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Broom o the Cowdenknowes (Ballad Version)

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Broom o' the Cowdenknowes (Ballad Version)

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Broom o' the Cowdenknowes (Ballad Version)

There was a troop o' merry gentlemen,
Cam' ridin' between twa knowes,
An' there heard the voice o' a fair bonnie lass,
In the valley, milkin' her yowes.

There's yin o' them has lighted aff his horse,
An' tied it tae a tree,
An' he has gane tae yon yowe-bucht,
Tae see what it might be.
   Singin', "O, the broom , the bonnie, bonnie broom,
   The broom o' the Cowdenknowes;
   Fain wad I be in the nairth country,
   Tendin' my faither's yowes."

He's ta'en her by her milk-white hand,
An' by her green gown-sleeve,
An' led her intae a misty bough,
An' speired o' her nae leave.

Sayin, "I've been nairth, an' I've south,
An' I've ridden o'er the downs,
But the bonniest lass that e'er I've seen
Is right here in Cowdenknowes."
   O, the broom...

When fifteen weeks had past an' gane,
Fu' fifteen weeks an' three,
This maid grew thick aboot the waist,
An' she longed for his twinklin' ee.

It fell on a day, on a bonnie simmer's day,
As she wauked the hills sae high,
Anither troop o' fine gentlemen
Cam' ridin' o'er the lea.
   Singin', O, the broom...

Yin o' them, he stopped an' he said,
"Wha got the babe by thee?"
Weel, first she blushed, but syne she said,
"I hae a fine man at hame."

"Oh, ye lie, ye lie, my bonnie bonnie may!
Aloud I hear ye lie!
Dinna ye mind the bonnie simmer nicht
I lay in the yowe-bucht wi' thee?"
   O, the broom...

He's lighted aff his milk-white steed,
An' set this fair maid on,
"Noo ca' your herds, good lady," he said;
"Ye'll ne'er see them again.

"For I am the laird o' Knottingham,
Wi' fifty ploos an' three,
An' let your faither cam' after your sheep,
For tonight my bride ye'll be."
   Singin', O, the broom...


Child #217

This is the only ballad version I have heard of this song.
(The lyric text, which is sung to the same tune, is incredibly
common. Ewan MacColl sings another ballad text on "The English
and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume III," but it uses a
different stanza structure). This is very loosely the version
sung by Dan and Roxanne Keding on Wisconsin Public Radio's
"Simply Folk Sampler," but Jeff Cahill also interpolates some
phrases, and I collated the result with Child's "A" text
to bring back the Scottishness of the original.

For a completely different ballad text for this well-known
and beloved tune, see the "B" text of Child 95. Although
clearly a version of that ballad ("The Maid Freed from the
Gallows," best known in America as "Hangman, Hangman,"),
it has taken over the burden -- and apparently the music --
of "Broom o' the Cowdenknowes."   RW

aboot: about
aff: off
anither: another
ca': call
cam': came
dinna: do not
fu': full
gane: gone
hae: have
hame: home
intae: into
laird: landowner
may: maid
nairth: north
noo: now
ploos: plows
sae: so
simmer: summer
speired: asked
syne: then
ta'en: taken
tae: to
twa: two
wad: would
wauked: walked
wha: who
yin: one
yowe: ewe
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