Brown Adam

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is given from the Jamieson-Brown MS. It was first printed by Scott, with the omission of the second stanza--perhaps justifiable--and a few minor changes. He notes that he had seen a copy printed on a single sheet.

The Story has a remote parallel in a Danish ballad, extant in manuscripts of the sixteenth century and later, Den afhugne Haand. The tale is told as follows. Lutzelil, knowing the evil ways of Lawi Pederson, rejects his proffered love. Lawi vows she shall repent it, and the maiden is afraid for nine months to go to church, but goes at Easter. Lawi meets her in a wood, and repeats his offer. She begs him to do her no harm, feigns compliance, and makes an assignation in the chamber of her maids. She returns home and tells her father, who watches for Lawi. When he comes and demands admission, she denies the assignation. Lawi breaks down the door, and discovers Lutzelil's father with a drawn sword, with which he cuts off Lawi's hand.

The reason for objecting to the second stanza as here given is not so much the inadequacy of a golden hammer, or the unusual whiteness of the smith's fingers, but the rhyme in the third line.


O wha woud wish the win' to blaw,
Or the green leaves fa' therewith?
Or wha wad wish a leeler love
Than Brown Adam the Smith?

His hammer's o' the beaten gold,
His study's o' the steel,
His fingers white are my delite,
He blows his bellows well.

But they ha' banish'd him Brown Adam
Frae father and frae mither,
An' they ha' banish'd him Brown Adam
Frae sister and frae brither.

And they ha' banish'd Brown Adam
Frae the flow'r o' a' his kin;
An' he's biggit a bow'r i' the good green wood
Betwen his lady an' him.

O it fell once upon a day
Brown Adam he thought lang,
An' he woud to the green wood gang,
To hunt some venison.

He's ta'en his bow his arm o'er,
His bran' intill his han',
And he is to the good green wood,
As fast as he coud gang.

O he's shot up, an' he's shot down,
The bird upo' the briar,
An' he's sent it hame to his lady,
Bade her be of good cheer.

O he's shot up, an' he's shot down,
The bird upo' the thorn,
And sent it hame to his lady,
And hee'd be hame the morn.

Whan he came till his lady's bow'r-door
He stood a little forbye,
And there he heard a fu' fa'se knight
Temptin' his gay lady.

O he's ta'en out a gay gold ring,
Had cost him mony a poun':
'O grant me love for love, lady,
An' this sal be your own.'

'I loo Brown Adam well,' she says,
'I wot sae does he me;
An' I woud na gi' Brown Adam's love
For nae fa'se knight I see.'

Out he has ta'en a purse of gold,
Was a' fu' to the string:
'Grant me but love for love, lady,
An' a' this sal be thine.'

'I loo Brown Adam well,' she says,
'An' I ken sae does he me;
An' I woudna be your light leman
For mair nor ye coud gie.'

Then out has he drawn his lang, lang bran',
An' he's flash'd it in her een:
'Now grant me love for love, lady,
Or thro' you this sal gang!'

'O,' sighing said that gay lady,
'Brown Adam tarrys lang!'
Then up it starts Brown Adam,
Says, 'I'm just at your han'.'

He's gard him leave his bow, his bow,
He's gard him leave his bran';
He's gard him leave a better pledge--
Four fingers o' his right han'.

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