Lamkin

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is from Jamieson's Popular Ballads. He obtained it from Mrs. Brown. It is by far the best version of a score or so in existence. The name of the hero varies from Lamkin, Lankin, Lonkin, etc., to Rankin and Balcanqual. I have been informed by Andrew McDowall, Esq., of an incomplete version in which Lamkin's name has become 'Bold Hang'em.'

Finlay (Scottish Ballads) remarks:-- 'All reciters agree that Lammikin, or Lambkin, is not the name of the hero, but merely an epithet.'

The Story varies little throughout all the versions, though in some, as in one known to Percy, it lacks much of the detail here given.


LAMKIN

1.
It's Lamkin was a mason good
As ever built wi' stane;
He built Lord Wearie's castle,
But payment got he nane.

2.
'O pay me, Lord Wearie,
Come, pay me my fee':
'I canna pay you, Lamkin,
For I maun gang o'er the sea.'

3.
'O pay me now, Lord Wearie,
Come, pay me out o' hand':
'I canna pay you, Lamkin,
Unless I sell my land.'

4.
'O gin ye winna pay me,
I here sail mak' a vow,
Before that ye come hame again,
Ye sall hae cause to rue.'

5.
Lord Wearie got a bonny ship,
To sail the saut sea faem;
Bade his lady weel the castle keep,
Ay till he should come hame.

6.
But the nourice was a fause limmer
As e'er hung on a tree;
She laid a plot wi' Lamkin,
Whan her lord was o'er the sea.

7.
She laid a plot wi' Lamkin,
When the servants were awa',
Loot him in at a little shot-window,
And brought him to the ha'.

8.
'O whare's a' the men o' this house,
That ca' me Lamkin?'
'They're at the barn-well thrashing;
'Twill be lang ere they come in.'

9.
'And whare's the women o' this house,
That ca' me Lamkin?'
'They're at the far well washing;
'Twill be lang ere they come in.'

10.
'And whare's the bairns o' this house,
That ca' me Lamkin?'
'They're at the school reading;
'Twill be night or they come hame.'

11.
'O whare's the lady o' this house,
That ca's me Lamkin?'
'She's up in her bower sewing,
But we soon can bring her down.'

12.
Then Lamkin's tane a sharp knife,
That hung down by his gaire,
And he has gi'en the bonny babe
A deep wound and a sair.

13.
Then Lamkin he rocked,
And the fause nourice sang,
Till frae ilkae bore o' the cradle
The red blood out sprang.

14.
Then out it spak' the lady,
As she stood on the stair:
'What ails my bairn, nourice,
That he's greeting sae sair?

15.
'O still my bairn, nourice,
O still him wi' the pap!'
'He winna still, lady,
For this nor for that.'

16.
'O still my bairn, nourice,
O still him wi' the wand!'
'He winna still, lady,
For a' his father's land.'

17.
'O still my bairn, nourice,
O still him wi' the bell!'
'He winna still, lady,
Till ye come down yoursel'.'

18.
O the firsten step she steppit,
She steppit on a stane;
But the neisten step she steppit,
She met him Lamkin.

19.
'O mercy, mercy, Lamkin,
Hae mercy upon me!
Though you've ta'en my young son's life,
Ye may let mysel' be.'

20.
'O sall I kill her, nourice,
Or sall I lat her be?'
'O kill her, kill her, Lamkin,
For she ne'er was good to me.'

21.
'O scour the bason, nourice,
And mak' it fair and clean,
For to keep this lady's heart's blood,
For she's come o' noble kin.'

22.
'There need nae bason, Lamkin,
Lat it run through the floor;
What better is the heart's blood
O' the rich than o' the poor?'

23.
But ere three months were at an end,
Lord Wearie came again;
But dowie, dowie was his heart
When first he came hame.

24.
'O wha's blood is this,' he says,
'That lies in the chamer?'
'It is your lady's heart's blood;
'T is as clear as the lamer.'

25.
'And wha's blood is this,' he says,
'That lies in my ha'?'
'It is your young son's heart's blood;
'Tis the clearest ava.'

26.
O sweetly sang the black-bird
That sat upon the tree;
But sairer grat Lamkin,
When he was condemn'd to die.

27.
And bonny sang the mavis
Out o' the thorny brake;
But sairer grat the nourice,
When she was tied to the stake.

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