Loreena McKennitt - The English Ladye and the Knight

It was an English ladye bright,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)
And she would marry a Scottish knight,
For Love will still be lord of all.

Blithely they saw the rising sun
When he shone fair on Carlisle wall;
But they were sad ere day was done,
Though Love was still the lord of all.

Her sire gave brooch and jewel fine,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall;
Her brother gave but a flask of wine,
For ire that Love was lord of all.

For she had lands both meadow and lea,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,
For he swore her death, ere he would see
A Scottish knight the lord of all.

That wine she had not tasted well
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)
When dead, in her true love's arms, she fell,
For Love was still the lord of all!

He pierced her brother to the heart,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,
So perish all would true love part
That Love may still be lord of all!

And then he took the cross divine,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,
And died for her sake in Palestine;
So Love was still the lord of all.

Now all ye lovers, that faithful prove,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall)
Pray for their souls who died for love,
For Love shall still be lord of all!

music: Loreena McKennitt
lyrics: Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) From: An ancient muse (2006).

Source of the lyrics: the official website.

This song is based on Sir Walter Scott's poem It was an English Ladye Bright, was first published in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; Edinburgh: James Ballantyne, 1805). It is a ballad represented as sung at the wedding festivities by Albert Graeme. Scott says the residence of the Graemes was chiefly in the Debateable Land, so called because it was claimed by both Scotland and England at the time.


Loreena McKennitt's commentary on the song, taken from the transcript of an audio interview:
In the song "An English Ladye", this is a segment of a very long narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott called The Lay of the Last Minstrel and what fascinated me by this corner of this long narrative, it's situated at Carlisle Castle. Now, Carlisle Castle is built on an ancient Celtic settlement site so there was that kind of Celtic archaeological moment. But also in the story it reflects upon a sort of Romeo and Juliet story where a Scottish knight falls in love with an English woman, and follows a theme that love often transcends cultural barriers. And in this story, the brother of this English lady finds it intolerable that his sister should be in love with a Scottish knight and he murders his sister. The Scottish knight comes and then murders the brother and then in this depth of passionate grief, he decides to go on and fight a war for the love of this woman that died. And then in the last verse you hear that he goes off to fight this war in Palestine. And what's quite fascinating is that of course Palestine is a place that is very much in our contemporary minds and lives, and the troubles there. And I just thought it was an interesting note, you might say, where yes, this is a historical piece of literature but in actual fact, as with history, history is never really truly dead, that history is really the underpinnings of our contemporary times. And the poem also caused me to reflect on certainly one of the reasons why some people go off to war or have gone off to war.

© 2006, Quinlan Road Ltd.

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created: 11 November 2006
last modified: 25 May 2008