Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs for use in Scottish schools

JOHNNIE O BREADISLIE

A gallant poacher gets his weapons and dogs ready to steal the King’s deer. His mother worries. He fights the King’s gamekeepers and beats them.

This is a very Scottish ballad in character and location. One version says it happened in Durrisdeer in Dumfriesshire, another places it in Monymusk in Aberdeenshire. Johnnie goes out to hunt the royal deer, he takes with him his two greyhounds and his bow and arrows. He is chased and wounded by the King’s Foresters. In some versions they kill him, in others he escapes.


Johnnie rose on a May mornin,

Called for water to wash his hands,

Said, “Gae lowse tae me ma twa grey dugs

That lie bound in iron bands, bands,

That lie bound in iron bands"


When Johnnie’s mother, she heard o this,

Her hands wi dule she wrang,

Says, “Johnnie, for yer venison

Tae the greenwoods dinna gang, gang,

Tae the greenwoods dinna gang”


But Johnnie has breasted his guid bent bow

And his arras one by one,

And he’s awa tae the gay greenwood

Tae ding the dun deer doon, doon

Tae ding the dun deer doon


Johnnie shot, the dun deer lap,

She was wounded in her side,

And atween the water and the wood

The grey hoonds laid her pride, her pride

The grey hoonds laid her pride


Johnnie ate o the venison,

And the dugs drank o the bleed,

And they lay doon and fell asleep

Asleep as tho' they were deid, deid

Asleep as tho' they were deid


Then by there cam a silly auld man

And a silly auld man wis he,

For he’s awa tae Monymusk

The Foresters for tae see, tae see

The Foresters for tae see


Up then spak the Chief Forester,

And an angry man wis he,

“If this be Johnnie o Breadislie,

My faith, we’ll gar him dee, dee

My faith we'll gar him dee"


"Stand fast, stand fast, my noble steed,

Stand fast and dinna flee.

Lie close, lie close, my guid greyhounds

And we will gar them dee, dee

And we will gar them dee"


Johnnie shot the six o them

And the seventh he’s wounded sair,

And he swung his heuch ower his horse’s back,

And he swore that he'd hunt mair, mair

And he swore that he'd hunt mair


Performed by Katherine Campbell.