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“And what care I for your row-foot earls,
Or all the sons o' your body?
I trow they all ask leave o' me.
“For I make Honour wi' muckle mouth,
As I make Shame wi' mincin' feet, To sing wi' the priests at the market-cross,
Or run wi' the dogs in the naked street.
“ And some they give me the good red gold,
And some they give me the white money, And some they give me a clout o' meal,
For they be people o' low degree.
“And the song I sing for the counted gold
The same I sing for the white money, But best I sing for the clout o'meal
That simple people given me.”
The King cast down a silver groat,
A silver groat o' Scots money, "If I come with a poor man's dole,” he said,
“True Thomas, will ye harp to me?"
“Whenas I harp to the children small,
They press me close on either hand: , And who are you," True Thomas said,
“That you should ride while they must stand ?
“Light down, light down from your horse o' pride,
I trow ye talk too loud and hie, And I will make you a triple word,
And syne, if ye dare, ye shall 'noble me.”
He has lighted down from his horse o' pride,
And set his back against the stone. “Now guard you well,” True Thomas said,
“Ere I rax your heart from your breast-bone!
True Thomas played upon his harp,
The fairy harp that couldna' lee,
It harpit the salt tear out o' his ee.
“Oh, I see the love that I lost long syne,
I touch the hope that I may not see, And all that I did o' hidden shame,
Like little snakes they hiss at me.
“The sun is lost at noon-at noon!
The dread o' doom has grippit me. True Thomas, hide me under your cloak,
God wot, I'm little fit to dee!”
'Twas bent beneath and blue above
'Twas open field and running floodWhere, hot on heath and dyke and wall,
The high sun warmed the adder's brood.
“Lie down, lie down,” True Thomas said.
“The God shall judge when all is done; But I will bring you a better word
And lift the cloud that I laid on."
True Thomas played upon his harp,
That birled and brattled to his hand, And the next least word True Thomas made,
It garred the King take horse and brand.
“Oh, I hear the tread o' the fighting-men,
I see the sun on splent and spear! I mark the arrow outen the fern!
That flies so low and sings so clear!
“Advance my standards to that war,
And bid my good knights prick and ride; The gled shall watch as fierce a fight
As e'er was fought on the Border side!”
'Twas bent beneath and blue above,
'Twas nodding grass and naked sky, Where ringing up the wastrel wind
The eyass stooped upon the pye.
True Thomas sighed above his harp,
And turned the song on the midmost string; And the last least word True Thomas made
He harpit his dead youth back to the King.
“Now I am prince, and I do well
To love my love withouten fear; To walk wi' man in fellowship,
And breathe my horse behind the deer.
“My hounds they bay unto the death,
The buck has couched beyond the burn, My love she waits at her window
To wash my hands when I return.
“For that I live am I content
And run in the woods o' Paradise!”
'Twas nodding grass and naked sky,
'Twas blue above and bent below, Where, checked against the wastrel wind,
The red deer belled to call the doe.
True Thomas laid his harp away,
And louted low at the saddle-side; He has taken stirrup and hauden rein,
And set the King on his horse o' pride.
“Sleep ye or wake," True Thomas said,
“That sit so still, that muse so long; Sleep ye or wake ?—till the latter sleep
I trow ye'll not forget my song.
“I ha' harpit a shadow out o' the sun
To stand before your face and cry;
And over your head I ha' dusked the sky!