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Also known as “The Dowie Dens of Yarrow,” (Child #214) works from the template of a version by William Welsh, Peeblesshire cotter and poet. A powerful message delivered by a woman whose voice rings across the centuries.

lyrics

At Dryhope lived a lady fair,
The fairest flower in Yarrow,
And she refused nine noble men
For a servant lad in Gala.

Her father said that he should fight
The nine lords all to-morrow,
And he that should the victor be,
Would win the Rose o Yarrow.

She kissed his lips, and combed his hair,
As oft she’d done before, O,
An set him on her milk-white steed,
To fight for her in Yarrow.

When he got oer yon high, high hill,
And down the flat so narrow
It was there he saw nine armed men,
In the gloomy dens Yarrow

“There’s nine of you and one of me,
Which makes the chances narrow,
But I will fight you man for man,
To win the Rose of Yarrow.

There he flew and there he slew,
And there he wounded sore O,
When her brother sprang from a bush behind,
And ran his body through.

They took the young man by the heels,
And trailed him like a harrow,
And then they threw his body in
To a whirlpool of Yarrow.

The lady said, “I dreamed a dream
That fills my heart with sorrow,
I dreamed I was pullin’ the heather green,
In the gloomy dens of Yarrow.”

Her brother said, “I’ll read your dream
And take it not in sorrow;
Go to your true love if ye please,
For he’s sleepin’ sound in Yarrow.”

She sought him east, she sought him west,
She searched the forest thorough,
Until she spied her own true love,
Lying deeply drowned in Yarrow.

His hair was full five quarters long,
Its colour was of yellow;
She twined it round her lily hand,
And drew him out of Yarrow.

She kissed his lips, and combed his head,
As oft she’d done before, O;
She laid him oer her milk-white steed,
And bore him home from Yarrow.

“I meant to make my bed full wide,
But you may make it narrow;
For now I’ve none to be my guide,
But a dead man drowned in Yarrow.”

“Go hold your tongue,” her father said,
“And take it not in sorrow;
’ll wed ye to a better match
Than a servant lad in Gala.”

“Hold your own tongue, my father dear,
And breed me no more sorrow;
A better lord was never born,
Than the lad I lost in Yarrow.

‘Take home your oxen, take home your cows,
For they have bred our sorrow;
I wish that they had all gone mad,
When they came first to Yarrow.’

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tags: folk Chicago

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Andrew Calhoun Chicago, Illinois

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