The Wife Of Usher's Well

Miracle at Usher's Well

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Melody -
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Ballad from Child, Vol. 3 #79

There lived a wife at Usher's Well,
And a wealthy wife was she;
She had three stout and stalwart sons,
And sent them oer the sea,

2. They hadna been a week from her,
A week but barely ane,
When word came to the carline wife
That her three sons were gane.

3. They hadna been a week from her,
A week but barely three,
Whan word came to the carlin wife
That her sons she'd never see.

4. I wish the wind may never cease,
Nor fashes in the flood,
Till my three sons come hame to me,
In earthly flesh and blood!

5. It fell about the Martinmass,
Whan nights are lang and mirk,
The carline wife's three sons came hame,
And their hats were o the birk.

6. It neither grew in syke nor ditch,
Nor yet in ony sheugh;
But at the gates o Paradise
That birk grew fair eneugh.

7. Blow up the fire, my maidens!
Bring water from the well;
For a' my house shall feast this night,
Since my three sons are well.

8. And she has made to them a bed,
She's made it large and wide;
And she's taen her mantle her about,
Sat down at the bedside.

9. Up then crew the red, red cock,
And up and crew the gray;
The eldest to the youngest said,
'Tis time we were away.

10. The cock he hadna crawd but once,
And clapp'd his wings at a',
Whan the youngest to the eldest said,
Brother, we must awa.

11. The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
The channerin worm doth chide;
Gin we be mist out o our place,
A sair pain we maun bide.

12. Fare ye weel, my mother dear!
Fareweel to barn and byre!
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass
That kindles my mother's fire!


Here "The cock doth craw, the day doth daw," having a middle rhyme, can scarcely be of extreme antiquity, probably, in the original poem, the dead return to rebuke the extreme grief of the Mother, but the poem is perhaps really more affecting in the absence of a didactic motive. Scott obtained it from an old woman in West Lothian. Probably the reading "fashes," (troubles), "in the flood" is correct, not "fishes," or "freshes." The mother desires that the sea may never cease to be troubled till her sons return (verse 4, line 2). The peculiar doom of women dead in child-bearing occurs even in Aztec mythology.

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