“Sir Cawline”


Sir Cawline falls ill for love of the king's daughter; she attends him. He desires to prove himself worthy of her; she sends him to vanquish the elvish king. He then defeats a giant threatening to wed her, and survives a lion attack before marrying her.


The only copy of this that Child accepted as real is that in the Percy manuscript (which Percy thoroughly corrupted), though Child prints two texts ("Sir Colin" and "King Malcolm and Sir Colvin," from the Harris ms. and Buchan respectively) in an appendix.

Percy's modifications to the text are so thorough that the 210 lines of the Percy manuscript are made into 392 lines in his text.

Based on Child's notes, it would seem that this song was never traditional as we would define the term; all the later versions were derived from the literary text as reworked by Percy. Bronson, however, pointed out that the Harris version *was* found in tradition, even if the text was influenced by Percy (Bronson adds that the result is in many ways simpler and superior to the Percy text; it also has a different ending). It seems that there were folk revivals before The Folk Revival. - RBW


  1. Child 61, "Sir Cawline" (3 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
  2. Bronson 61, "Sir Cawline" (2 versions)
  3. Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 61-81, "Sir Cauline" (1 text)
  4. OBB 3, "Sir Cawline" (1 text)
  5. DT 61, SIRCAWL*
  6. Roud #479
  7. BI, C061


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1765 (Percy)
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Aber))