Willie o'Scales

Said Willie o'Scales, at break of day,
"The hunt's up!  I must busk and away!
Steed, good wife?  and saddle?  I trow,
Willie o'Scales is steed enow."

- Scotland's King is a hunting gone:
Willie o'Scales, he runs alone:
Knights and Nobles many a score:
Hounds full twenty tongues and more.

Through the covert the deet he sprang:
Over the heather the music rang.
Dogs and steeds well speeded they:
But Willie o'Scales, he show'd the way.

For speed of foot had Willie no peer.
He outstripp'd the horses, dogs, and deer.
He left the Nobles far behind.
He pass'd the King like a puff of wind.

At the close of day, with a greenwood bough,
Beside the deer he fann'd his brow.
And "There, my liege!" to the Monarch he said,
"Is as gallant a stag as ever lay dead.

"I count hum fleet, for a stag of ten!" -
- "And I count thee chief of my Border men.
No gallanter heart, I dare be sworn,
Ever drew the shaft or wound the horn.

"No trustier hand than thine was found
When foes to Scotland hemm'd us round.
Now swifter of foot than our fleetest deer -
We'll try thy hold upon land and gear.

"For his speed in sport, for his might in fray,
Write, "Gill's broad lands' to 'Willie, THE RAE!'
And for ever a Willie the Rae be here,
When the King comes by to hunt the deer." -

Thus spoke King William, where he stood,
The Lion of Scotland, fierce of mood.
And musing turned, and look'd again
On his Border vassal; and cross'd the plain.

Centuries long have rolled away:
The Monarch is dust, his Nobles clay:
Old lines are changed, are changing still:
But Willie the Rae is lord of Gill.

About the poem

Gill Farm, near Scales, Cumbria

Rae - has changed over the years to the spelling "Reay", and is tied in with the history of Clan MacKay.

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This version of the poem comes from "Lays and Legends of the English Lake Country", by John Pagen White, published in London by John Russell Smith and in Carlisle by G&T Coward in 1873 (more info on book)

Other Reay legends

The Reay Peerage

The Reay family crest and motto