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Dowie Dens of Yarrow

DigiTrad:
DOWIE DENS OF YARROW
THE DOWIE DENS o' YARROW


Related threads:
Lyr Req: The Dreary Dream (John Jacob Niles) (8)
(origins) Origins: The Dewy Dens of Yarrow (44)
Lyr Req: The Heathery Hills of Yarrow (Child #214) (8)
two verses in Dowie Dens O Yarrow (Janet Russell) (21)
Lyr Req: Green Banks of Yarrow (#214 - Davenport) (3)
Lyr Req: Dowie Dens of Yarrow parody (3)
Lyr Req: Dowie Dens o' Yarrow (Davey Stewart) (7)
Downie Dens of Yarrow (6)
The Braes of Yarrow (5)


poetlady 17 Oct 02 - 12:47 AM
GUEST,Boab 17 Oct 02 - 04:20 AM
DMcG 17 Oct 02 - 04:35 AM
IanC 17 Oct 02 - 05:59 AM
DMcG 17 Oct 02 - 06:17 AM
IanC 17 Oct 02 - 06:52 AM
Big Tim 17 Oct 02 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Oct 02 - 10:53 PM
GUEST,Richie 17 Oct 02 - 11:23 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 17 Oct 02 - 11:59 PM
poetlady 20 Oct 02 - 01:51 AM
sharyn 20 Oct 02 - 02:05 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 May 14 - 01:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 May 14 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 May 14 - 04:17 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 May 14 - 04:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 May 14 - 06:58 PM
BobKnight 28 May 14 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 14 - 10:10 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 May 14 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,gutcher 29 May 14 - 04:44 PM
Steve Gardham 29 May 14 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,threelegsoman 30 May 14 - 03:10 AM
Gutcher 30 May 14 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 30 May 14 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Q posting as guest 30 May 14 - 12:32 PM
Jim Carroll 30 May 14 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Guest (crashed Q) 30 May 14 - 02:47 PM
GUEST 30 May 14 - 02:49 PM
Jim Carroll 30 May 14 - 03:12 PM
Gutcher 30 May 14 - 04:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 May 14 - 01:30 PM
Gutcher 01 Jun 14 - 01:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 14 - 03:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 14 - 07:10 PM
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Subject: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: poetlady
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 12:47 AM

Jean Redpath's version ends with:

Oh faither dear ye've seven sons
Ye may wed them all tomorrow
For the fairest flower amang them all
Was the lad that I lo'ed on Yarrow

This confused me. (It didn't confuse me until yesterday, when I was singing it to myself and subsequently became confused.) Her ploughman can't be one of her father's seven sons. Not only would that be quite improper, but there is an obvious difference in rank. "The lad I loved on Yarrow," however, seems to me to refer to her ploughman. Does anyone know what she's talking about?


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 04:20 AM

Just acquired a Heather Heywood album [good stuff!} and her singing of the song has the last line refer to "the Plooman lad", I believe. Maybe that still leaves some ambiguity---och!--ne'er heed; it's a grand Border Ballad.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 04:35 AM

We have a version of this at www.folkinfo.org with some notes by Malcolm Douglas that you might find helpful.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: IanC
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 05:59 AM

To paraphrase:

Dad, you've got 7 sons and, since they're all alive, you can marry them to whoever you want - tomorrow if you like. There's only one bloke I could have got married to, he's much prettier than any of my brothers, and he's just expired.

;-)


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 06:17 AM

IanC, you have a real grasp for the poetry of the thing!

:-)

Perhaps you need to start a new competion: identify ballads from the precis


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: IanC
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 06:52 AM

DMcG

Compliments!!! ... now there's a good idea for a quiz

:-)


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Big Tim
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 12:13 PM

It's one of those songs that I'd always loved for atmosphere, dialect, timelesness, etc but never thought much about the actual meaning of the lyrics. First heard it on Gordeanna McCulloch's album c. 1965 or 6. Thanks for the memory!


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 10:53 PM

As time passes, people keep adding verses to ballads, and the verses tend to get weaker and weaker. This sounds like one of that kind.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 11:23 PM

I actually wrote a book about this entitled "The Braes O'Yarrow". It is a fictional book that uses the lyrics as a basis for the tragic story.

I have also recorded an Appalachian version (solo guitar) for Mel Bay Pub.

It would make a great movie and film score. I'm so busy I've never tried to publish it.

In the version I remember the plowboy kills all the brothers except for one, who is hiding behind a bush and jumps out and stabs the plowboy in the back, killing him.

It's really one of the great tragedies.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 17 Oct 02 - 11:59 PM

Context is important here. Her father has just told her that she needn't cry, because he will be able to wed her to a 'better' man... This explains to me what she was referring to... In a sense, she seems to be saying, "If you've got to be marrying somebody..., DAD!,... get one of your seven sons (or all of them if you like) and marry them off tomorrow... I'm still in love with the lad I loved on the dowie dens o yarrow... and just leave me alone right now. ttr


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: poetlady
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 01:51 AM

Thank you all very much for explaining this for me. It was very helpful, and I appreciate it.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: sharyn
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 02:05 AM

That's right. Our heroine is standing there weeping and Dad says

O dochter, dochter dinna grieve
Or break your heart wi' sorrow
I'll wad ye on a better man
Than the one you lost in Yarrow

She corrects him, of course, saying,

There never was a better man
Than the one I lost in Yarrow

And, in the version I sing, she goes on to recap the start of the fight, a land-and-cattle war:

Tak a' your ousen, tak a' your kae
For they hae bred our sorrow
I wist they had all gone mad
When first we came to Yarrow.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 May 14 - 01:57 PM

Lyr. Add: THE DOWIE DENS O' YARROW
Henry Scott Riddle

Oh, sister, there are midnight dreams
That pass not with the morning,
Then ask not why my reason swims
In a brain sae wildly burning;
And ask not why I fancy how
Yon wee birds sing wi' sorrow,
For bluid lies mingled with the dew
In the dowie dens o' Yarrow.

My dream's wild light was not o' night,
Nor o' the doolfu' morning,
Thrice on the stream was seen the gleam
That seemed his sprite returning;
For sword-girt men came down the glen,
An hour before the morrow,
And pierced the heart aye true to mine,
In the dowie dens o' Yarrow.

Oh! there are red, red drops of dew
Upon the wild flower's blossom,
But they couldna cool my burning brow,
And shall not stain my bosom;
But from the clouds o' yon dark sky
A cold, cold shroud I'll borrow,
And long and deep shall be my sleep
In the dowie dens o' Yarrow.

This from the bluid-died flower shall press
By the heart o' him that lo'ed me;
And I'll steal frae his lips a long, long kiss,
In the bower where oft he wooed me;
For my arm shall fold and my tresses shield
The form o' my death-cold marrow,
When the breeze shall bring the raven's wing
O'er the dowie dens o' Yarrow.

A version has been collected in Oklahoma from transplanted Scots, according to Ben Schwartz; collected by E. and C. O. Moore, 1964, Ballads and Folk Songs of the Southwest, University of Oklahoma Press and University collections.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 May 14 - 02:06 PM

The above verses by Riddle from:
R. Borland, 1890, YARROW: It's Poets and Poetry. Thomas Fraser, Dalbeattie. Online as an ebook.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 May 14 - 04:17 PM

When I come across a weak verse like that in the OP, I change it.


"Oh faither dear ye've seven sons
Ye may wed them all tomorrow
For the fairest flower amang them all
Was the lad that I lo'ed on Yarrow."

my version:

Oh father dear ye've seven sons;
Ye may wed them all tomorrow.
BUT the fairest flower among them all
Was the lad that I LOST on Yarrow.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 May 14 - 04:38 PM

This was famously sung by Davie Stewart. Hear it over at the Alan Lomax archive HERE.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 May 14 - 06:58 PM

Leeneia, in the words of Sir Walter Scott:

"Now haud your tongue, my daughter dear
For a' this breeds but sorrow;
I'll wed ye to a better lord,
Than him ye lost on Yarrow."-

"O haud your tongue, my father dear:
Ye mind me but of sorrow;
A fairer rose did never bloom
Than now lies cropp'd on Yarrow."

The verse you think weak (and it is) was from Jean Redpath, according to the note in the DT Lyrics. There are many folk versions of this composed song.

No version can match "The Dowie Dens of Yarrow," as written by Sir walter Scott in his Border Minstrelsy.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: BobKnight
Date: 28 May 14 - 08:35 PM

Leeneia. If you remove "that" from the last line it will scan better. It's one of those words that people stick in all the time when they are writing songs, and nine times out of ten it can be dispensed with.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 14 - 10:10 AM

But Bob, the 'that' fits nicely into the tune that I happen to know for this song. Of course it might be dispensed with if a singer sings a different tune.

Q, you are right. Scott's verses make it clear what each speaker has in mind.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 May 14 - 12:03 PM

Two songs are often confused and mixed in later folk versions; The Dowie Dens of Yarrow" and "The Douglas Tragedy."

Verses about the "seven sons" are taken from "The Douglas Tragedy."

Clean versions of both are in the DT, along with the mixed version; Jean Redpath, "The Dowie Dens of Yarrow;" - and the verse that leeneia sings (see above).


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,gutcher
Date: 29 May 14 - 04:44 PM

Q.
On what authority do you base your assertion that the Dowie Dens O Yarrow was composed by Sir Walter Scott?


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 May 14 - 05:04 PM

Hi Gutcher,
Mike didn't say Scott composed it. But most scholars are probably right in thinking that he altered it considerably like he did most things.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,threelegsoman
Date: 30 May 14 - 03:10 AM

This is the version I have uploaded to YouTube, based largely on The Corries:

Dowie Dens of Yarrow

There lived a lady in the North
You could scarcely find her marrow
She was courted by nine noble lords
And a plooman lad fae Yarrow

They nine sat drinking at the wine
Sat drinking wine in Yarrow
And they've made a vow among themselves
For tae fecht for her on Yarrow

She's washed his face, she's combed his hair
As oft she'd done afore oh
She's made him like a noble lord
For tae fecht for her on Yarrow

As he gaed doon the high, high hill
Doon tae the howe o' Yarrow
'Twas there he spied nine armed men
Come tae fecht wi' him on Yarrow

There's three he slew and three withdrew
And three he wounded sairly oh
Till her brother John came in fae behind
And has wounded him most foully

"Oh, faither dear, I dreamed a dream
I doubt it will bring sorrow
I dreamed I pulled the heather green
On the dowie dens o' Yarrow"

So she gaed doon the high, high hill
Doon tae the howe o' Yarrow
And there she's found her lover John
Lying pale and wan on Yarrow

Her hair it was three quarters long
The colour it was yellow
She's wrapped it round his middle sae small
And she's bore him up frae Yarrow

"Oh faither dear, ye've seven sons
Ye may wed them all tomorrow
For the fairest floo'r amang them a'
Was the lad that I lo'ed on Yarrow

The Dowie Dens of Yarrow


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Gutcher
Date: 30 May 14 - 05:33 AM

Sorry all--this uneducated backwoodsman equated written as synonymous with composed.
Scott states--"this ballad, which is a very great favourite among the inhabitants of Etrick Forest, is universally believed to be founded in fact. I found it easy to collect a variety of copies; but very difficult indeed to select from them such a collated edition as might, in any degree, suit the taste of " these more light and giddy-paced times".
It has always been my view that the "plowboy" was intruded into the ballad at the end of the 19th C. with the advent of the bothy ballads.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 30 May 14 - 09:15 AM

It looks quite different from the Corries version especially at the beginning. The first verse in particular would seem a bit strange, maybe not for a Scot in general, but certainly for a Borderer to sing. Yarrow is about as far south as you can get in Scotland and we always refer to this area as the south.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OjJZguuUak


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,Q posting as guest
Date: 30 May 14 - 12:32 PM

Hi, Gutcher.
Sorry I was not too clear in my post; 'written' can be misinterpreted; Sir Walter did not originate the song, but his revised version is perhaps the best (my personal opinion).

The Corries version is good, uncontaminated by 'The Douglas Affair."

My computer crashed; later I will post a couple of versions found in North America.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 May 14 - 01:42 PM

Irish version
Jim Carroll

THE DEWY GLENS OF YARROW

1   There was a lady from the North,
I ne'er could find her marrow;
She was courted by nine noblemen
And her ploughboy John from Yarrow.

2 These noblemen sat drinking wine,
The wine they sat a drinking
And each of them did make a vow
To fight for her on Yarrow.

3   Her father had but one ploughboy,
It was said she loved him dearly;
She dressed him up in nobleman's clothes
To fight for her on Yarrow.

4   There were three he slew and three he drew
And three lay sorely wounded,
When her false young brother from behind a tree
Slew him with an arrow.

5   'Go home, go home, you false young man,
And tell your sister Sarah
That her ploughboy John lies dead and gone
On the dewy glens of Yarrow.'

6   Her hair it hung three quarters long
And the colour of it was yellow;
She tied it round his waist so small
And carried him home from Yarrow,

7   'Oh father dear, dig me a grave
And dig it long and narrow;
My true love died for me today,
I'll die for him tomorrow.'

8   'Oh daughter dear, dry up your tears
And think no more on Yarrow
For I'll wed thee to a higher degree
Than your ploughboy John from Yarrow.

9   'Oh father, you have seven sons,
You may wed them all tomorrow,
But the sweetest flower that ever grew
Lies dead for me on Yarrow.'

Mrs Brigid Murphy (b. 1913), housewife, Forkhill, Co. Armagh, in the Forester's Hall, Forkhill, on 1 Oct. 1983 during a 'sing-around'. Rec. TM. Child no 214


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST,Guest (crashed Q)
Date: 30 May 14 - 02:47 PM

Jim, the last verse is an add-on from The Douglas Tragedy.

Here is one from Flanders, Vermont; Irish? origin.

Lyr. Add: THE DEWY DENS OF DARROW

Now a father had a young ploughboy,
Whom this lady loved most dearly;
She dressed him as a gallant knight
To fight for her on Darrow
2
Then he went up this high, high hill,
And on the lane so narrow,
And there he saw nine noble knights
On the Dewy Dens of Darrow.
3
"Oh, it's will you try the hunting hound?
Or will you try the arrow?
Or will you try the single sword
On the Dewy Dens of Darrow?"
4
"No, I won't try the hunting hound,
Nor will I try the arrow,
Hut I will try the single sword
On the Dewy dens of Darrow."
5
His sword he drew, three knights he slew
And was fighting with the other,
When her brother sprang from behind a tree,
And they shot him with their arrow.
6
And she went up this high, high hill
And on the lane so narrow,
And there she saw her noble knight
On the Dewy Dens of Darrow.
7
Her hair was about three-quarters long,
And the color being yellow,
She tied it around his waist so strong,
And she carried him home to Darrow.
8
"O daughter, dear, dry up those tears,
And give no more to sorrow,
For tomorrow you'll wed with a handsomer knight
Than the one you lost on Darrow."
9
"O father, dear, you have nine sons,
And you may wed them all tomorrow;
But you'll never find a handsomer knight,
Than the one I lost on Darrow."

Printed in "Ballads Migrant in New England," 235; pp. 255-259, with musical score,
Helen H. Flanders, "Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England," vol. 3, Ballad 215; Univ. Pennsylvania Press.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 14 - 02:49 PM

Oops! forgot to close bracket.
Got it. -Mod


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 May 14 - 03:12 PM

"Jim, the last verse is an add-on from The Douglas Tragedy."
Hi Q
I'm afraid that, having spent a fair amount of time examining the song tradition in relation to our having carried out 40 years of field work among various communities, a few of them still alive and creating songs, I still find myself an extreme agnostic in the matter of song origins, particularly in attempting to attribute them to literary sources.
The way Mrs Murphy sang it is very much in the Ulster Scots tradition - I remain unconvinced that the verse can be attributed to one or other of the ballads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Gutcher
Date: 30 May 14 - 04:45 PM

There were five sons and two were twins
There were five sons in Yarrow
And they did fecht for their ain true love
In the dowie dens o Yarrow.

O mither dear I hae dreamed a dream
A dream o dule and sorrow
For I dreamp't I was puin heather bells
In the dowie dens o Yarrow.

O dochter dear I reid yer dream
Yer dream o dule and sorrow
For your true love Jhone lies pale an wan
In the dowie dens o Yarrow.

She's sought him up an she's sought him doon
She's sought him braid and narrow
And it's there in a lirk by yon water side
She has found him slain in Yarrow.

Noo her hair it was baith lythe and lang
And the colour o it was yallow
She's roud it roon his middle sma
And she's bourn him hame frae Yarrow

She's washed his face and she's kaimed his hair
as aft she'd done afore o
And she's rowed him in his winding sheet
While the tears ran doon for sorrow

And sine she's heid her ouwr the lee
Out ouwr the lee tae Yarrow
And in the deepest poat in yon boskie den
She has drooned hersel in Yarrow.


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 May 14 - 01:30 PM

Child included a variety of texts of 214 under the title "214 The Braes O Yarrow."
His text A (communicated to Percy by Dr William Robertson, Principal of Edinburgh) is worth posting.

Lyr. Add: THE BRAES O YARROW, Child A

1
I dreamed a dreary dream this night,
That fills my heart wi sorrow;
I dreamed I was pouing the heather green
Upon the braes of Yarrow.
2
'O true-luve mine, stay still and dine,
As ye has done before, O,'
'O I'll be hame by hours nine,
And frae the braes of Yarrow.'
3
I dreamed a dreary dream this night,
That fills my heart wi sorrow;
I dreamed my luve came headless hame,
O frae the braes of Yarrow.
4
'O true-luve mine, stay still and dine,
As ye ha done before, O;'
O I'll be hame by hour nine,
And frae the braes of Yarrow.'
5
"O are you going to hawke,' she says,
As ye ha done before, O?,
Or are ye going to weild your brand
Upon the braes of Yarrow?'
6
'O I am not going to hawke', he says
'As I have done before, O,
But for to meet your brother Jhon,
Upon the braes of Yarrow.'
7
As he gade down yon dewy den,
Sorrow went him before, O,
Nine well-wight men lay waiting him,
Upon the braes of Yarrow.
8
'I have your sister to my wife,
Ye' think me an unmeet marrow;
But yet one foot will I never flee
Now frae the braes of Yarrow.'
9
Than' four he killed and five did wound,
That was an unmeet marrow!
And he had weel nigh wan the day
Upon the braes of Yarrow.'
10
Bot' a cowardly 'loon' came him behind,
Our Lady lend him sorrow!
And wi a rappier pierced his heart,
Upon the braes of Yarrow.
11
'Now Douglas' to his sister gane,
Wi meikle dule and sorrow;
'Gae to your love, sister,' he says,
Upon the braes of Yarrow.'
12
As she went down yon dowy den,
Sorrow went her before, O;
She saw her true-love lying slain
Upon the braes of Yarrow.
13
She swoond thrice upon his breast
That was her dearest marrow;
Said, 'Ever alace and wae the day
Thou wentst frae me to Yarrow!'
14
She kist his mouth, she kaimed his hair,
As she had done before, O;
She 'wiped' the blood that trickled doun
Upon the braes of Yarrow.
15
Her hair it was three quarters lang,
It hang baith side and yellow;
She tied it round 'her' white hause-bane,
'And tint her life on Yarrow.'


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Gutcher
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 01:14 PM

In two of the versions given in this thread the lady commits suicide.
Do any of the other versions end in this manner?


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 03:45 PM

Child gives versions A to S, and there are a lot more. There are several that suggest suicide, including drowning (in most, she just dies).
In one- And wi' a crack her head did brack, upon the braes of Yarrow.
Several have her big with child and she dies in her father's arms.

The lady being six months with child
To the ploughman lad of Yarrow
She fell into her father's arms
And died wi grief on Yarrow.
Milne


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Subject: RE: Dowie Dens of Yarrow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 07:10 PM

On the brighter side, there are versions in which she refuses her father's suggestions, but no mention that she died.


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