Beginners
Experts
Burns Supper
Top Features
Discussion Forum
Newsletter
Poems & Songs
The Letters
Federation
E- Membership
Schools
Contributions
Links
Search the Site
Scottish History
The Burns Shop

Translation
Index


The Five Carlins
TUNE: Chevy Chase

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation



The Five Carlins
1.
There was five carlins in the South:
They fell upon a scheme
To send a lad to London Town
To bring them tidings hame:
2.
Nor only bring them tidings hame,
But do their errands there:
And aiblins gowd and honor baith
Might be that laddie's share.
3.
There was Maggie by the banks o' Nith,
A dame wi' pride eneugh;
And Marjorie o' the Monie Lochs,
A carlin auld and teugh;
4.
And Blinkin Bess of Annandale,
That dwelt near Solway-side;
And Brandy Jean, that took her gill
In Galloway sae wide;
5.
And Black Joan, frae Crichton Peel,
O' gipsy kith an' kin:
Five wighter carlins were na found
The South countrie within.
6.
To send a lad to London Town
They met upon a day;
And monie a knight and monie a laird
This errand fain wad gae.
7.
O, monie a knight and monie a laird
This errand fain wad gae.
But nae ane could their fancy please,
O, ne'er a ane but tway!
8.
The first ane was a belted Knight,
Bred of a border band;
And he wad gae to London Town,
Might nae man him withstand;
9.
And he wad do their errands weel,
And meikle he wad say;
And ilka ane at London court
Wad bid to him guid-day.
10.
The neist cam in, a Soger boy,
And spak wi' modest grace;
And he wad gae to London Town,
If sae their pleasure was.
11.
He wad na hecht them courtly gifts,
Nor meikle speech pretend;
But he wad hecht an honest heart
Wad ne'er desert his friend.
12.
Now wham to chuse and wham to refuse
At strife thae carlins fell;
For some had gentle folk to please,
And some wad please themsel.
13.
Then out spak mim-mou'd Meg o' Nith,
And she spak up wi' pride,
And she wad send the Soger lad,
Whatever might betide.
14.
For the auld Guidman o' London court
She didna care a pin;
But she wad send the Soger lad
To greet his eldest son.
15.
Then up sprang Bess o' Annandale,
And swore a deadly aith,
Says:- 'I will send the belted Knight,
Spite of you carlins baith!'
16.
' For far-aff fowls hae feathers fair,
And fools o' change are fain;
But I hae tried this Border Knight:
I'll try him yet again.'
17.
Then Brandy Jean spak owre her drink:-
' Ye weel ken, kimmers a',
The auld Guidman o' London court,
His back's been at the wa';
18.
' And monie a friend that kiss'd his caup
Is now a fremit wight;
But it's ne'er be sae wi' Brandy Jean -
I'll send the Border Knight.'
19.
Says Black Joan frae Crichton Peel,
A carlin stoor and grim:-
' The auld Guidman or the young Guidman
For me may sink or swim!
20.
' For fools will prate o' right or wrang,
While knaves laugh in their slieve;
But wha blaws best the horn shall win -
I'll spier nae courtier's leave!'
21.
Then slow raise Marjorie o' the lochs,
And wrinkled was her brow,
Her ancient weed was russet gray,
Her auld Scots heart was true:-
22.
' There's some great folk set light by me,
I set as light by them;
But I will send to London Town
Wham I lo'e best at hame.'
23.
Sae how this sturt and strife may end,
There's naebody can tell.
God grant the King and ilka man
May look weel to themsel!



The Five Wrinkled Old Women

There was five wrinkled old women in the South:
They fell upon a scheme
To send a lad to London Town
To bring them tidings home:

Not only bring them tidings home,
But do their errands there:
And maybe gold and honour both
Might be that lad's share.

There was Maggie by the banks of the Nith,
A dame with pride enough;
And Marjorie o' the Many Lochs (Lakes),
A wrinkled woman old and tough;

And Smirking Bess of Annandale,
That dwelt near Solway-side;
And Brandy Jean, that took her gill (a liquid measure)
In Galloway sae wide;

And Black Joan, from Crichton Peel,
Of gypsy kith (friends) and kin (relatives):
Five influential old women were not found
The South country within.

To send a lad to London Town
They met upon a day;
And many a knight and many a laird (lord)
This errand gladly would go.

O, many a knight and many a laird (lord)
This errand gladly would go.
But no one could their fancy please,
O, never a one but two!

The first one was a belted Knight,
Bred of a border band;
And he would go to London Town,
Might no man him withstand;

And he would do their errands well,
And much he would say;
And every one at London court
Would bid to him good-day.

The next came in, a Soldier boy,
And spoke with modest grace;
And he would go to London Town,
If so their pleasure was.

He would not promise them courtly gifts,
Nor great speech pretend;
But he would promise an honest heart
Would never desert his friend.

Now whom to choose and whom to refuse
At strife those old women fell;
For some had gentle folk to please,
And some would please themselves.

Then out spoke prim-mouthed Meg of Nith,
And she spoke up with pride,
And she would send the Soldier lad,
Whatever might betide.

For the old Goodman (the King) of London court
She did not care a pin;
But she would send the Soldier lad
To greet his eldest son.

Then up sprang Bess of Annandale,
And swore a deadly oath,
Says:- 'I will send the belted Knight,
Spite of you old women both!'

' For far-off fowls have feathers fair,
And fools of change are fond;
But I have tried this Border Knight:
I will try him yet again.'

Then Brandy Jean spoke over her drink:-
' You well know, gossips all,
The old Goodman (the King) of London court,
His back has been at the wall;

' And many a friend that kissed his cup
Is now a hostile person;
But it has never be so with Brandy Jean -
I will send the Border Knight.'

Says Black Joan from Crichton Peel,
An old woman stern and grim:-
' The old Goodman (King) or the young Goodman (Prince)
For me may sink or swim!

' For fools will prate of right or wrong,
While knaves laugh in their sleave;
But who blows best the horn shall win -
I will ask no courtier's leave!'

Then slow raise Marjorie of the Lochs (Lakes),
And wrinkled was her brow,
Her ancient widows dress was russet gray,
Her old Scots heart was true:-

' There is some great folk sit light by me,
I set as light by them;
But I will send to London Town
Whom I love best at home.'

So how this turmoil and strife may end,
There is nobody can tell.
God grant the King and every man
May look well to themselves!

 

2004 WBC. Under no circumstances can any  of the contents of this site be copied, reproduced,  or represented without prior written consent.