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Supernatural Ballads

The Unquiet Grave
In this ballad a dead woman expresses, from the grave, a distaste for mourning so extreme that it disturbs her eternal rest.
Read The Unquiet Grave in its original dialect.
Kemp Owyne
The maid Isabel is transformed into a monster by her stepmother and the spell can only be undone by three kisses from Kemp Owen. The hideous Isabel tempts Owen by offering, in trade for kisses, three items endowed with magically protective properties: a belt, a ring and a sword.
Read Kemp Owyne in its original dialect.
Thomas Rhymer
Historical research has proven that Thomas of Ercildoune (Earlston) in Scotland was a real person; he witnessed a deed whereby one Ptetrus de Haga obliges himself to make a certain payment to Melrose Abbey. In 1294 Thomas de Ercildoune, son and heir of Thomas Rymour of Ercildoune conveyed to a religious house his inheritance of lands. Legend tells that Thomas the Rhymer foretold the death of Alexander III of Scotland and of William Wallace's success in routing the English presence from Scotland. The ballad presented here tells how Thomas came to possess his powers.

Thomas, having found favor with the queen of Elfland, was taken with her to that country and there he remained for seven years. When the time came around when a tribute had to be paid to the underworld, and as Thomas was likely to be chosen by the devil, the elf queen returned Thomas to the world of men. As they parted, Thomas asked for some token to prove that he had spoken with the queen. She gave him the gift of prophetic powers.
Read Thomas Rhymer in its original dialect.

The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea
A nameless young man narrates this ballad about a wicked stepmother who turns him into "the laily worm", a dragon-like monster, and his sister Maisry into a mackerel. The bulk of the verse is the monster's attempt to convince his father, who has happened upon him, that he is indeed his son.
Read The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea in its original dialect.