Clerk Saunders

Original Text: 
Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1882-98): II, 230 (no. 77B). PR 1181 C5 1882 Robarts Library
2    A wat a' man to bed were gone,
3Clark Sanders came to Margret's window,
4    With mony a sad sigh and groan.
5  "Are ye sleeping, Margret," he says,
6    "Or are ye waking, presentlie?
7Give me my faith and trouthe again,
8    A wat, trew-love, I gied to thee."
9  "Your faith and trouth ye's never get,
10    Nor our trew love shall never twain,
11Till ye come with me in my bower,
12    And kiss me both cheek and chin."
13  "My mouth it is full cold, Margret,
14    It has the smell now of the ground;
15And if I kiss thy comely mouth,
16    Thy life-days will not be long.
17  "Cocks are crowing a merry mid-larf,
18    I wat the wild fule boded day;
19Gie me my faith and trouthe again,
20    And let me fare me on my way."
21  "Thy faith and trouth thou shall na get,
22    Nor our trew love shall never twin,
23Till ye tell me what comes of women
24    Awat that dy's in strong traveling."
25  "Their beds are made in the heavens high,
26    Down at the foot of our good Lord's knee,
27Well set about wi gilly-flowers,
28    A wat sweet company for to see.
29  "O cocks are crowing a merry middlarf,
30    A wat the wilde foule boded day;
31The salms of Heaven will be sung,
32    And ere now I'le be misst away."
33  Up she has tain a bright long wand,
34    And she has straked her trouth thereon;
35She has given it him out at the shot-window,
36    Wi many a sad sigh and heavy groan.
37  "I thank you, Margret, I thank you, Margret,
38    And I thank you hartilie;
39Gine ever the dead come for the quick,
40    Be sure, Margret, I'll come again for thee."
41  It's hose an shoon an gound alane
42    She clame the wall and followed him,
43Untill she came to a green forest,
44    On this she lost the sight of him.
45  "Is their any room at your head, Sanders?
46    Is their any room at your feet?
47Or any room at your twa sides?
48    Whare fain, fain woud I sleep."
49  "Their is na room at my head, Margret,
50    Their is na room at my feet;
51There is room at my twa sides,
52    For ladys for to sleep.
53  "Cold meal is my covering owre,
54    But an my winding sheet;
55My bed it is full low, I say,
56    Down among the hongerey worms I sleep.
57  "Cold meal is my covering owre,
58    But an my winding sheet;
59The dew it falls na sooner down
60    Then ay it is full weet."


1] CLERK SAUNDERS exists in eight versions, one of which was recorded by David Herd in a MS. written in 1776 and first printed in Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. It tells of the slaying of Clerk Saunders, secret lover of Margaret, by one of her seven brothers. To this is added an account of the return of Saunders' ghost, adapted from the separate ballad, Sweet William's Ghost (Child, 77). This epidode is printed by Child as version B of the latter ballad. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.75-76; RPO 1996-2000.