THE BALLAD OF AILIE FAA

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE

(A poem of the Borderlands)

 Sir Robert has left his castle ha’, The castle of fair Holmylee,

And gone to meet his Ailie Faa, Where no one might be there to see.

He has sounded shrill his bugle horn, But not for either horse or hound;

And when the echoes away were borne, He listened for a well-known sound.

 

He hears a rustling among the leaves, Some pattering feet are drawing near;

Like autumn’s breathings among the sheaves, So sweet at eventide to hear:

His Ailie Faa, who is sweeter far Than the white rose hanging upon the tree,

Who is fairer than the fairies are That dance in moonlight on the lea.

 

Oh! there are some flowers, as if in love, Unto the oak their arms incline;

And tho’ the tree may rotten prove, They still the closer around it twine:

So has it been until this hour, And so in coming time ’twill be,

Wherever young love may hang a flower, ‘Twill think it aye ane trusty tree.

 

He has led her into a summer bower, For he was fond and she was fain,

And there with all of a lover’s power He whispered that old and fatal strain,

Which those who sing it and those who hear Have never sung and never heard,

But they have shed the bitter tear For every soft delusive word.

 

He pointed to yon castle ha’, And all its holts so green and fair;

And would not she, poor Ailie Faa, Move some day as a mistress there?

As the parched lea receives the rains, Her ears drank up the sweet melodie;

A gipsy’s blood flowed in her veins, A gipsy’s soul flashed in her eye.

 

Oh! it’s time will come and time will go, That which has been will be again;

This strange world’s ways go to and fro, This moment joy, the next is pain.

A sough has thro’ the hamlet spread, To Ailie’s ear the tidings came,

That Holmylee will shortly wed A lady fair of noble name.

 

In yon lone cot adown the Lynne A widowed mother may think it long

Since there were lightsome words within, Since she has heard blithe Ailie’s song.

A gloomy shade sits on Ailie’s brow, At times her eyes flash sudden fires,

The same she had noticed long ago, Deep flashing in her gipsy sire’s.

 

When the wind at even was low and loun, And the moon paced on in her majesty

Thro’ lazy clouds, and threw adown Her silvery light o’er turret and tree,

Then Ailie sought the green alcove, That place of fond lovers’ lone retreat,

Where she for the boon of gentle love, Had changed the meed of a deadly hate.

 

She sat upon “the red Lynne stone,” Where she between the trees might see,

By yon pale moon that shone thereon, The goodly turrets of Holmylee.

And as she felt the throbbing pains, And as she heaved the bursting sigh,

A gipsy’s blood burned in her veins, A gipsy’s soul flashed in her eye.

 

If small the body that thus was moved, So like the form that fairies wear,

It was that slenderness he loved, So tiny a thing he might not fear.

But there is an insect skims the air, Bedecked with azure and green and gold,

Whose sting is a deadlier thing by far Than dagger of yon baron bold.

 

She sat upon the red Lynne stone, The midnight sky was overcast,

The winds are out with a sullen moan, The angry Lynne is rolling past.

What then? there was no lack of light, Full fifteen windows blazing shone

Up on the castle on the height, While Ailie Faa sat there alone.

 

For there is dancing and deray In the ancient castle of Holmylee,

And barons bold and ladies gay Are holding high-jinks revelry.

Sir Robert has that day been wed, ‘Midst sounding trumpets of eclat,

And one that night will grace his bed Of nobler birth than Ailie Faa.

 

Revenge will claim its high command, And Ailie is on her feet erect,

She passes nervously her hand Between her jupe and jerkinet.

“There” lies a charm for woman’s wrong, Concealed where beats the bursting heart,

Which, ere an hour hath come and gone, Will play somewhere a fatal part.

 

Up in the hall of Holmylee Still sound the revel, the dance, and song,

And through the open doors and free There pours the gay and stately throng;

But of all the knights and barons there, The bridegroom still the foremost stood,

And she the fairest of the fair, The bride who was of noble blood.

It was when feet were tripping The mazes of the dance,

 It was when lips were sipping, The choicest wines of France,

A wild scream rose within the hall, Which pierced the roofen tree,

And in the midst was seen to fall. The Baron of Holmylee.

“To whom belongs this small stilette. By whom our host is slain?”

Between a jupe and jerkinet. That weapon long had lain.

Each on his sword his hand did lay, This way and that they ran;

But she who did the deed is away, Ho! catch her if you can.

 REFERENCE:

TITLE: Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume XXIV. (1884)

Author: Revised by Alexander Leighton

CONTIBUTOR: Callum McCormick

 

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