Clerk Sanders

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is given in full from Herd's MSS., where it concludes with a version of Sweet William's Ghost; and the last three stanzas, 42-44, are from Scott's later version of the ballad (1833) from recitation. Child divides the ballad as follows:-- Clerk Sanders, 1-26 of the present version; Sweet William's Ghost, 27-41. Scott made 'one or two conjectural emendations in the arrangement of the stanzas.'


The Story of this admirable ballad in its various forms is paralleled in one or two of its incidents by a similar collection of Scandinavian ballads. Jamieson introduced into his version certain questions and answers (of the prevaricating type found in a baser form in Our Goodman) which are professedly of Scandinavian origin.


CLERK SANDERS

1.
Clark Sanders and May Margret
Walkt ower yon gravel'd green;
And sad and heavy was the love,
I wat, it fell this twa between.

2.
'A bed, a bed,' Clark Sanders said,
'A bed, a bed, for you and I:'
'Fye no, fye no,' the lady said,
'Until the day we married be.

3.
'For in it will come my seven brothers,
And a' their torches burning bright;
They'll say, We hae but ae sister,
And here her lying wi' a knight.'

4.
'Ye'l take the sourde fray my scabbord,
And lowly, lowly lift the gin,
And you may say, your oth to save,
You never let Clerk Sanders in.

5.
'Yele take a napken in your hand,
And ye'l ty up baith your een,
An' ye may say, your oth to save,
That ye saw na Sandy sen late yestreen.

6.
'Yele take me in your armes twa,
Yele carrey me ben into your bed,
And ye may say, your oth to save,
In your bower-floor I never tread.'

7.
She has ta'en the sourde fray his scabbord.
And lowly, lowly lifted the gin;
She was to swear, her oth to save,
She never let Clerk Sanders in.

8.
She has tain a napkin in her hand,
And she ty'd up baith her een;
She was to swear, her oth to save,
She saw na him sene late yestreen.

9.
She has ta'en him in her armes twa,
And carried him ben into her bed;
She was to swear, her oth to save,
He never in her bower-floor tread.

10.
In and came her seven brothers,
And all their torches burning bright;
Says thay, We hae but ae sister,
And see there her lying wi' a knight.

11.
Out and speaks the first of them,
'A wat they hay been lovers dear;'
Out and speaks the next of them,
'They hay been in love this many a year.'

12.
Out an' speaks the third of them,
'It wear great sin this twa to twain;'
Out an' speaks the fourth of them,
'It wear a sin to kill a sleeping man.'

13.
Out an' speaks the fifth of them,
'A wat they'll near be twain'd by me;'
Out an' speaks the sixt of them,
'We'l tak our leave an' gae our way.'

14.
Out an' speaks the seventh of them,
'Altho' there wear no a man but me,
I'se bear the brand into my hand
Shall quickly gar Clark Sanders die.'

15.
Out he has ta'en a bright long brand,
And he has striped it throw the straw,
And throw and throw Clarke Sanders' body
A wat he has gard cold iron gae.

16.
Sanders he started, an' Margret she lapt
Intill his arms where she lay;
And well and wellsom was the night,
A wat it was between these twa.

17.
And they lay still, and sleeped sound,
Untill the day began to daw;
And kindly till him she did say,
'It is time, trew-love, ye wear awa'.'

18.
They lay still, and sleeped sound,
Untill the sun began to shine;
She lookt between her and the wa',
And dull and heavy was his een.

19.
She thought it had been a loathsome sweat,
A wat it had fallen this twa between;
But it was the blood of his fair body,
A wat his life days wair na lang.

20.
'O Sanders, I'le do for your sake
What other ladys would na thoule;
When seven years is come and gone,
There's near a shoe go on my sole.

21.
'O Sanders, I'le do for your sake
What other ladies would think mare;
When seven years is come and gone,
There's nere a comb go in my hair.

22.
'O Sanders, I'le do for your sake,
What other ladies would think lack;
When seven years is come and gone,
I'le wear nought but dowy black.'

23.
The bells gaed clinking throw the towne,
To carry the dead corps to the clay;
An' sighing says her May Margret,
'A wat I bide a doulfou' day.'

24.
In an' come her father dear,
Stout steping on the floor;
... ... ...
... ... ...

25.
'Hold your toung, my doughter dear,
Let a' your mourning a-bee;
I'le carry the dead corps to the clay,
An' I'le come back an' comfort thee.'

26.
'Comfort well your seven sons;
For comforted will I never bee;
For it was neither lord nor loune
That was in bower last night wi' mee.'

27.
Whan bells war rung, an' mass was sung,
A wat a' man to bed were gone,
Clark Sanders came to Margret's window,
With mony a sad sigh and groan.

28.
'Are ye sleeping, Margret?' he says,
'Or are ye waking presentlie?
Give me my faith and trouthe again,
A wat, trew-love, I gied to thee.'

29.
'Your faith and trouth ye's never get,
Nor our trew love shall never twain,
Till ye come with me in my bower,
And kiss me both cheek and chin.'

30.
'My mouth it is full cold, Margret,
It has the smell now of the ground;
And if I kiss thy comely mouth,
Thy life days will not be long.

31.
'Cocks are crowing a merry mid-larf,
I wat the wild fule boded day;
Gie me my faith and trouthe again.
And let me fare me on my way.'

32.
'Thy faith and trouth thou shall na get,
And our trew love shall never twin,
Till ye tell me what comes of women
A wat that dy's in strong traveling?'

33.
'Their beds are made in the heavens high,
Down at the foot of our good Lord's knee,
Well set about wi' gillyflowers:
A wat sweet company for to see.

34.
'O, cocks are crowing a merry mid-larf,
A wat the wilde foule boded day;
The salms of Heaven will be sung,
And ere now I'le be misst away.'

35.
Up she has tain a bright long wand,
And she has straked her trouth thereon;
She has given [it] him out at the shot-window,
Wi' many a sad sigh and heavy groan.

36.
'I thank you, Margret; I thank you, Margret,
And I thank you heartilie;
Gin ever the dead come for the quick,
Be sure, Margret, I'll come again for thee.'

37.
It's hose an' shoon an' gound alane,
She clame the wall and follow'd him,
Until she came to a green forest,
On this she lost the sight of him.

38.
'Is there any room at your head, Sanders?
Is there any room at your feet?
Or any room at your twa sides,
Whare fain, fain woud I sleep?'

39.
'Thair is na room at my head, Margret,
Thair is na room at my feet;
There is room at my twa sides,
For ladys for to sleep.

40.
'Cold meal is my covering owre,
But an' my winding sheet;
My bed it is full low, I say,
Down among the hongerey worms I sleep.

41.
'Cold meal is my covering owre,
But an' my winding sheet;
The dew it falls na sooner down
Then ay it is full weet.

42.
'But plait a wand o' bonny birk,
And lay it on my breast;
And shed a tear upon my grave,
And wish my saul gude rest.

43.
'And fair Margret, and rare Margret,
And Margret o' veritie,
Gin e'er ye love another man,
Ne'er love him as ye did me.'

44.
Then up and crew the milk-white cock,
And up and crew the grey;
The lover vanish'd in the air,
And she gaed weeping away.

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