Popular Ballads of the Olden Time

The following is from Popular Ballads of the Olden Time: Third Series - Ballads of Scottish Tradition and Romance Selected and Edited by Frank Sidgwick:

The Outlyer Bold

The Text is taken from Motherwell's MS., which contains two versions; Motherwell printed a third in his Minstrelsy,--Babylon; or, The Bonnie Banks o' Fordie. Kinloch called the ballad the Duke of Perth's Three Daughters. As the following text has no title, I have ventured to give it one. 'Outlyer' is, of course, simply 'a banished man.'

The Story is much more familiar in all the branches of the Scandinavian race than in England or Scotland. In Denmark it appears as Herr Truels' Daughters or Herr Thor's Children; in Sweden as Herr Torės' Daughters. Iceland and Faroe give the name as Torkild or Thorkell.

The incidents related in this ballad took place (i) in Scotland on the bonnie banks o' Fordie, near Dunkeld; (ii) in Sweden in five or six different places; and (iii) in eight different localities in Denmark.

There were three sisters, they lived in a bower,
  Sing Anna, sing Margaret, sing Marjorie
The youngest o' them was the fairest flower.
  And the dew goes thro' the wood, gay ladie

The oldest of them she's to the wood gane,
To seek a braw leaf and to bring it hame.

There she met with an outlyer bold,
Lies many long nights in the woods so cold.

'Istow a maid, or istow a wife?                                               ['Istow,' art thou]
Wiltow twinn with thy maidenhead, or thy sweet life?'        ['twinn with,' part with]

'O kind sir, if I hae't at my will,
I'll twinn with my life, keep my maidenhead still.'

He's taen out his wee pen-knife,
He's twinned this young lady of her sweet life.

He wiped his knife along the dew;
But the more he wiped, the redder it grew.

The second of them she's to the wood gane,
To seek her old sister, and to bring her hame.

There she met with an outlyer bold,
Lies many long nights in the woods so cold.

'Istow a maid, or istow a wife?
Wiltow twinn with thy maidenhead, or thy sweet life?'

'O kind sir, if I hae't at my will,
I'll twinn with my life, keep my maidenhead still.'

He's taen out his wee pen-knife,
He's twinned this young lady of her sweet life.

He wiped his knife along the dew;
But the more he wiped, the redder it grew.

The youngest o' them she's to the wood gane,
To seek her two sisters, and to bring them hame.

There she met with an outlyer bold,
Lies many long nights in the woods so cold.

'Istow a maid, or istow a wife?
Wiltow twinn with thy maidenhead, or thy sweet life?'

'If my three brethren they were here,
Such questions as these thou durst nae speer.'            ['speer,' ask]

'Pray, what may thy three brethren be,
That I durst na mak' so bold with thee?'

'The eldest o' them is a minister bred,
He teaches the people from evil to good.

'The second o' them is a ploughman good,
He ploughs the land for his livelihood.

'The youngest of them is an outlyer bold,
Lies many a long night in the woods so cold.'

He stuck his knife then into the ground,
He took a long race, let himself fall on.

Mary Hamilton


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