Young Akin

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is taken from Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, and, like nearly all Buchan's versions, exhibits traces of vulgar remoulding. This ballad in particular has lost much of the original features. Kinloch called his version Hynde Etin, Allingham his compilation Etin the Forester.


The Story is given in a far finer style in romantic Scandinavian ballads. Prior translated two of them, The Maid and the Dwarf-King, and Agnes and the Merman, both Danish. The Norse ballads on this subject, which may still be heard sung, are exceptionally beautiful. Child says, 'They should make an Englishman's heart wring for his loss.'

In the present version we may with some confidence attribute to Buchan the stanzas from 48 to the end, as well as 15 and 16. The preference is given to Buchan's text merely because it retains features lost in Kinloch's version.


YOUNG AKIN

1.
Lady Margaret sits in her bower door,
Sewing at her silken seam;
She heard a note in Elmond's wood,
And wish'd she there had been.

2.
She loot the seam fa' frae her side,
And the needle to her tae,
And she is on to Elmond-wood
As fast as she coud gae.

3.
She hadna pu'd a nut, a nut,
Nor broken a branch but ane,
Till by it came a young hind chiel,
Says, 'Lady, lat alane.

4.
'O why pu' ye the nut, the nut,
Or why brake ye the tree?
For I am forester o' this wood:
Ye shoud spier leave at me.'

5.
'I'll ask leave at no living man,
Nor yet will I at thee;
My father is king o'er a' this realm,
This wood belongs to me.'

6.
She hadna pu'd a nut, a nut,
Nor broken a branch but three,
Till by it came him Young Akin,
And gard her lat them be.

7.
The highest tree in Elmond's wood,
He's pu'd it by the reet,
And he has built for her a bower,
Near by a hallow seat.

8.
He's built a bower, made it secure
Wi' carbuncle and stane;
Tho' travellers were never sae nigh,
Appearance it had nane.

9.
He's kept her there in Elmond's wood
For six lang years and one,
Till six pretty sons to him she bear,
And the seventh she's brought home.

10.
It fell ance upon a day,
This guid lord went from home,
And he is to the hunting gane,
Took wi' him his eldest son.

11.
And when they were on a guid way,
Wi' slowly pace did walk,
The boy's heart being something wae,
He thus began to talk.

12.
'A question I woud ask, father,
Gin ye woudna angry be;'
'Say on, say on, my bonny boy,
Ye'se nae be quarrell'd by me.'

13.
'I see my mither's cheeks aye weet,
I never can see them dry;
And I wonder what aileth my mither,
To mourn continually.'

14.
'Your mither was a king's daughter,
Sprung frae a high degree,
And she might hae wed some worthy prince
Had she nae been stown by me.

15.
'I was her father's cupbearer,
Just at that fatal time;
I catch'd her on a misty night,
When summer was in prime.

16.
'My luve to her was most sincere,
Her luve was great for me,
But when she hardships doth endure,
Her folly she does see.'

17.
'I'll shoot the buntin' o' the bush,
The linnet o' the tree,
And bring them to my dear mither,
See if she'll merrier be.'

18.
It fell upo' another day,
This guid lord he thought lang,
And he is to the hunting gane,
Took wi' him his dog and gun.

19.
Wi' bow and arrow by his side,
He's aff, single, alane,
And left his seven children to stay
Wi' their mither at hame.

20.
'O I will tell to you, mither,
Gin ye wadna angry be:'
'Speak on, speak on, my little wee boy,
Ye'se nae be quarrell'd by me.'

21.
'As we came frae the hynd-hunting,
We heard fine music ring:'
'My blessings on you, my bonny boy,
I wish I'd been there my lane.'

22.
He's ta'en his mither by the hand,
His six brithers also,
And they are on thro' Elmond's wood
As fast as they coud go.

23.
They wistna weel where they were gaen,
Wi' the stratlins o' their feet;
They wistna weel where they were gaen,
Till at her father's yate.

24.
'I hae nae money in my pocket,
But royal rings hae three;
I'll gie them you, my little young son,
And ye'll walk there for me.

25.
'Ye'll gie the first to the proud porter,
And he will lat you in;
Ye'll gie the next to the butler-boy,
And he will show you ben.

26.
'Ye'll gie the third to the minstrel
That plays before the King;
He'll play success to the bonny boy
Came thro' the wood him lane.'

27.
He ga'e the first to the proud porter,
And he open'd an' let him in;
He ga'e the next to the butler-boy,
And he has shown him ben;

28.
He ga'e the third to the minstrel
That play'd before the King;
And he play'd success to the bonny boy
Came thro' the wood him lane.

29.
Now when he came before the King,
Fell low down on his knee;
The King he turned round about,
And the saut tear blinded his e'e.

30.
'Win up, win up, my bonny boy,
Gang frae my companie;
Ye look sae like my dear daughter,
My heart will birst in three.'

31.
'If I look like your dear daughter,
A wonder it is none;
If I look like your dear daughter,
I am her eldest son.'

32.
'Will ye tell me, ye little wee boy,
Where may my Margaret be?'
'She's just now standing at your yates,
And my six brithers her wi'.'

33.
'O where are all my porter-boys
That I pay meat and fee,
To open my yates baith wide and braid?
Let her come in to me.'

34.
When she came in before the King,
Fell low down on her knee;
'Win up, win up, my daughter dear,
This day ye'll dine wi' me.'

35.
'Ae bit I canno eat, father,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
Till I see my mither and sister dear,
For lang for them I think!'

36.
When she came before the queen,
Fell low down on her knee;
'Win up, win up, my daughter dear,
This day ye'se dine wi' me.'

37.
'Ae bit I canno eat, mither,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
Until I see my dear sister,
For lang for her I think.'

38.
When that these two sisters met,
She hail'd her courteouslie;
'Come ben, come ben, my sister dear,
This day ye'se dine wi' me.'

39.
'Ae bit I canno eat, sister,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
Until I see my dear husband,
For lang for him I think.'

40.
'O where are all my rangers bold
That I pay meat and fee,
To search the forest far an' wide,
And bring Akin to me?'

41.
Out it speaks the little wee boy:
'Na, na, this maunna be;
Without ye grant a free pardon,
I hope ye'll nae him see!'

42.
'O here I grant a free pardon,
Well seal'd by my own han';
Ye may make search for Young Akin,
As soon as ever you can.'

43.
They search'd the country wide and braid,
The forests far and near,
And found him into Elmond's wood,
Tearing his yellow hair.

44.
'Win up, win up now, Young Akin,
Win up and boun wi' me;
We're messengers come from the court,
The king wants you to see.'

45.
'O lat him take frae me my head,
Or hang me on a tree;
For since I've lost my dear lady,
Life's no pleasure to me.'

46.
'Your head will nae be touch'd, Akin,
Nor hang'd upon a tree;
Your lady's in her father's court,
And all he wants is thee.'

47.
When he came in before the King,
Fell low down on his knee:
'Win up, win up now, Young Akin,
This day ye'se dine wi' me.'

48.
But as they were at dinner set,
The boy asked a boun:
'I wish we were in the good church,
For to get christendoun.

49.
'We hae lived in guid green wood
This seven years and ane;
But a' this time, since e'er I mind,
Was never a church within.'

50.
'Your asking's nae sae great, my boy,
But granted it shall be:
This day to guid church ye shall gang,
And your mither shall gang you wi'.'

51.
When she came unto the guid church,
She at the door did stan';
She was sae sair sunk down wi' shame,
She couldna come farer ben.

52.
Then out it speaks the parish priest,
And a sweet smile ga'e he:
'Come ben, come ben, my lily-flower,
Present your babes to me.'

53.
Charles, Vincent, Sam and Dick,
And likewise James and John;
They call'd the eldest Young Akin,
Which was his father's name.

54.
Then they staid in the royal court,
And liv'd wi' mirth and glee,
And when her father was deceas'd,
Heir of the crown was she.

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