Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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EELINTON.                               223
He set his back unto an aik,
He set his feet against a stane, An' he has fought these fifteen men,
An' kill'd them a' but barely ane ; For he has left that aged knight,                        es
An' a' to carry the tidings hame.
When he gaed to his lady fair,
I wat he kiss'd her tenderlie : " Thou art mine ain love, I have thee bought;
Now we shall walk the green-wood free." tb
Note to v. 59, 60.
" Say'n,' See ye dinna change your cheer, Untill ye see my body bleed.' "
As has been remarked (vol. ii. p. 114), Erlinton retains an important, and even fundamental trait of the older forms of the story, which is not found in any other of the English ver­sions of the Douglas Tragedy. It was a northern superstition that to call a man by name while he was engaged in fight was a fatal omen, and hence a phrase," to name-to-death." To avert this danger, Eibolt, in nearly all the Scandinavian ballads, entreats Guldborg not to pronounce his name, even if she sees him bleeding or struck down. In her agony at see­ing the last of her brothers about to be slain, Guldborg forgets her lover's injunction, calls on him by name to stop, and thus brings about the catastrophe. Ignorant reciters have either dropped the corresponding passage in the English bal­lad, or (as in this case) have so corrupted it, that its signifi­cance is only to be made out by comparison with the ancient copies.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III