Robin Redbriest's Testament 1. Gude day now, bonny Robin, How lang have you been here? O I have been bird about this bush, This mair then twenty year! But now I am the sickest bird, That ever sat on brier; And I wad make my testament, Goodman, if ye wad hear. Gar tak this bonny neb o' mine, That picks upon the corn; And gie't to the Duke of Hamilton To be a hunting-horn. Gar tak these bonny feathers o' mine, The feathers o' my neb; And gie to the Lady o' Hamilton To fill a feather-bed. Gar tak this gude right-leg o' mine, And mend the brig o' Tay; It will be a post, and pillar gude; It will neither bow nor----- And tak this other leg o' mine, And mend the brig o' Weir! It will be a post and pillar gude; It'll neither bow nor steer. Gar tak these bonny feathers o' mine, The feathers o' my tail; And gie to the lads o' Hamilton To be a barn-flail. And tak these bonny feathers o' mine, The feathers o' my breast; And gie to ony bonny lad That'll bring to me a priest. Now in there came my Lady Wren, With mony a sigh and groan; O what care I for a' the lads, If my wee lad be gone? Then Robin turn'd him round about, E'en like a little king; Go, pack ye out at my chamber-door, Ye little cutty quean. 2. Oh, Robin, Robin, How long have you been here? I hae dwelt on this burn side For three-and-thirty year; But now I'm turning auld, And my day is drawing near, And I will make my testament, And that you a' shall hear. If I was a man, as I am but a robin, I'd keep twa loves where I keep but ane; But one will not do, the other may rue, And I'd aye keep two strings to my own bow. 3. As I cam' in by yon sea stran', And doon the water sae wearie, And there I saw him little Robin, Was sittin' on a breerie. Fadle dadle didirie dan, Finkim dinkim dearie. Fadle dadle didirie dan, Robin sick and wearie. [Two lines wanting] It's I wad mak' my test'ment here, Guidman, gin ye wad hear me. Fadle dadle, etc. It's ye tak' aff my bonnie neb, That used to pickle the corn, And ye gie it to some bonnie boy, To be a sounding horn. Fadle dadle, etc. Ye tak' aff my bonnie head, It is sae bonnie and sma', And ye gie't the Queen and her Maries To be a tossing ba'. Fadle dadle, etc. And ye tak' aff my bonnie wings, That used to flap sae wide, And ye hae them to Marykirk, To cover the sunny side. Fadle dadle, etc. Ye tak' aff my bonnie legs, They are sae bonnie and trig, And ye hae them to the wan water, To be stannerts to the brig. Fadle dadle, etc. And syne ye yoke your ten owsen, And trail me to the hill, And ye tak' oot my sma' thairms, Lat the birdies get a fill. Fadle dadle, etc. 4. Ye will tak' my bonnie nib, That eest to pickle the corn, And gie it to yon little herd, To be a tootin' horn. Singin' Feedle eedle inkin tinkin, Feedle eedle inkin teerie, Hedrie tedrie hedrie tang, Robin sick and wearie. Ye will tak' my twa bonnie e'en [sic] That eest to blink sae bricht, And gie them to yon sewster lass, To save her o' candle licht. Singin' Feedle eedle etc. And ye will tak' my twa bonnie wings, That eest to spread sae wide, And ye'll hae them to St Mary's kirk, To cover her sunny side. Singin' Feedle eedle, etc. And ye will tak' my twa bonnie legs, That eest to walk sae trig, And ye'll hae them to yon burn bank For pillars to the brig. Singin' Feedle eedle, etc. And ye will tak' my bonnie tail, That eest to cock sae fine, And ye'll gie it to yon bonnie bride, To be her weddin' goon. Singin' Feedle eedle, etc. Ye will tak' your ten owsen, And trail me to the hill, And pairt sma' and sair a', That hungry may get their fill. Singin' Feedle eedle, etc. When Robin had his test'ment made, He had nae mair to say; By cam' a greedy gled, And snappit him away. Singin' Feedle eedle, etc. 5. Robin was the sickest bird That ever yet did fly; And he would have his testament made, Before that he should die. And sing Fiddly linkum dinkum dinkum, Fiddly linkum dearie; Sing Hitherie titherie tando, Robin's sick and weary. Ye'll tak' my bonnie e'enikies, That showed me a' the licht, And ye'll gie them to some sewster dame, To hain her candle licht. And sing Fiddly linkum, etc. Ye'll tak' my bonnie nibbikie, That pickit a' the corn, Ye'll gie it to some aul' guidman, To be a tootin' horn And sing Fiddly linkum, etc. Ye'll tak' my bonnie wingikies, They're o' the purple broon, And ye'll gie them to some sewster dame, To mak' a bridal goon. And sing Fiddly linkum, etc. Ye'll tak' my bonnie leggikies, That are sae neat and trig, And ye'll gie them to some mason lad For arches to a brig. And sing Fiddly linkum, etc. When Robin had his testament made, And ready for to die, By cam' a greedy gled, And fuppit him away. And sing Fiddly linkum, etc. 6. Ye'll tak' my little nibbikie, That picket a' the corn, And gie it to some aul' goodman To be a tooting horn. Fiddlum dinkum dinkum dinkum, Fiddum dinkum dearie, Hitheray titheray tae, Robin sick-a-weary. Ye'll tak' my little wingikies That eest tae flap sae wide, And gie them to St Mary's kirk, To hap the sunny side. Fiddlum dinkum, etc. ____________________________________________________ (1) from Herd, II.166. With music in Chambers SSPB (1862), 240; Chambers PRS (1847), 196 ; (1870), 38 (with note: the "Brig o' Weir" is across the river Gryfe in Renfrewshire). RC has variants: nonsense chorus added, Teetle ell ell, teetle ell ell, Teetle ell ell, teetle ell ell; Tee tee tee tee tee tee tee, Tee tee tee tee, teetle eldie. 5.4 is filled in with gae; and an extra stanza: Robin made his testament Upon a coll of hay, And by came a greedy gled, And snapt him a' away. Ford CR 141 (omits chorus); Montgomerie SNR (1946), 135 (173), with music. Moffat 50 TSNR (1933), 32, with music, has versions of st. 1,2,9,10, with the chorus "Singing, father linkum linkum, Singing, father linkum dear. O sic a bird as Robin is, Ne'er sat amang the brier." Robin's stay in the glen is "mair three thousand year." (2) Chambers PRS (1847), 196. (3) Greig FSNE cxli.1, from Tyrie parish; (4) ibid., from New Deer parish; (5) ibid., from Fyvie parish; (6) ibid., from Turriff parish. Greig posits a source common to both Herd's copy and what can be called "the Buchan copy", predating both by a respectable number of years; Herd only selected one of several different copies. The presumptive Buchan ancestor would be closer to our version (2), with the ending of (3). The tune, says G., is Dorian, and different to that given in Chambers, SSPB. Peter Buchan (Ancient Ballads and Songs, 1828) has a somewhat redone version (here from 1875 reprint, 265-7): Robin rais'd him frae the earth, And mounted on a tree; O for a clerk to write my will, Some time afore I die! I've biggit on yon bonny burn bank Mair than three thousand yearie; And fain wou'd I my tesment make, If my lanlord wou'd hear me. Say on, say on, my bonny bird, An' see what ye will lea' me; For sic a bird as you, Robin, Sat never on the brierie. I lea' to you my bonny cap, That sits upo' my head; I'll lea' it to yoursell, my lord, To drink your wine sae red. I'll lea' to you my harnpan, It is baith lang and sma'; I'll lea' it to yoursell, my lord, To drink your wine witha'. I'll lea' to you my bonny nib, That used to stue the corn; I'll lea' it to yoursell, my lord, To be a touting horn. I'll lea' to you my guid twa een, That are like crystal stane; They will shaw light in a lady's bower, When the light o' the day is dane. I'll lea' to you my twa ribs, Which are baith lang and sma'; I'll lea' them to yoursell, my lord, For kipples to your ha'. I'll lea' to you my tee leg, Upo' the water o' Wearie; It will be posts and pillars to you, And last this hunner yearie. I'll lea' to you my tither leg, Upo' the water o' Tay; It will be posts and pillars to you, And last for ever and aye. Ye'll yoke five score o' owsen wanes, And hae me to the hill; And see ye deal my inmates well, And gie the poor their fill. Poor Robin has his tesment made, Upon a stack o' hay; But by it came the greedy glade, Pu'd Robin quite away. Then forth it came the weary wren, Making a heavy moan; Says, Every lady has her lord, But my gude lord is gone. Chorus: Sing, Father, link ye, hink ye, dink, Sing, Father, linkum dearie; Sic a bird as you, Robin, Sat never on the brierie. MS
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