Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament

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Melody - Seq. by Lesley Nelson
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from Child, vol. 4, Early Edition

Balow, my boy, ly still and sleep,
It grieves me sore to hear thee weep,
If thou'lt be silent, I'll be glad,
Thy mourning makes my heart full sad.
Balow, my boy, thy mother's joy,
Thy father bred one great annoy.
Chorus:
Balow, my boy, ly still and sleep,
It grieves me sore to hear thee weep.

2. Balow, my darling, sleep a while,
And when thou wak'st then sweetly smile;
But smile not as thy father did,
To cozen maids, nay, God forbid;
For in thine eye his look I see,
The tempting look that ruin'd me.
Chorus:

3. When he began to court my love,
And with his sugar'd words to move,
His tempting face, and flatt'ring chear,
In time to me did not appear;
But now I see that cruel he
Cares neither for his babe nor me.
Chorus:

4. Fareweel, fareaeel, thou falsest youth
That ever kist a woman's mouth.
Let never any after me
Submit unto thy courtesy!
For, if hey do, O! cruel thou
Wilt her abuse and care not how!
Chorus:

5. I was too cred'lous at the first,
To yield thee all a maiden durst.
Thou swore for ever true to prove,
Thy faith unchang'd, unchang'd thy love;
But quick as thought the change is wrought,
Thy love's no mair, thy promise nought.
Chorus:

6. I wish I were a maid again!
From young men's flatt'ry I'd refrain;
For now unto my grief I find
They all are perjur'd and unkind;
Bewitching charms bred all my harms; -
Witness my babe lies in my arms.
Chorus:

7. I take my fate from bad to worse,
That I must needs be now a nurse,
And lull my young son on my lap:
From me, sweet orphan, take the pap.
Balow, my child, thy mother mild
Shall wail as from all bliss exil'd.
Chorus:

8. Balow, my boy, weep not for me,
Whose greatest grief's for wronging thee.
Nor pity her deserved smart,
Who can blame none but her fond heart;
For, too soon tursting latest finds
With fairest tongues are falsest minds.
Chorus:

9. Balow, my boy, thy father's fled,
When he the thriftless son has played;
Of vows and oaths forgetful, he
Preferr'd the wars to thee and me.
But now, perhaps, thy curse and mine
Make him eat acorns with the swine.
Chorus:

10. But curse not him; perhaps now he,
Stung with remorse, is blessing thee:
Perhaps at death; for who can tell
Whether the judge of heaven or hell,
By some proud foe has struck the blow,
And laid the dear deceiver low?
Chorus:

11. I wish I were into the bounds
Where he lies smother'd in his wounds,
Repeating, as he pants for air,
My name, whom once he call'd his fair;
No woman's yet so fiercely set
But she'll forgive, though not forget.
Chorus:

12. If linen lacks, for my love's sake
Then quickly to him would I make
My smock, once for his body meet,
And wrap him in that winding-sheet.
Ah me! how happy had I been,
If he had ne'er been wrapt therein.
Chorus:

13. Balow, my boy, I'll weep for thee;
Too soon, alake, thou'lt weep for me:
Thy griefs are growing to a sum,
God grant thee patience when they come;
Born to sustain thy mother's shame,
A hapless fate, a bastard's name.
Chorus:


Tradition has confused the heroine of this piece with the wife of Bothwelhaugh, who slew the Regent Murray. That his motive was not mere political assassination, but to avenge the ill-treatment and death of his wife, seems to be disproved by Maidment. The affair, however, is still obscure. This deserted Lady Anne of the ballad was, in fact, not the wife of Bothwelhaugh, but the daughter of the Bishop of Orkney; her lover is said to have been her cousin, Alexander Erskine, son of the Earl of Mar. Part of the poem (Mr. Child points out) occurs in Broome's play, THE NORTHERN LASS (1632). Though a popular favourite, the piece is clearly of literary origin, and has been severely "edited" by a literary hand. This version is Allan Ramsay's. - A Collection of Ballads by Andrew Lang.

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