The Gaberlunzie Man
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This ballad was said to have been written by James V, King of Scotland, who used to wander his kingdom in the disguise of "Gudeman of Ballengeich." Several ballads were written of his amorous exploits while in disguise.

The Gaberlunzy Man appears in a ballad sheet The Original Comic Song Book: New songs by Thomas Ramsay. It was to be sung to the tune John Highland Man (see the Bodliean Library). The Gaberlunzie Man appears in Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany in 1724.

Child includes the ballad The Gaberlunyie-Man (saying the z is a misprint) as an appendix to Child Ballad #279 The Jolly Beggar. He states the tradition that ascribes it to James V does not date earlier than the appearance of the ballad in 1724. In some versions the daughter returns to her mother with a baby in her arms, but she is, nonetheless, a fine lady "wi' men- and maid-servants at her command."

The Jolly Beggar is cited in Percy's Reliques (1767) and appears in Herd (1769). A broadside ballad The Pollitick Begger-Man was entered in the Stationers' Register March 12, 1656. It has substantially the same story, and was probably the basis for this Scottish ballad. Most of the text is in Child (see the link to other versions below).

The pauky auld carle came oer the lee,
Wi many good eens and days to me,
Saying, Goodwife, for your courtesie,
Will ye lodge a silly poor man?
The night was cauld, the carle was wat,
And down ayont the ingle he sat
My daughter's shoulders he gan to clap,
And cadgily ranted and sang.

'0 wow!' quo he, 'were I as free
As first when I saw this country,
How blyth and merry wad I be!
And I wad never think lang.'
He grew eanty, and she grew fain,
But little did her auld minny ken
What thir slee twa togither were sayn,
When wooing they were sa[e] thrang.

'And 0!' quo he, 'ann ye were as black,
As eer the crown of your dady's hat,
'T is I wad lay thee by my back,
And awa wi me thou shoud gang.'
'And 0 !' qnoth she, 'ann I were as white
As eer the snaw lay on the dike,
I'd clead me braw, and lady-like,
And awa with thee I 'd gang.'

Between the twa was made a plot;
They raise a wee before the cock,
And wyliely they shot the lock,
And fast to the beat are they gane.
Up the morn the auld wife raise,
And at her leasure pat on her claiths;
Syne to the servants bed she gaes,
To speer for the silly poor man.

She gaed to the bed where the beggar lay,
The strae was cauld, he was away;
She clapt her hands, cry'd, Waladay!
For some of oour gear will he gane.
Some ran to coffers, and some to kists,
But nought was stown that coud be mist;
She danc'd her lane, cry'd, Praise be blest,
I have lodg'd a leal poor man!

'Since nathing's awa, as we can learn,
The kirn's to kirn and milk to earn;
Gae butt the house, lass, and waken my bairn,
And bid her come quickly ben.'
The servant gade where the daughter lay,
The sheets was cauld, she was away
And fast to her goodwife can say,
She's aff with the gaberlunyie-man.

'0 fy, gar ride, and fy, gar rin,
And hast ye find these traitors agan
For she's be burnt, and be's he slain,
The wearifu gaberlunyie-man.'
Some rade upo horse, some ran a-fit,
The wife was wood and out o'er wit
She coud na gang, nor yet coud she sit,
But ay she cursd and she baud.

Mean time far hind outoer the lee,
Fou snug in a glen, where nane coud see,
The twa, with kindly sport and glee,
Cut frae a new cheese a whang.
The priving was good, it pleasd them baith,
To loe her for ay he gae her his aith;
Quo she, To leave thee, I will be laith,
My winsome gaberlunyie-man.

'0 kend my minny I were wi you,
Illfardly wad she crook her mou;
Sic a poor man she'd never trow,
After the gaberlunyie-man.'
'My dear,' quo he, 'ye'r yet oer young,
And ha na learnd the beggar's tongue,
To follow me frae town to town,
And carry the gaberlunyie on.

Wi kauk and keel, I'll win your bread,
And spindles whorles for them wha need,
Whilk is a gentil trade indeed,
To carry the gaberlunyie, O.
I'll bow my leg, and crook my knee,
And draw a black clout oer my eye;
A criple or blind they will ca me,
While we shall be merry and sing.

Additional Versions
Related Links
Music From Maver's Collection of Genuine Scottish Melodies
Words and information From The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.
Some information from Bruce Olsen.