1. Geordie

From the recording Two To Get Ready

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traditional, revised by Robert Burns (358)

Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: lead vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither-Vaughan: vocals, fiddle

…there are two distinct flavors of this ballad… “Georgy”, a (blander) flavor that takes place in London where a fair maid laments for her deer-thieving Georgy. The other (heartier) flavor takes place in Scotland where (according to George Kinloch, “Ancient Scottish Ballads”, 1827) George Gordon, fourth Earl of Huntly, is blamed for the killing of Sir Charlie Hay, and is taken prisoner and ransomed. Our version (from The Complete Works Of Robert Burns) sees the Lady Gordon ride to Edinburgh with a contingent of Gordons ready to spill blood for the life of Geordie…


There was a battle in the north. The nobles there were many. And they hae kill’d Sir Charlie Hay, and they laid the wyte on Geordie. And he has written a lang letter, and sent it tae his lady – “Ye maun cum up to Enbrugh town tae see what words o’ Geordie.”

When first she look’d the letter on, she was baith red and rosy. She had na read a word but twa till she wallow’t like a lily. “Gar get to me my gude grey steed, my menzie a’ gae wi’ me. And I shall neither eat nor drink till Enbrugh town shall see me.” She has mountit her gude grey steed, her menzie a’ gaed wi’ her. And she did neither eat nor drink till Enbrugh town did see her.

And first appear’d the fatal block, and syne the aix to head him, then Geordie cam’ down the stair wi’ bands o airn upon him. Tho’ he was chain’d in fetters strang, o’ airn and steel sae heavy, there was na man in a’ the court, sae braw a man as Geordie. She’s down on her bended knee, I wat she’s pale and weary, “O pardon, pardon, noble king, and gie me back my Dearie.”

“Gar bid the headin’-man mak haste!” the king reply’d fu’ lordly. “O noble king, tak a’ that’s mine, but gie me back my Geordie.” The Gordons cam, the Gordons ran, and they were stark and steady, and aye the word amang them a’ was, “Gordons get you ready.” An aged lord at the king’s right hand says, “Noble king, but hear me – Let her tell down five thousand pound and gie her back her Dearie.” Some gae her marks, some gae her crowns, some gae her dollars many.
And she’s tell’d down five thousand pound, and gotten again her Dearie.

She’s blinkit blythe in her Geordie’s face, says, “Dear I bought thee, Geordie. But there sud been bluidy bouks on the green, or I had tint my laddie.” He’s claspit her by the middle sma’, and kissed her lips sae rosy. “The fairest flower o’ woman-kind is my sweet, bonie Lady!”