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Elphinstone Kist   Traditional Ballad, Music

The Battle Of Harlaw     by: Traditional

As I cam in by Dunidier,
And doon by Wetherha,
There were fifty thousand Hielanmen
A marching to Harlaw.

In a dree, dree, drady drumtie dree.

As I cam on and further on,
And doon and by Balquhain,
Oh, there I met Sir James the Rose,
Wi him Sir John the Graeme.

‘Oh, cam ye frae the Hielans, man?
And cam ye a the wye?
Saw ye Macdonell and his men
Come marchin frae the Skye.’

‘Oh, were ye near, and near enough?
Did ye their numbers see?
Come, tell to me, John Hielanman,
What micht there numbers be?

‘Aye, she was near and near enough,
And she their numbers saw;
There was fifty thousand Hielanmen
A marchin for Harlaw.’

‘Gin that be true,’ quo James the Rose,
‘We’ll no come meikie speed;
So we’d better cry in our merrymen,
And turn our horse’s heids.’

‘Oh no, oh no!’ quo John the Graeme,
‘That thing maun never be;
The gallant Graemes were never beat,
We’ll try what we can dee.’

As I cam on, and further on,
And doon and by Harlaw,
They fell fu close on ilka side,
Sic fun ye never saw.

They fell fu close on ilka side,
Sic fun ye never saw;
For heilan sword gaed clash for clash,
At the battle o Harlaw!

The Hielanmen wi their lang swords,
They laid on us fu sair;
And they drave back oor merrymen
Three acres breadth or mair.

Brave Forbes did to his bnther say,
‘Now, brither, dinna ye see,
They beat us back on ilka side,
And we’ll be forced to flee!’

‘Oh no, oh no, my brither dear,
That thing maun never be;
Tak ye your good sword in your hand,
And come your ways wi me.’

‘Oh no, oh no, my brither dear,
The clans they are ower strang;
And they drive back oor merrymen,
Wi swords baith sharp and lang.’

Brave Forbes to his men did say,
‘Now tak your rest awhile;
Until I to Drumminnor send
To fetch my coat of mail.’

Brave Forbes’ servant then did ride,
And his horse it didna fail;
For in twa hours and a quarter,
He brocht the coat of mail.

Then back to back the brithers twa
Gaed in amang the thrang;
And they hewed doon the Hielanmen,
Wi swords baith sharp and lang.

Macdonell he was young and stout,
Had on his coat o mail,
And he has gone out through them a,
To try his hand himsel.

The first ae stroke that Forbes struck,
Made the great Macdonell reel;
The second stroke that Forbes struck,
The great Macdonell fell

And siccan a pilleurichie,
The like ye never saw,
As was amang the Hielanmen
When they saw Macdonell fa.

And when they saw that he was dead,
They turned and ran awa;
And they buried him in Seggat’s Lan,
Some twa three miles awa.

They rode, they ran, and some did gang,
But they were o sma record;
For Forbes and his merrymen
Slew maist a by the road.

On Munonday at morning
The battle it began;
On Saturday at gloamin
Ye’d scarce tell wha had wan.

And sic a weary burying,
The like ye never saw,
As there was the Sunday after that
On the muirs doon by Harlaw.

And gin Hielan lasses speer at ye
For them that gaed awa,
Ye may tell them plain and plain enough,
They’re sleeping at Harlaw!



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