Poems founded on the Affections: Ellen Irwin; or, The Braes of Kirtle. William Wordsworth – 1800


Fair Ellen Irwin, when she sate
Upon the Braes of Kirtle,
Was lovely as a Grecian Maid
Adorn’d with wreaths of myrtle.

Young Adam Bruce beside her lay, 
And there did they beguile the day
With love and gentle speeches,
Beneath the budding beeches.

From many Knights and many Squires
The Bruce had been selected,
And Gordon, fairest of them all,
By Ellen was rejected.
Sad tidings to that noble Youth!
For it may be proclaim’d with truth,
If Bruce hath lov’d sincerely,
The Gordon loves as dearly.

But what is Gordon’s beauteous face?
And what are Gordon’s crosses
To them who sit by Kirtle’s Braes
Upon the verdant mosses?
Alas that ever he was born!
The Gordon, couch’d behind a thorn,
Sees them and their caressing,
Beholds them bless’d and blessing.

Proud Gordon cannot bear the thoughts
That through his brain are travelling,
And, starting up, to Bruce’s heart
He launch’d a deadly jav’lin!
Fair Ellen saw it when it came,
And, stepping forth to meet the same,
Did with her body cover
The Youth her chosen lover.

And, falling into Bruce’s arms,
Thus died the beauteous Ellen,
Thus from the heart of her true-love
The mortal spear repelling.
And Bruce, as soon as he had slain
The Gordon, sail’d away to Spain,
And fought with rage incessant
Against the Moorish Crescent.

But many days and many months,
And many years ensuing,
This wretched Knight did vainly seek
The death that he was wooing:
So coming back across the wave,
Without a groan on Ellen’s grave
His body he extended,
And there his sorrow ended.

Now ye who willingly have heard
The tale I have been telling,
May in Kirkonnel church-yard view
The grave of lovely Ellen:
By Ellen’s side the Bruce is laid,
And, for the stone upon his head,
May no rude hand deface it,
And its forlorn Hic jacet.

Poet's Corner

Like so many, my first contact with poetry was at school. In my teens I tried my hand at poetry and found that I rather enjoyed it. As a musician, poetry enabled me to write songs - really cool to be a teenager and strumming out your own songs (badly in my case) on the guitar. I decided to build this site alongside a corresponding YouTube channel (Poets' Corner) and include both a narrated version of each poem along with the printed version. Having always loved (and many times visited) The Lake District in northwest England it seemed only right to start with Wiliam Wordsworth and, once I've created a significant body of his work, I'll start working on other poets.

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