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Gude Wallace

'O, for my ain king,' quo' gude Wallace, 'The rightfu' king of fair Scotland, Between me and my sovereign blude, I think I see some ill seed sawn.' Wallace out over yon river he lap, And he has lighted low down on yon plain, And he was a ware of a gay ladie, As she was at the well washing. 'What tydins, what tydins, fair lady,' he says, 'What tydins hast thou to tell unto me What tydins, what tydins, fair lady,' he says, 'What tydins hae ye in the south countrie?' 'Low down in yon wee Ostler-house There is fyfteen Englishmen, And they are seekin for gude Wallace; It's him to take, and him to hang.' 'There's nocht in my purse,' quo' gude Wallace, 'There's nocht, not even a bare pennie; But I will down to yon wee Ostler-house Thir fyfteen Englishmen to see.' And when he cam in to yon wee Ostler-house He bad benedicite be there; (The Englishmen at the table sat The wine-fac'd captain at him did stare.) 'Where was ye born, auld crookit carl, Where was ye born, - in what countrie?' 'I am a true Scot born and bred, And an auld crookit carl just sic as ye see.' 'I wad gie fyfteen shillings to onie crookit carl' To onie crookit carl just sic as ye, If ye will get me gude Wallace, For he is the man I wad very fain see.' He hit the proud captain alang the chaft blade. That never a bit o' meal he ate mair; And he sticket the rest at the table where they sat, And he left them a' lyin sprawlin there. 'Get up, get up, gudewife,' he says, 'And get to me some dinner in haste; For it will soon be three lang days Sin I a bit o' meat did taste.' The dinner was na weel readie, Nor was it on the table set, Till other fyfteen Englishmen Were a' lighted about the yett. 'Come out, come out, now gude Wallace, This is the day that thou maun die;' 'I lippen nae sae little to God,' he says, 'Altho' I be but ill wordie.' The gudewife had an auld gudeman, By gude Wallace he stiffly stood; Till ten o' the fyfteen Englishmen Before the door lay in their blude. The other five to the greenwood ran, And he hang'd these five upon a grain; And on the morn wi' his merry men a' He sat at dine in Lochmaben town.


Ralph Riach
John Cairney

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1796 and is read here by Ralph Riach.

Themes for this song

war nationalism

Selected for 23 August

In circumstances not ENTIRELY like those depicted in Mel Gibson's, 'Braveheart', William Wallace was executed on August 23rd, 1305. Before he was betrayed and captured, Wallace had led the Scots to several inspiring and ‘nation building’ victories. The myth making began long before Mel Gibson bared his backside. 'Blind Harry', writing in 1470 or so, promoted the notion that Sir William was seven feet tall. A book about Wallace was an early favourite of Robert Burns, 'pouring an early prejudice in [his] veins which will boil along there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest...'. Wallace continues to 'walk tall' in this legend-enlarging poem by the Bard whose son, Francis Wallace Burns, was born on August 18th, 1789.

Donny O'Rourke

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