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Heather Ale by Robert Luis Stevenson

From the bonny bells of heather

They brewed a drink long-syne,

Was sweeter far then honey,

Was stronger far than wine.

They brewed it and they drank it,

And lay in a blessed swound

For days and days together

In their dwellings underground.

There rose a king in Scotland,

A fell man to his foes,

He smote the Picts in battle,

He hunted them like roes.

Over miles of the red mountain

He hunted as they fled,

And strewed the dwarfish bodies

Of the dying and the dead.

Summer came in the country,

Red was the heather bell;

But the manner of the brewing

Was none alive to tell.

In graves that were like childrens

On many a mountain head,

The Brewsters of the Heather

Lay numbered with the dead.

The king in the red moorland

Rode on a summers day;

And the bees hummed, and the curlews

Cried beside the way.

The king rode, and was angry,

Black was his brow and pale,

To rule in a land of heather

And lack the Heather Ale.

It fortuned that his vassals,

Riding free on the heath,

Came on a stone that was fallen

And vermin hid beneath.

Rudely plucked from their hiding,

Never a word they spoke;

A son and his aged father

Last of the dwarfish folk.

The king sat high on his charger,

He looked on the little men;

And the dwarfish and swarthy couple

Looked at the king again.

Down by the shore he had them;

And there on the giddy brink

I will give you life, ye vermin,


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