Summary of Lord Ullin’s Daughter (Stanza 1-14)

The poem consists of 13 stanzas. Each of these stanzas is again made up of 4 lines. Hence, the entire poem consists of 52 lines in total.

1st stanza:

A Chieftain to the Highlands bound,

Cries, ‘Boatman, do not tarry;

And I’ll give thee a silver pound

To row us o’er the ferry.’

In this stanza, the poet describes how a Scottish chieftain was on his way to the Highlands by way of water, and he told the boatman that he would give him a pound to cross the lake without any delay.

2nd stanza:

'Now who be ye would cross Lochgyle, 
This dark and stormy water?' 
'Oh! I'm the chief of Ulva's isle, 
And this Lord Ullin's daughter.

In this stanza, the boatman asks who it is that wants to cross the Lochgyle Lake on such a stormy day. In reply, the chieftain identifies himself as the ruler of Ulva and his lady companion as the daughter of one Lord Ullin, the chieftain of a neighbouring isle.

3rd stanza:

'And fast before her father's men 
Three days we've fled together, 
For should he find us in the glen, 
My blood would stain the heather.

In this stanza, the Chieftain of Ulva tells the boatman that he and his lady love have been fleeing for the past three days from Lord Ullin’s men because they would surely kill the Lord of Ulva if they found him with Lord Ullin’s daughter.

4th stanza:

'His horsemen hard behind us ride; 
Should they our steps discover, 
Then who will cheer my bonny bride 
When they have slain her lover?'

In this stanza, the Chieftain of Ulva continues to tell the boatman that Lord Ullin’s horsemen have been chasing him and his lady love. He then asks the boatman who would cheer his bride once he had been killed after Lord Ullin discovers them journeying together.

5th stanza:

Out spoke the hardy Highland wight: 
'I'll go, my chief - I'm ready: 
It is not for your silver bright, 
But for your winsome lady.

In this stanza, the poet describes the boatman as a hardy lad who readily agrees to take the Chief of Ulva across the lake not for his offer of money but at the thought of his innocent companion.

6th stanza:

'And by my word, the bonny bird 
In danger shall not tarry: 
So, though the waves are raging white, 
I'll row you o'er the ferry.'

In this stanza, the boatman assures the Chief of Ulva that his lovely bride will not spend another moment in the dangerous situation they are in. Even though the water is flowing so fast that white froth is rising to its surface, the boatman would row them across the lake.

7th stanza:

By this the storm grew loud apace, 
The water-wraith was shrieking; 
And in the scowl of heaven each face 
Grew dark as they were speaking.

In this stanza, the poet says that the thunder and lightning grew ever stronger, and it seemed that the mythical water wraith was shrieking as a signal that everyone on the lake would die soon. The poet imagines that the sky itself is scowling, and as a result, each man’s face was becoming more and more anxiety-stricken.

8th stanza:

But still, as wilder blew the wind, 
And as the night grew drearer, 
Adown the glen rode armed men- 
Their trampling sounded nearer.

In this stanza, the poet describes how the wind kept blowing at faster and faster speeds, and the night got darker and darker. At this time, Lord Ullin’s horsemen could be heard approaching the lake with all their weaponry intact.

9th stanza:

'Oh! Haste thee, haste!' the lady cries, 
'Though tempests round us gather; 
I'll meet the raging of the skies, 
But not an angry father.'

In this stanza, we hear Lord Ullin’s daughter speaking for the first time. She tells the boatman to hurry on his way even though their surroundings were getting stormier every minute, for she could bear to face the wrath of the sky but not that of her own father.

10th stanza:

The boat has left a stormy land, 
A stormy sea before her- 
When oh! Too strong for human hand, 
The tempest gathered o'er her.

In this stanza, the poet says that while the land had been an unsafe place for the Chief of Ulva and his lady love, the sea was none too safe for them either. As the storm became more terrifying, it was proving more difficult for the boatman to control his vessel.

11th stanza:

And still they rowed amidst the roar 
Of waters fast prevailing; 
Lord Ullin reached that fatal shore- 
His wrath was changed to wailing.

In this stanza, the poet describes how both the sky and the water roared, but the boat stayed on its path. At this moment, Lord Ullin reached the shore of the lake, and his anger transformed into lament.

12th stanza:

For sore dismayed, through storm and shade, 
His child he did discover; 
One lovely hand she stretched for aid, 
And one was round her lover.

In this stanza, Lord Ullin looks hard through the darkness and the storm to see his daughter with one hand stretched out to as if to ask for help and the other holding onto her lover – the Chief of Ulva.

13th stanza:

'Come back! Come back!' he cried in grief, 
'Across this stormy water; 
And I'll forgive your Highland chief, 
My daughter!- oh, my daughter!'

In this stanza, Lord Ullin begs his daughter to return to shore and promises to forgive her lover for taking her away from him. It is thus clear that his daughter is the most important thing to him in his life.

14th stanza:
'Twas vain: the loud waves lashed the shore, 
Return or aid preventing; 
The waters wild went o'er his child, 
And he was left lamenting.

In this stanza, the poet says that it was now impossible for the boat to return or to get any help from anyone since the waves were crashing against the shore. Lord Ullin’s daughter was drowned, and he was filled with remorse.

Suggested Reading: Summary of Lord Ullin’s Daughter in Hindi

Updated by Anjali Roongta on 11th April 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions

The theme of the poem 'Lord Ullin's Daughter' is that of medieval romance, where Lord Ullin's daughter and the chieftain elope and have to cross a stormy sea. From love, fear, and hatred to tragedy, the poem has it all in terms of themes.

'Lord Ullin's Daughter' is a ballad because it is meant to be sung. It has simple stanzas and a refrain.

Lord Ullin was angry as his daughter had eloped with the chieftain, and he did not approve of the match. However, he had never wished death upon his daughter.
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