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A poem by Frank Sidgwick

Allison Gross

Title:     Allison Gross
Author: Frank Sidgwick [More Titles by Sidgwick]

+The Text+ is that of the Jamieson-Brown MS.

+The Story+ is one of the countless variations of the French 'Beauty and the Beast.' A modern Greek tale narrates that a nereid, enamoured of a youth, and by him scorned, turned him into a snake till he should find another love as fair as she.

The feature of this ballad is that the queen of the fairies should have power to undo the evil done by a witch.


O Allison Gross, that lives in yon tow'r,
The ugliest witch i' the north country,
Has trysted me ae day up till her bow'r,
An' monny fair speech she made to me.

She stroaked my head, an' she kembed my hair,
An' she set me down saftly on her knee;
Says, 'Gin ye will be my lemman so true,
Sae monny braw things as I woud you gi'.'

She show'd me a mantle o' red scarlet,
Wi' gouden flow'rs an' fringes fine;
Says, 'Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
This goodly gift it sal be thine.'

'Awa', awa', ye ugly witch,
Haud far awa', an' lat me be;
I never will be your lemman sae true,
An' I wish I were out o' your company.'

She neist brought a sark o' the saftest silk,
Well wrought wi' pearles about the ban';
Says, 'Gin ye will be my ain true love,
This goodly gift you sal comman'.'

She show'd me a cup o' the good red gold,
Well set wi' jewls sae fair to see;
Says, 'Gin you will be my lemman sae true,
This goodly gift I will you gi'.'

'Awa', awa', ye ugly witch,
Had far awa', and lat me be!
For I woudna ance kiss your ugly mouth
For a' the gifts that you coud gi'.'

She's turn'd her right and roun' about,
An' thrice she blaw on a grass-green horn;
An' she sware by the meen and the stars abeen,
That she'd gar me rue the day I was born.

Then out has she ta'en a silver wand,
An' she's turn'd her three times roun' and roun';
She's mutter'd sich words till my strength it fail'd,
An' I fell down senceless upon the groun'.

She's turn'd me into an ugly worm,
And gard me toddle about the tree;
An' ay, on ilka Saturday's night,
My sister Maisry came to me;

Wi' silver bason and silver kemb,
To kemb my heady upon her knee;
But or I had kiss'd her ugly mouth,
I'd rather 'a' toddled about the tree.

But as it fell out on last Hallow-even,
When the seely court was ridin' by,
The queen lighted down on a gowany bank,
Nae far frae the tree where I wont to lye.

She took me up in her milk-white han',
An' she's stroak'd me three times o'er her knee;
She chang'd me again to my ain proper shape,
And I nae mair maun toddle about the tree.

5.1: 'sark,' shirt.
12.2: 'the seely court,' _i.e._ the fairies' court.
12.3: 'gowany,' daisied.]

[The end]
Frank Sidgwick's Poem: Allison Gross