Kemp Owyne

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is that given (nearly literatim) by Buchan and Motherwell, and also in the MSS. of the latter.


The Story.--This adventure of Owyne (Owain, 'the King's son Urien,' Ywaine, etc.), with the subsequent transformation, has a parallel in an Icelandic saga. Rehabilitation in human shape by means of a kiss is a common tale in the Scandinavian area; occasionally three kisses are necessary.

A similar ballad, now lost, but re-written by the contributor, from scraps of recitation by an old woman in Berwickshire, localises the story of the fire-drake ('the laidly worm') near Bamborough in Northumberland; and Kinloch said that the term 'Childe o' Wane' was still applied by disconsolate damsels of Bamborough to any youth who champions them. However, Mr. R. W. Clark of Bamborough, who has kindly made inquiries for me, could find no survival of this use.

The ballad is also called 'Kempion.'


KEMP OWYNE

1.
Her mother died when she was young,
Which gave her cause to make great moan;
Her father married the warst woman
That ever lived in Christendom.

2.
She served her with foot and hand,
In every thing that she could dee,
Till once, in an unlucky time,
She threw her in ower Craigy's sea.

3.
Says, 'Lie you there, dove Isabel,
And all my sorrows lie with thee;
Till Kemp Owyne come ower the sea,
And borrow you with kisses three,
Let all the warld do what they will,
Oh borrowed shall you never be!'

4.
Her breath grew strang, her hair grew lang,
And twisted thrice about the tree,
And all the people, far and near,
Thought that a savage beast was she.

5.
These news did come to Kemp Owyne,
Where he lived, far beyond the sea;
He hasted him to Craigy's sea,
And on the savage beast look'd he.

6.
Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted was about the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
'Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.

7.
'Here is a royal belt,' she cried,
'That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,
Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
I vow my belt your death shall be.'

8.
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal belt he brought him wi';
Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted twice about the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
'Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.

9.
'Here is a royal ring,' she said,
'That I have found in the green sea;
And while your finger it is on,
Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
I swear my ring your death shall be.'

10.
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal ring he brought him wi';
Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted ance about the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
'Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.

11.
'Here is a royal brand,' she said,
'That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,
Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
I swear my brand your death shall be.'

12.
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal brand he brought him wi';
Her breath was sweet, her hair grew short,
And twisted nane about the tree,
And smilingly she came about,
As fair a woman as fair could be.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'Kemp Owyne' by Frank Sidgwick

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy