Willie O' Winsbury

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is from the Campbell MSS.

The Story was imagined by Kinloch to possess a quasi-historical foundation: James V. of Scotland, who eventually married Madeleine, elder daughter of Francis I., having been previously betrothed 'by treaty' to Marie de Bourbon, daughter of the Duke of Vendôme, returned to Scotland in 1537. The theory is neither probable nor plausible.


The king he hath been a prisoner,
A prisoner lang in Spain, O,
And Willie o' the Winsbury
Has lain lang wi' his daughter at hame, O.

'What aileth thee, my daughter Janet,
Ye look so pale and wan?
Have ye had any sore sickness,
Or have ye been lying wi' a man?
Or is it for me, your father dear,
And biding sae lang in Spain?'

'I have not had any sore sickness,
Nor yet been lying wi' a man;
But it is for you, my father dear,
In biding sae lang in Spain.'

'Cast ye off your berry-brown gown,
Stand straight upon the stone,
That I may ken ye by yere shape,
Whether ye be a maiden or none.'

She's coosten off her berry-brown gown,
Stooden straight upo' yon stone;
Her apron was short, her haunches were round,
Her face it was pale and wan.

'Is it to a man o' might, Janet?
Or is it to a man of fame?
Or is it to any of the rank robbers
That's lately come out o' Spain?'

'It is not to a man of might,' she said,
'Nor is it to a man of fame;
But it is to William of Winsbury;
I could lye nae langer my lane.'

The king's called on his merry men all,
By thirty and by three:
'Go fetch me William of Winsbury,
For hanged he shall be.'

But when he cam' the king before,
He was clad o' the red silk;
His hair was like to threeds o' gold,
And his skin was as white as milk.

'It is nae wonder,' said the king,
'That my daughter's love ye did win;
Had I been a woman, as I am a man,
My bedfellow ye should hae been.

'Will ye marry my daughter Janet,
By the truth of thy right hand?
I'll gi'e ye gold, I'll gi'e ye money,
And I'll gi'e ye an earldom o' land.'

'Yes, I'll marry yere daughter Janet,
By the truth of my right hand;
But I'll hae nane o' yer gold, I'll hae nane o' yer money,
Nor I winna hae an earldom o' land.

'For I hae eighteen corn-mills
Runs all in water clear,
And there's as much corn in each o' them
As they can grind in a year.'

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