood.
So turn, turn you stallion's head
Till his red mane flies in the wind
And the rider of the moon gaes by
And the bright star falls behind.
And clear was the paley moon
When his shadow passed him by;
Below the hill was the brightest star
When he heard the houlet cry, saying
Why do you ride this way,
And wharfore cam' ye here?
I seek the Witch of the West-mer-lands
That dwells by the winding mere.
Then fly free your good grey hawk
To gather the golden rod,
And face your horse into the clouds
Above yon gay green wood.
And it's weary by Ullswater
And the misty brake fern way
Till through the cleft o' the Kirkstane Pass
The winding water lay.
He said, Lie down, my brindled hound,
And rest my good grey hawk,
And thee, my steed, may graze thy fill,
For I must dismount and walk.
But come when you hear my horn
And answer swift the call,
For I fear e'er the sun shall rise this morn
You will serve me best of all.
And down to the water's brim
He's borne the rowan shield,
And the golden rod he has cast in
To see what the lake might yield.
And wet rose she from the lake,
And fast and fleet gaed she,
One half the form of a maiden fair
With a jet black mare's body.
And loud, long, and shrill he blew
And his steed was by his side;
High overhead his grey hawk flew
And swiftly he did ride, saying:
Course well, my brindled hounds,
And fetch me the jet black mare.
Stoop and strike, my good grey hawk,
And bring me the maiden fair. She said:
Pray sheath thy silvery sword,
Lay down thy rowan shield,
For I see by the briny blood that flows
You've been wounded in the field.
And she stood in a gown of the velvet blue,
Bound 'round with a silver chain.
She's kissed his pale lips aince and twice
And three time 'round again.
And she's bound his wound with the golden rod;
Full fast in her arms he lay,
And he has risen hale and soond
Wi' the sun high in the day. She said:
Ride with you brindled hounds at heel
And your good grey hawk in hand.
There's nane can harm a knight wha's lain
With the Witch of the West-mer-land.
Archie Fisher borrowed, for this song, the form of the narrative
ballad. The ingredients are a mixture of legend, superstition,
and ballad themes brought into focus by the work of the lakeland
painter, Joni Turner. As far as I know, the female centaur is
not a creature of mythology, and this role of witch disguise was
suggested by the tales of antlered women with bodies of deer seen
wading in the shallows of the lakes in the moonlight. There are
many pleasant and hospitable inns in the Lake District.
Sung by Archie Fisher on FSI-
Copyright 1976, Ard-Ri Music, Dublin.
Also sung by Ray Fisher (his sister) on FSI-
@ballad @myth @health @animal
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