Betsy Rowland

                                                Betsy Rowland

“Now Betsy Rowland, go play at ball.
Take yourself down to the churchyard wall.
The kitchen free for me to make bread,”
so her mithered mother, Annie, said.

So Betsy ran out the farmhouse gate,
met a woman, said she knew her fate.
Bronze bells she wore on her scarlet shawl,
stopped her at play by the churchyard wall.

“Drop a pin in yonder wishing well,
close by the church that has but one bell,
and if as it falls you see it shine,
your wish comes true sure as grapes make wine.

“Granted was mine, and yours will be, too.
Trust me,” she said, “your wish will come true.”
So Betsy obeyed and threw in her pin,
it shone in the well, her wish to win.

Rare as the horn of a unicorn,
fair as one born with hair gold as corn,
the green hill called Tirantallon Tor,
the long lost door to another shore.

Her wish to ride there on a black horse,
and so she did over grass and gorse.
She met her three brothers on the moors,
talking of hares, the great life out doors.

They watched her ride over grass and gorse.
Never seen before her splendid horse.
They returned to their own stable yard,
so to ride after her fast and hard.

Jack Rowland, the youngest of the three,
was left behind by an old oak tree.
His brothers, Giles and Ralph, far from call,
saw the woman in the scarlet shawl.

She walked out of the mist on the moor,
spoke to him of Tirantallon Tor,
said it was not here or anywhere,
but he’d find his sister Betsy there.

A green path he had not seen before,
told him to follow to find the tor.
It led him to rest in an old inn,
he supped his ale, made his tale begin.

Strong as Samson with his hair unshorn,
black as the sky when with thunder torn,
his horse rode out from the stable yard.
The wind whipped up, the rain fell hard.

He found Betsy riding round the tor,
told him she had found the long lost door.
He said: “This land’s not for us to see.
Listen now, you must come home with me.

“This is for dreams when we lie in bed.
Think of mother at home, making bread.
Here is for those who forever roam,
who seek no shelter and build no home.”

Betsy Rowland thought her brother wise.
A silver light shone in her dark eyes.
Together they rode over the moor,
sad they left behind Tirantallon Tor.

Was a merry meal they shared at home.
Betsy vowed she never more would roam.
Her brothers laughed, mother, father, too.
What she’d seen only Jack Rowland knew.


4 thoughts on “Betsy Rowland”

    1. Thanks, Pepperanne. I’m glad you like Betsy Rowland. It was inspired by what I read about a wishing well near Sefton Church, not far from where I live, here in England. If you threw a pin in the well and you could still see it when it reached the bottom, you could make a wish and it would be granted, so it was said. I wrote Betsy Rowland in the style of an old English ballad. I used the name Jack Rowland, as it is the name of an old English ballad, a variation on Childe Roland, a Scottish ballad, a line from which was quoted in King Lear: “Childe Roland to the dark tower came.” Hope you have a good week, too.

      1. Philip,

        Wow, thank you for the wonderful reply, and for sharing your inspiration. The background and history truly makes this poem all the more charming! Please take good care.

        As always warm wishes,

  1. Betsy Rowland, like Broom’s Cross and Ploughlands, two of my other recent poems, is linked to the flat farm land, near where I live, here in England. Flat farm land does not seem to inspire poets and painters as much as mountains, woods and lakes, so I thought I would write some lines about it to make it seem less neglected. I’m glad you think it is charming. Mind you take care, too.

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