“A Ballad written by THOMAS POYNTON, a Pauper… after he had read Drummond of Hawthornden’s History of Scotland”
The beauties I sing of my Jane,
No damsel her charms can outvie;
At wake, rural feast, or beltein,
She eclipses all others when by.
Thus when Phoebus his glory displays, 5
The lustre of stars quickly fade,
O’erwhelm’d in the glittering blaze,
To shine they must wait the dun shade.
At the quern, luaghahb, or the wheel,
Her music enraptures my ear; 10
What emotions my bosom must feel,
When with transport her sweet voice I hear!
The deeds of the mighty Fingal
‘Tis pleasure to hear her repeat;
But Crimera and Connald’s sad fall 15
To hear her lament is more sweet.
T’other day as she work’d at her wheel,
She sang of fair Eleanor’s fate,
Who fell by stern jealousy’s steel,
As on Kirtle’s smooth margin she sate. 20
Her lover to shield from the dart,
Most eagerly she interpos’d;
The arrow transpierc’d her fond heart,
The fair in his arms her eyes clos’d.
O, Fleming! how wretched thy doom, 25
Thy love to see wounded to death;
No wonder that, stretch’d on her tomb,
In grief thou surrender’st thy breath.
Yet one consolation was thine,
To soften fate’s rigid decree, 30
Thy mistress her life did resign,
A martyr to love and to thee.
Would Jenny, should I haply die
A victim to love in youth’s bloom,
Heave o’er my remains a soft sigh, 35
And shed a fond tear on my tomb?
Would she at my Coranick weep,
Transported I’d yield up my breath,
Contented I surely should sleep,
Delighted and happy in death, 40
If my bones they were earth’d in cold clay,
And my spirit in heavenly bowers,
Delighted I’d look down each day,
To see Jenny my grave shew with flowers.
Inthron’d ‘midst immortals above, 45
Transported I’d lift from my sphere,
To hear from the lips of my love,
“The dust of my Jammie lies here.”
Title Drummond of Hawthornden’s History of Scotland The Scottish poet and book collector William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649) whose prose work, The History of Scotland, from the year 1423 until the Year 1542, was first published in 1655. The text was republished several times in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
2 outvie “To outdo in a context or in rivalry; to compete successfully against” (OED).
3 beltein Alternative spelling of “beltane,” the Gaelic May Day festival, widely observed in both Scotland and Ireland.
5 Phoebus Another name for Apollo, the Greek God of the Sun (Encyclopedia Britannica).
8 dun “Of a dull or dingy brown color, esp. dull grayish brown” (OED).
9 quern “A simple, typically hand-operated, device for grinding corn, etc., consisting of two stones, the upper of which is rotated or rubbed on the lower” (OED); luaghahb [Unable to trace]
13 Fingal A Celtic warrior famous for uniting different clans to defend Scotland against invaders, widely popularized by James MacPherson’s book The Works of Ossian, Son of Fingal (1796).
15 Crimera and Connald’s [Unable to trace]
18 fair Eleanor’s fate A reference to the story of Ellen who, according to Scottish balladry, chose between two suitors only to sacrifice herself to save her lover when her spurned suitor sought revenge. The story may be grounded in historical fact, though the nature of those facts was much in dispute in the late eighteenth century (see, for example, letters sent to the GM in 1797 (vol. 81, pp. 202, 293). Drummond’s text does not appear to be a source for this story.
20 Kirtle A small river in the historical county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The tragedy is said to have unfolded at Kirkconnell Chapel, located on the bank of the Kirtle, where the lovers were supposedly buried.
23 Transpierced “To pierce through from side to side” (OED).
26 Fleming A reference to Ellen’s chosen lover, who appears as “William” or “Adam” in various ballads. He is said to have returned from successful military feats on the Continent and died on Ellen’s grave at Kirkconnell Chapel.
37 Coranick [Unable to trace]
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (July 1783), p. 607.
Edited by: Karinna Seward