The Laird o' Drum

Traditional  (Child # 236)


A great Child ballad dealing with issues of caste and class, collected in 1927 by Kinloch.  I learned it from George Ward over 20 years ago, and Gordon ran across a longer version in an old book, so we integrated the two and went back to singing it a capella.  (ET)


O the Laird o' Drum is a hunting gone all in the morning early

Who should he spy but a well-favored lass a-shearing her father's barley.


"O would ye nae be a gentleman's wife and would ye nae be a lady?

And would ye nae be of some higher degree and leave your shearing alone-o?"


"O I would be a gentleman's wife, and I would be a lady

And I would be on some higher degree but I'm not a match for thee-o."


"Well if ye'll cast off your gown o' grey, put on the silk for me-o,

I'll make a vow and keep it true, and my true love you'll ever be-o."


"O my father he is a shepherd man keepin sheep on yonder hill-o

And ye may go and ask of him, for I am at his will-o."


So the Drum is to her father gone, keepin sheep on yonder hill-o

"I am come to marry your one daughter if ye'll give me your good will-o."


"Well my lassie neither read nor write.  She was never in a school-o

But well can she milk either cow or yowe and make the cheeses well-o."


"She'll shake your barn and win your corn and go to kill and mill-o

She'll saddle your steed in time of need and draw off your boots herself-o."


"I'll learn your lassie to read and write; put her myself to school-o

She shall neither need to saddle my steed nor draw off my boots herself-o."


"But who will bake your bridal bread and who will brew your ale-o?

And who will stand by the gates of the Drum to welcome your lassie home-o?"


"The baker can bake my bridal.  The brewer can brew my ale-o

And I will stand at the gates of the Drum to welcome my lassie home-o."


There were four and twenty gentlemen went in at the gates of Drum-o

But not one man has lifted his hat when the lady did come in-o.


Then up and spoke his brother John, says "You've done us all a great wrong-o

Married one far below our degree, a mock to all our kin-o."


"Now hold your tongue my brother John, what needs it thee offend-o?

I've married a wife to work and win and you've married one to spend-o."


And up and spoke his father John, a man of high degree-o

"You've married a wife on this same night and she's not a match for thee-o."


"Well, the last lady we had in this house, she was far above our degree-o/

And we dared not enter into a room till our hats were below our knee-o."


"But if you were dead and I were dead and both laid in one grave-o

Nine years down and lifted up again whose to know your dust from mine-o?"



Laird o' Drum is recorded on the album Language of the Heart