Page 9
after the Pentangle version


by trad
There were twa sisters sat in a bow'r;
Bin- norie, O Bin- norie!
There cam a knight to be their wooer,
By the bonnie mill dams o' Bin- norie.

He courted the eldest with glove and ring,
But he lo'ed the youngest aboon a thing.

He courted the eldest with broach and knife,
But he lo'ed the youngest aboon his life.

The eldest she was vexed sair,
And sair envìed her sister fair.

The eldest said to the youngest ane:
"Will ye go and watch our father's ships come in?"

She 's taken her by the lily hand,
And led her down to the river-strand.

The youngest stood upon a stane,
The eldest cam and push'd her in.

She took her by the middle sma',
and dashed her bonny back to the jaw.
'O sister, sister reach your hand!
And ye sall be heir o' half my land:

"O sister, I'll not reach out my hand,
and I will be heir to ALL your land!"

'Shame for the hand that I should take,
its twined me, and my world's make.

"O sister, reach me but your glove!
And sweet William sall be your love."

'Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove,
and sweet William shall better be my love.'

"Your cherry cheeks and your yellow hair
Garr'd me gang maiden ever mair."

Sometimes she sunk, sometimes she swam,
Until she cam to the miller's dam.

The miller's daughter was baking bread
and gaed for water as she had a need.

"O father, father, draw your dam!
There's either a mermaid or a milk-shite swan."

The miller hasted and drew his dam
and there he found a drawn'd woman.

Ye couldna see her yellow hair
for gawd and pearls that were sae rare.

Ye couldna see her middle sma'
her gowden girdle was sae braw.

Ye couldna see her lily free,
her gowden fringes were sae deep.

A famous harper passing by,
the sweet pale face he chanced to spy;

And when he looked that lady on,
he sighed and made a heavy moan.

"Sair will they be, whate'er they be,
the hearts that live to weep for thee."

He made a hard o' her breast bone,
whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.

The strings he framed of her yellow hair
their notes made sad the listening ear.

He brought it to her father's ha',
there was the court assembled a'.

He laid the hard upon a stane,
and straight away it began to play alane -

"O yonder sits my father, the king,
and yonder sits my mother, the queen;

"And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
and by him William, sweet and true."

But the last tune that the harp played then
was "Woe to my sister, false Helen!"