The Grey Selchie of Shool Skerry

A poem by Frank Sidgwick


1.
In Norway lands there lived a maid,
'Hush, ba, loo lillie,' this maid began;
'I know not where my baby's father is,
Whether by land or sea does he travel in.'

2.
It happened on a certain day,
When this fair lady fell fast asleep,
That in cam' a good grey selchie,
And set him doon at her bed feet,

3.
Saying, 'Awak', awak', my pretty fair maid.
For oh! how sound as thou dost sleep!
An' I'll tell thee where thy baby's father is;
He's sittin' close at thy bed feet.'

4.
'I pray, come tell to me thy name,
Oh! tell me where does thy dwelling be?'
'My name it is good Hein Mailer,
An' I earn my livin' oot o' the sea.

5.
'I am a man upon the land;
I am a selchie in the sea;
An' whin I'm far frae every strand,
My dwellin' is in Shool Skerrie.'

6.
'Alas! alas! this woeful fate!
This weary fate that's been laid for me!
That a man should come frae the Wast o' Hoy,
To the Norway lands to have a bairn wi' me.'

7.
'My dear, I'll wed thee with a ring,
With a ring, my dear, I'll wed wi' thee.'
'Thoo may go wed thee weddens wi' whom thoo wilt;
For I'm sure thoo'll never wed none wi' me.'

8.
'Thoo will nurse my little wee son
For seven long years upo' thy knee,
An' at the end o' seven long years
I'll come back an' pay the norish fee.'

9.
She's nursed her little wee son
For seven long years upo' her knee,
An' at the end o' seven long years
He cam' back wi' gold an' white monie.

10.
She says, 'My dear, I'll wed thee wi' a ring,
With a ring, my dear, I'll wed wi' thee.'
'Thoo may go wed thee weddens wi' whom thoo will;
For I'm sure thoo'll never wed none wi' me.

11.
'But I'll put a gold chain around his neck,
An' a gey good gold chain it'll be,
That if ever he comes to the Norway lands,
Thoo may hae a gey good guess on hi'.

12.
'An' thoo will get a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it will be,
An' he'll gae oot on a May mornin'
An' shoot the son an' the grey selchie.'

13.
Oh! she has got a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it was he,
An' he gaed oot on a May mornin',
An' he shot the son and the grey selchie.

When the gunner returned from his expedition and showed the Norway woman the gold chain, which he had found round the neck of the young seal, the poor woman, realising that her son had perished, gives expression to her sorrow in the last stanza:--

14.
'Alas! alas! this woeful fate!
This weary fate that's been laid for me!'
An' ance or twice she sobbed and sighed,
An' her tender heart did brak in three.

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