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O Heard Ye Of A Silly Harper?
TUNE: The Lochmaben Harper

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

O Heard Ye Of A Silly Harper?

1.
O, heard ye of a silly harper
Liv'd long in Lochmaben town?
How did he gang to fair England
To steal King Henry's wanton brown.
How did he gang to fair England
To steal King Henry's wanton brown.
2.
But first he gaed to his gude-wife
Wi' a' the speed that he could thole:-
' This wark,' quo' he, ' will never work
Without a mare that has a foal'
' This wark,' quo' he, ' will never work
Without a mare that has a foal'
3.
Quo' she, ' thou has a gude grey mare
That'll rin o'er hills baith low and hie;
Gae tak the grey mare in thy hand,
And leave the foal at hame wi' me.'
Gae tak the grey mare in thy hand,
And leave the foal at hame wi' me.'
4.
' And tak a halter in thy hose,
And o' thy purpose dinna fail,
But wap it o'er the wanton's nose,
And tie her to the grey mare's tail.
But wap it o'er the wanton's nose,
And tie her to the grey mare's tail.
5.
' Syne ca' her out at yon back yeate,
O'er moss and muir and ilka dale,
For she'll ne'er let the wanton bite,
Till she come hame to her ain foal.'
For she'll ne'er let the wanton bite,
Till she come hame to her ain foal.'
6.
So he is up to England gane,
Even as fast as he can hie,
Till he came to King Henry's yeate -
And wha was there but King Henry?
Till he came to King Henry's yeate -
And wha was there but King Henry?
7.
' Come in,' quo he, ' thou silly blind harper,
And of thy harping let me hear':
' O! by my sooth,' quo' the silly blind harper,
' I'd rather have stabling for my mare.'
' O! by my sooth,' quo' the silly blind harper,
' I'd rather have stabling for my mare.'
8.
The King looks o'er his left shoulder,
And says unto his stable groom:-
' Gae tak the silly poor harper's mare,
And tie her 'side my wanton brown.'
' Gae tak the silly poor harper's mare,
And tie her 'side my wanton brown.'
9.
And ay he harped, and ay he carpit,
Till a' the lords gaed through the floor;
They thought the music was sae sweet
That they forgot the stable door.
They thought the music was sae sweet
That they forgot the stable door.
10.
And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit,
Till a' the nobles were sound asleep;
Then quietly he took aff his shoon
And saftly down the stair did creep.
Then quietly he took aff his shoon
And saftly down the stair did creep.
11.
Syne to the stable door he hies
Wi' tread as light as light could be,
And when he open'd and gaed in,
There he fand thirty good steeds and three.
And when he open'd and gaed in,
There he fand thirty good steeds and three.
12.
He took the halter frae his hose,
And of his purpose did na fail;
He slipt it o'er the wanton's nose,
And tied it to his grey mare's tail.
He slipt it o'er the wanton's nose,
And tied it to his grey mare's tail.
13.
He ca'd her out at yon back yeate
O'er moss and muir and ilka dale,
And she loot ne'er the wanton bite,
But held her still gaun at her tail.
And she loot ne'er the wanton bite,
But held her still gaun at her tail.
14.
The grey mare was right swift o' fit,
And did na fail to find the way,
For she was at Lochmaben yeate
Fu' lang three hours ere it was day.
For she was at Lochmaben yeate
Fu' lang three hours ere it was day.
15.
When she came to the harper's door,
There she gae many a nicher and snear;
' Rise,' quo' the wife, ' thou lazy lass,
Let in thy master and his mare.'
' Rise,' quo' the wife, ' thou lazy lass,
Let in thy master and his mare.'
16.
Then up she raise, pat on her claes,
And lookit out through the lock-hole:
' O! by my sooth, then,' quo' the lass,
' Our mare has gotten a braw big foal.'
' O! by my sooth, then,' quo' the lass,
' Our mare has gotten a braw big foal.'
17.
' Come haud thy peace thou foolish lass,
The moon's but glancing in thy e'e;
I'd wad my haill fee 'gainst a groat
It's bigger than e'er our foal will be.'
I'd wad my haill fee 'gainst a groat
It's bigger than e'er our foal will be.'
18.
The neighbours too that heard the noise
Cried to the wife to put her in;
' By my sooth, then,' quoth the wife
' She's better than ever he rade on.'
' By my sooth, then,' quoth the wife
' She's better than ever he rade on.'
19.
But on the morn at fair daylight,
When they had ended a' their cheer:
King Henry's wanton brown was stawn,
And eke the poor auld harper's mare.
King Henry's wanton brown was stawn,
And eke the poor auld harper's mare.
20.
' Alace! alace!' says the silly blind harper;
'Alace! alace! that I cam here,
In Scotland I've tint a braw cowte foal,
In England they've stawn my gude grey mare.'
In Scotland I've tint a braw cowte foal,
In England they've stawn my gude grey mare.'
21.
' Come haud thy tongue, thou silly blind harper,
And of thy alacing let me be,
For thou shall get a better mare,
And weel paid shall thy cowte foal be.
For thou shall get a better mare,
And weel paid shall thy cowte foal be.

O Heard You Of A Silly Harper?


O, heard you of a silly harper (harp player)
Lived long in Lochmaben town?
How did he go to fair England
To steal King Henry's wanton brown.
How did he go to fair England
To steal King Henry's wanton brown.

But first he went to his good wife
With all the speed that he could endure:-
' This work,' said he, ' will never work
Without a mare that has a foal'
' This work,' said he, ' will never work
Without a mare that has a foal'

Said she, ' you have a good grey mare
That will run over hills both low and high;
Go take the grey mare in your hand,
And leave the foal at home with me.'
Go take the grey mare in your hand,
And leave the foal at home with me.'

' And take a halter in thy hose (stockings),
And of your purpose do not fail,
But wrap it over the wanton's nose,
And tie her to the grey mare's tail.
But wrap it over the wanton's nose,
And tie her to the grey mare's tail.

' Then call her out at yonder back gate,
Over bog and moorland and every dale,
For she will never let the wanton bite,
Till she come home to her own foal.'
For she will never let the wanton bite,
Till she come home to her own foal.'

So he is up to England gone,
Even as fast as he can hasten,
Till he came to King Henry's gate -
And who was there but King Henry?
Till he came to King Henry's gate -
And who was there but King Henry?

' Come in,' said he, ' you silly blind harper,
And of thy harping let me hear':
' O! by my truth,' said the silly blind harper,
' I would rather have stabling for my mare.'
' O! by my truth,' said the silly blind harper,
' I would rather have stabling for my mare.'

The King looks o'er his left shoulder,
And says unto his stable groom:-
' Go take the silly poor harper's mare,
And tie her beside my wanton brown.'
' Go take the silly poor harper's mare,
And tie her beside my wanton brown.'

And always he harped, and always he boasted,
Till all the lords went through the floor;
They thought the music was so sweet
That they forgot the stable door.
They thought the music was so sweet
That they forgot the stable door.

And always he harped, and always he boasted,
Till all the nobles were sound asleep;
Then quietly he took off his shoes
And softly down the stair did creep.
Then quietly he took off his shoes
And softly down the stair did creep.

Then to the stable door he hastens
With tread as light as light could be,
And when he opened and went in,
There he found thirty good steeds and three.
And when he opened and went in,
There he found thirty good steeds and three.

He took the halter from his stockings,
And of his purpose did not fail;
He slipped it over the wanton's nose,
And tied it to his grey mare's tail.
He slipped it over the wanton's nose,
And tied it to his grey mare's tail.

He drove her out at yonder back gate
Over bog and moorland and every dale,
And she let never the wanton bite,
But held her still (from) going at her tail.
And she let never the wanton bite,
But held her still (from) going at her tail.

The grey mare was right swift of foot,
And did not fail to find the way,
For she was at Lochmaben gate
Full long three hours before it was day.
For she was at Lochmaben gate
Full long three hours before it was day.

When she came to the harper's door,
There she gave many a neigh and sneer;
' Rise,' said the wife, ' you lazy lass,
Let in your master and his mare.'
' Rise,' said the wife, ' you lazy lass,
Let in your master and his mare.'

Then up she rose, put on her clothes,
And looked out through the lock-hole:
' O! by my truth, then,' said the lass,
' Our mare has gotten a lovely big foal.'
' O! by my truth, then,' said the lass,
' Our mare has gotten a lovely big foal.'

' Come hold your peace (be quiet) you foolish lass,
The moon's but glinting in your eye;
I would wager my whole fee against a groat
It is bigger than ever our foal will be.'
I would wager my whole fee against a groat
It is bigger than ever our foal will be.'

The neighbours too that heard the noise
Cried to the wife to put her in;
' By my truth, then,' said the wife
' She is better than ever he rode on.'
' By my truth, then,' said the wife
' She is better than ever he rode on.'

But on the morning at fair daylight,
When they had ended all their cheer:
King Henry's wanton brown was stolen,
And also the poor old harper's mare.
King Henry's wanton brown was stolen,
And also the poor old harper's mare.

' Alas! alas!' says the silly blind harper;
'Alas! alas! that I came here,
In Scotland I have lost a good colt foal,
In England they have stolen my good grey mare.'
In Scotland I have lost a good colt foal,
In England they have stolen my good grey mare.'

' Come hold your tongue, you silly blind harper,
And of your alasing let me be,
For you shall get a better mare,
And well paid shall your colt foal be.
For you shall get a better mare,
And well paid shall your colt foal be.

 

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