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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "Elphin Irving"

Elphin Irving

“The youth and his sister grew in stature and in beauty. The brent bright brow, the clear blue eye, and frank and blithe deportment of the former gave him some influence among the young women of the valley; while the latter was no less the admiration of the young men, and at fair and dance, and at bridal, happy was he who touched but her hand, or received the benediction of her eye. Like all other Scottish beauties, she was the theme of many a song; and while tradition is yet busy with the singular history of her brother, song has taken all the care that rustic minstrelsy can of the gentleness of her spirit and the charms of her person.”

“Now I vow,” exclaimed a wandering piper, “by mine own honoured instrument, and by all other instruments that ever yielded music for the joy and delight of mankind, that there are more bonnie songs made about fair Phemie Irving than about all other dames of Annandale, and many of them are both high and bonnie. A proud lass maun she be if her spirit hears; and men say the dust lies not insensible of beautiful verse; for her charms are breathed through a thousand sweet lips, and no further gone than yestermorn I heard a lass singing on a green hillside what I shall not readily forget. If ye like to listen, ye shall judge; and it will not stay the story long, nor mar it much, for it is short, and about Phemie Irving.” And, accordingly, he chanted the following rude verses, not unaccompanied by his honoured instrument, as he called his pipe, which chimed in with great effect, and gave richness to a voice which felt better than it could express:—


Gay is thy glen, Corrie,

With all thy groves flowering;

Green is thy glen, Corrie,

When July is showering;

And sweet is yon wood where

The small birds are bowering,

And there dwells the sweet one

Whom I am adoring.

Her round neck is whiter

Than winter when snowing;

Her meek voice is milder

Than Ae in its flowing;

The glad ground yields music

Where she goes by the river;

One kind glance would charm me

For ever and ever.

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