Johnnie O Breadislie
Today we offer the most wonderful of Scottish ballads. It tells how Johnnie went out to hunt the royal deer and was chased and wounded by the King’s Foresters. One version of the ballad says it happened in Durrisdeer in Dumfriesshire, another places it in Monymusk in Aberdeenshire. In some versions Johnnie is killed, in others he escapes. But the wonder of the song is Johnnies twa grey dugs - yes a pair o grand hounds, and in the hands of a character that would have been considered below the standing of the Royal laws.
And check out the wonderful illustrations by Kate Leiper who found inspiration in the words of the song to create these works of art, she can be contacted through the Scottish Illustrators website - simply click the link.
From ane Rogue tae anither . . . I say go on . . .
Johnnie O Breadislie
Johnnie rose on a May morning,
Called for water to wash his hands,
Said, ‘Gae lowse tae me ma twa grey dugs
That lie bound in iron bands, bands,
That lie bound in iron bands.’
When Johnnie’s mother, she heard o this,
Her hands wi dule she wrang,
Says, ‘Johnnie, for yer venison
Tae the greenwoods dinna gang, gang,
Tae the greenwoods dinna gang.’
But Johnnie has breasted his guid bent bow
And his arras one by one,
And he’s awa tae the gay greenwood
Tae ding the dun deer doon.
Johnnie shot, the dun deer lap,
She was wounded in her side,
And atween the water and the wood
The deerhounds laid her pride.
Johnnie ate o the venison,
And the dugs drank o the bleed,
And they lay doon and fell asleep,
Asleep as tho they were deid.
Then by there cam a silly auld man
And a silly auld man wis he,
For he’s awa tae Monymusk
The foresters for tae see.
Up then spak the Chief Forester,
And an angry man wis he,
‘If this be Johnnie O Breadislie,
My faith, we’ll gar him dee.’
‘Stand fast, stand fast, my noble steed,
Stand fast and dinna flee.
Lie close, lie close, my guid deerhounds
And we will gar them dee.’
Johnnie shot the six of them
And the seventh he’s wounded sair,
And he swung his heuch ower his horse’s back,
And he swore that he’d hunt mair.