During the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, a young lady,
of great personal attractions and numerous accomplishments, named Helen
Irving, daughter of Irving of Kirkconnel, in Annandale, was betrothed to
Adam Fleming de Kirkpatrick, a Young gentleman of fortune in the
neighbourhood. Walking with her lover on the banks of the Kirtle, she was
slain by a shot which had been aimed at Fleming by a disappointed rival.
The melancholy history has been made the theme of three different ballads,
two of these being old. The present ballad, by Mr. Mayne, was inserted by
Sir Walter Scott in the Edinburgh Annual Register of 1815
I wish I were where Helen lies, Through
Heaven forbids my wrath to swell,
For night and day on me she cries; I curse the hand by
which she fell-
And, like an angel, to the skies The fiend who made my heaven
Still seems to beckon me! And tore my
love from me!
For me she lived, for me she sigh’d For if, when all the
For me she wish’d to be a bride; Oh! If on earth
ther’s aught divine,
For me in life’s sweet morn she died My Helen! All these
charms were thine,
On fair Kirkconnel-Lee! They
centred all in thee!
Where Kirtle waters gently wind,
Ah! What avails it that, amain,
As Helen on my arm reclined, I clove the
assassin’s head in twain?
A rival with a ruthless mind No peace of
mind, my Helen slain,
Took deadly aim at me. No
resting-place for me!
My love, to disappoint the foe, I see her spirit in the air-
Rush’d in between me and the blow; I hear the shriek of
And now her corse is lying low, When murder laid her bosom
On fair Kirkconnel-Lee! On fair
Oh! When I’m sleeping in my grave,
And o’er my head the rank weeds wave,
May He who life and spirit gave
Unite my love and me!
Then from this world of doubts and sighs,
My soul on wings of peace shall rise,
And, joining Helen in the skies,
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