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The Two Sisters, from Rubert Buchanan: Ballads Stories of the Affections. From the Scandinavian (1869)

The Sisters' Revenge

[trad. Scandinavian]

Salt House sang The Sisters' Revenge, on their 2018 CD Undersong. They adapted their version from The Two Sisters in Robert Buchanan's Ballads Stories of the Affections: From the Scandinavian (ca. 1869, p. 29).

Lyrics

Rubert Buchanan: The Two Sisters Salt House sing The Sisters' Revenge

One sister to the other spake,
    The summer comes, the summer goes!
“Wilt thou, my sister, a husband take?”
    On the grave of my father the green grass grows!

One sister to the other spoke,
    The summer comes, the summer goes
“Will thou, my sister, a husband take?”
    (On) the grave of my father green grass grows

“Man shall never marry me
Till our father's death avenged be.”

“Man shall never marry me
Till father's death avenged will be.”

“How may such revenge be planned?—
We are maids, and have neither mail nor brand.”

“Rich farmers dwell along the vale;
They will lend us brands and shirts of mail.”

They doff their garb from head to heel;
Their white skins slip into skins of steel.

They dress in mail from head to heel,
Their white skins slip in rings of steel.

Slim and tall, with downcast eyes,
They blush as they fasten swords to their thighs.

Slim and tall, with downcast eyes,
They blush as they fasten swords to thighs.

Their armour in the sunshine glares
As forth they ride on jet-black mares.

Their armour in the sunshine glares
As forth they ride on jet-black mares.

They ride unto the castle great:
Dame Erland stands at the castle gate.

Lord Erland's castle stands so great
Yet stalk they forth inside the gate.

“Hail, Dame Erland!” the sisters say;
“And is Herr Erland within to-day?”

“Herr Erland is within indeed;
With his guest he drinks the wine and mead.“

Into the hall the sisters go;
Their cheeks are paler than driven snow.

The maidens in the chamber stand:
Herr Erland rises with cup in hand.

The maidens in his chamber stand,
Their cheeks grow white, their black eyes burn.

Herr Erland slaps the cushions blue:
“:Rest ye, and welcome, ye strangers two!”

“We have ridden many a mile,
We are weary, and will rest awhile.”

“Oh, tell me, have ye wives at home?
Or are ye gallants that roving roam?”

“Tell me friends, have ye wives at home?”
“No we are gallants roving roam.”

“Nor wives nor bairns have we at home,
But we are gallants that roving roam.”

“Then, by our Lady, ye shall try
Two bonnie maidens that dwell hard by.—

“Then, by our Lady, ye shall try
Two bonnie maidens, dwell hard by.”

“Two maidens with neither mother nor sire,
But with bosoms of down and eyes of fire.”

Paler, paler the maidens turn;
Their cheeks grow white, but their black eyes burn.

“If they indeed so beauteous be,
Why have they not been ta'en by thee?”

Herr Erland shrugged his shoulders up,
Laughed, and drank of a brimming cup.

“Now, by our Lady, they were won,
Were it not for a deed already done:

”Two bonnie maidens would be won
Were it not for a deed already done.

“I sought their mother to lure away,
And afterwards did their father slay!”

“I sought their mother to lure away,
And afterwards their father slayed.”

Then up they leap, those maidens fair;
Their swords are whistling in the air.

Then up they leap, those maidens fair,
Their red swords smoke with the blood of the knave.

“This for tempting our mother dear!”
Their red swords whirl, and he shrieks in fear.

“This for the death of our father brave!”
Their red swords smoke with the blood of the knave.

They have hacked him into pieces, small
As the yellow leaves that in autumn fall.

They hacked him into pieces small
As yellow leaves in autumn fall.

Then stalk they forth, and forth they fare;
They ride to a kirk, and kneel in prayer.

Fridays three they in penance pray,
They are shriven, and cast their swords away.

Fridays three their penance pay,
They have cast their swords away.