The Ballad of Janet Douglas

 

Dumbie & the Devil –The Ballad of Janet Douglas 

Janet Douglas frae the north, wha came wan day

cuidnae spake, but hir vice did make unco, orra soons.

A wutch she wisnae, thouch monie cried hir sae,

fir she tellt folk that the de’il wis hingin aroon.

She wavit her hauns an scribbit the groon,

says she, he’s bidin at the Shaws an Polloktoon.

They wir craftin dolls; he shewit all he did know

aboot clay an wax wairm an saft,

tae form pictures o’ wan that they bid woe;

stickin peens aboadie an chantin lik daft.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on, she didnae burn.

 

Daith wis whit the de’il’s crew wantit,

Aye, tae kill the Laird cause they thoucht him haird.

But the clay doll wis foon wae peens stuck in it

cause the Privy Cooncil hid bin cried.

Sir George Maxwell wis lyin abed in payne

till Dumbie gang tae find yon aim.

Guidwife Mathie says Dumbie hid it there,

screechin lik hell she wisnae tae blame

an pittin hir in jile jist wisnae fair.

Still the Baillie tuik hir oot hir hame.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

Witnesses tae the doll comin oot the lum,

though she cuidnae use her tongue;

kent that Dumbie had bid them come,

sae wis seen tae be trew in her actions.

Mair warnins o’ bad, then Mathie’s young lad

wis ta’en wae his sister, a gie green lass.

Annabel suin tellt o’ the baptisin she’d had

afore lyin abed wae a cauld black man, bold as brass.

The wutchpricker got naethin frae Mathie an crew

until Margery an Margaret confessit wae rue.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

Then the trial an the verdict wis tae hing them aw,

the executions tuik place an the corbie flew

lik Dumbie, awa tae ither places,

findin pictures an peens, uncoverin suin

anither dizzen wutches; but the Cooncil hid enouch.

Tae Stirlin Tolbuith Janet wis ta’en,

saw mair wutches bairns an she suin guessit,

that ootside the jile they wir playin,

tellin the baillie she kent they’d confessit

that their mithers an faithers wir freens o’ the de’il.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

The baillie releasit hir when he heard hir say,

she wis worrit fir their blackenit souls.

He roundit them up that very day

ignorin the stushie o’ upcasts an yowls.

Then the laird o’ Barloch nearby, loast his sons

an Dumbie made mair o’ hir signs

that there wir wutches still tae find.

Suin they wir lockit up fir fyve lang muins;

yon an their warlocks were caught in a bind,

an Dumbie hid gang richt suin.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

She got tae a place cried Dumbarton

an mair wummen were quickly ta’en.

Aye, then ye cin guess whit did happen.

The wutchpricker wis blithely makin,

his trade by spierin an stabbin,

aboot de’ils and pacts, he said it wis facts.

Suin he had them aw greetin an gabbin

an whit they tellt spellt daith fir them aw.

But Dumbie wisnae throuch,

still claimin hir warnins spake trew.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

But naebodie wis sure o’ hir stories o’ hell

wae hir spae that had broucht her sic fame.

She seemit sae much lik a wutch hersel,

so they lockit hir up again.

They scourgit Dumbie throuch Edinburgh’s streets

before lockin hir up in the jile.

But try as they might, hir words

when she tellt o’ the folk frae that place,

still gied them aw  sic fricht.

Suin tae Castlehill the baillies made haste.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn

But still an on; she didnae burn.

 

Some lairds an ladies she says,

were makin their deals wae the de’il.

She wis wantin them in court that day

tae repeat the Lord’s prayer wae ill,

sayin, ‘thou wart’ instead o’ ‘thou art.’

Nae part did they want tae play,

an the lawyers, the judge, the baillie,

decidit tae send Dumbie away.

Oan a ship she’d be gang raither than hang

fir nae evidence cuid they find.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn,

but still an on; she didnae burn.

 

There wis naethin tae hear,

nae maitter them spierin her mind.

Nane covenants did Dumbie fear,

frae de’ils wae cloven feet like a hind.

But Janet Douglas wis bound fir the plantin,

banishit tae faraway shores lik a loon

an niver tae Scotland agin returnin.

So it tuik time till a ship wis foon,

cause langbye, sailors wir aye niver kind

wae wummin or wutches aroon.

Wae the secund sicht Janet did warn,

but still an on; she didnae burn.

 

Jacqueline Smith

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