Lyrics

Johnny got up on a May mornin'
Called for water to wash his hands
Says "Gie loose tae me my twa grey dugs
That lie in iron bands - bands
That lie in iron bands"

Johnny's mother she heard o' this
Her hands for dool she wrang
Sayin' "Johnny for your venison
Tae the greenwood dinnae gang - gang
Tae the greenwood dinnae gang"

But Johnny has ta'en his guid bend bow
His arrows one by one
And he's awa' tae the greenwood gane
Tae ding the dun deer doon - doon
Tae ding the dun deer doon

Noo Johnny shot and the dun deer leapt
And he wounded her in the side
And there between the water and the woods
The grey hounds laid her pride - her pride
The grey hounds laid her pride

They ate so much o' the venison
They drank so much o' the blood
That Johnny and his twa grey dugs
Fell asleep as though were deid - were deid
Fell asleep as though were deid

Then by there cam' a silly auld man
An ill death may he dee
For he's awa' tae Esslemont
The seven foresters for tae see - tae see
The foresters for tae see

As I cam' in by Monymusk
Doon among yon scruggs
Well there I spied the bonniest youth
Lyin' sleepin' atween twa dugs - twa dugs
Lyin' sleepin' atween twa dugs

The buttons that were upon his sleeve
Were o' the gowd sae guid
And the twa grey hounds that he lay between
Their mouths were dyed wi' blood - wi' blood
Their mouths were dyed wi' blood

Then up and jumps the first forester
He was captain o' them a'
Sayin "If that be Jock o' Braidislee
Unto him we'll draw - we'll draw
Unto him we'll draw"

The first shot that the foresters fired
It hit Johnny on the knee
And the second shot that the foresters fired
His heart's blood blint his e'e - his e'e
His heart's blood blint his e'e

Then up jumps Johnny fae oot o' his sleep
And an angry man was he
Sayin "Ye micht have woken me fae my sleep
Ere my heart's blood blint my e'e - my e'e
Ere my heart's blood blint my e'e"

But he's rested his back against an oak
His fit upon a stane
And he has fired at the seven o' them
He's killed them a' but ane - but ane
He's killed them a' but ane

He's broken four o' that one's ribs
His airm and his collar bane
And he has set him upon his horse
Wi' the tidings sent him hame - hame
Wi' the tidings sent him hame

But Johnny's guid bend bow is broke
His twa grey dugs are slain
And his body lies in Monymusk
His huntin' days are dane - are dane
His huntin' days are dane

The place names mentioned in this version of the ballad, Monymusk and Esslemont, suggest that it comes from Aberdeenshire although the two locations are about 30 miles apart. There is a ruined castle at Esslemont, presumably this is where the "silly auld man" went to fetch the foresters.

Another similar version places the story in Durisdeer in Dumfriesshire.

dool = grief, worry
scruggs = scrub, bushes

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