The Book of Old English Ballads
by George Wharton Edwards
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


With an Accompaniment of Decorative Drawings

By George Wharton Edwards

And an Introduction by Hamilton W. Mabie




Chevy Chace

King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid

King Leir and his Three Daughters

Fair Rosamond

Phillida and Corydon

Fair Margaret and Sweet William

Annan Water

The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

Barbara Allen's Cruelty

The Douglas Tragedy

Young Waters

Flodden Field

Helen of Kirkconnell

Robin Hood and Allen-a-Dale

Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne

Robin Hood's Death and Burial

The Twa Corbies

Waly, Waly, Love be Bonny

The Nut-brown Maid

The Fause Lover

The Mermaid

The Battle of Otterburn

The Lament of the Border Widow

The Banks o' Yarrow

Hugh of Lincoln

Sir Patrick Spens


Goethe, who saw so many things with such clearness of vision, brought out the charm of the popular ballad for readers of a later day in his remark that the value of these songs of the people is to be found in the fact that their motives are drawn directly from nature; and he added, that in the art of saying things compactly, uneducated men have greater skill than those who are educated. It is certainly true that no kind of verse is so completely out of the atmosphere of modern writing as the popular ballad. No other form of verse has, therefore, in so great a degree, the charm of freshness. In material, treatment, and spirit, these bat lads are set in sharp contrast with the poetry of the hour. They deal with historical events or incidents, with local traditions, with personal adventure or achievement. They are, almost without exception, entirely objective. Contemporary poetry is, on the other hand, very largely subjective; and even when it deals with events or incidents it invests them to such a degree with personal emotion and imagination, it so modifies and colours them with temperamental effects, that the resulting poem is much more a study of subjective conditions than a picture or drama of objective realities. This projection of the inward upon the outward world, in such a degree that the dividing line between the two is lost, is strikingly illustrated in Maeterlinck's plays. Nothing could be in sharper contrast, for instance, than the famous ballad of "The Hunting of the Cheviot" and Maeterlinck's "Princess Maleine." There is no atmosphere, in a strict use of the word, in the spirited and compact account of the famous contention between the Percies and the Douglases, of which Sir Philip Sidney said "that I found not my heart moved more than with a Trumpet." It is a breathless, rushing narrative of a swift succession of events, told with the most straight-forward simplicity. In the "Princess Maleine," on the other hand, the narrative is so charged with subjective feeling, the world in which the action takes place is so deeply tinged with lights that never rested on any actual landscape, that all sense of reality is lost. The play depends for its effect mainly upon atmosphere. Certain very definite impressions are produced with singular power, but there is no clear, clean stamping of occurrences on the mind. The imagination is skilfully awakened and made to do the work of observation.

The note of the popular ballad is its objectivity; it not only takes us out of doors, but it also takes us out of the individual consciousness. The manner is entirely subordinated to the matter; the poet, if there was a poet in the case, obliterates himself. What we get is a definite report of events which have taken place, not a study of a man's mind nor an account of a man's feelings. The true balladist is never introspective; he is concerned not with himself but with his story. There is no self-disclosure in his song. To the mood of Senancour and Amiel he was a stranger. Neither he nor the men to whom he recited or sang would have understood that mood. They were primarily and unreflectively absorbed in the world outside of themselves. They saw far more than they meditated; they recorded far more than they moralized. The popular ballads are, as a rule, entirely free from didacticism in any form; that is one of the main sources of their unfailing charm. They show not only a childlike curiosity about the doings of the day and the things that befall men, but a childlike indifference to moral inference and justification. The bloodier the fray the better for ballad purposes; no one feels the necessity of apology either for ruthless aggression or for useless blood-letting; the scene is reported as it was presented to the eye of the spectator, not to his moralizing faculty. He is expected to see and to sing, not to scrutinize and meditate. In those rare cases in which a moral inference is drawn, it is always so obvious and elementary that it gives the impression of having been fastened on at the end of the song, in deference to ecclesiastical rather than popular feeling.

The social and intellectual conditions which fostered self-unconsciousness,—interest in things, incidents, and adventures rather than in moods and inward experiences,—and the unmoral or non moralizing attitude towards events, fostered also that delightful naivete which contributes greatly to the charm of many of the best ballads; a naivete which often heightens the pathos, and, at times, softens it with touches of apparently unconscious humour; the naivete of the child which has in it something of the freshness of a wildflower, and yet has also a wonderful instinct for making the heart of the matter plain. This quality has almost entirely disappeared from contemporary verse among cultivated races; one must go to the peasants of remote parts of the Continent to discover even a trace of its presence. It has a real, but short-lived charm, like the freshness which shines on meadow and garden in the brief dawn which hastens on to day.

This frank, direct play of thought and feeling on an incident, or series of incidents, compensates for the absence of a more perfect art in the ballads; using the word "art" in its true sense as including complete, adequate, and beautiful handling of subject-matter, and masterly working out of its possibilities. These popular songs, so dear to the hearts of the generations on whose lips they were fashioned, and to all who care for the fresh note, the direct word, the unrestrained emotion, rarely touch the highest points of poetic achievement. Their charm lies, not in their perfection of form, but in their spontaneity, sincerity, and graphic power. They are not rivers of song, wide, deep, and swift; they are rather cool, clear springs among the hills. In the reactions against sophisticated poetry which set in from lime to time, the popular ballad—the true folk-song—has often been exalted at the expense of other forms of verse. It is idle to attempt to arrange the various forms of poetry in an order of absolute values; it is enough that each has its own quality, and, therefore, its own value. The drama, the epic, the ballad, the lyric, each strikes its note in the complete expression of human emotion and experience. Each belongs to a particular stage of development, and each has the authority and the enduring charm which attach to every authentic utterance of the spirit of man under the conditions of life.

In this wide range of human expression the ballad follows the epic as a kind of aftermath; a second and scattered harvest, springing without regularity or nurture out of a rich and unexhausted soil. The epic fastens upon some event of such commanding importance that it marks a main current of history; some story, historic, or mythologic; some incident susceptible of extended narrative treatment. It is always, in its popular form, a matter of growth it is direct, simple, free from didacticism; representing, as Aristotle says, "a single action, entire and complete." It subordinates character to action; it delights in episode and dialogue; it is content to tell the story as a story, and leave the moralization to hearers or readers. The popular ballad is so closely related to the popular epic that it may be said to reproduce its qualities and characteristics within a narrower compass, and on a smaller scale. It also is a piece of the memory of the people, or a creation of the imagination of the people; but the tradition or fact which it preserves is of local, rather than national importance. It is indifferent to nice distinctions and delicate gradations or shadings; its power springs from its directness, vigour, and simplicity. It is often entirely occupied with the narration or description of a single episode; it has no room for dialogue, but it often secures the effect of the dialogue by its unconventional freedom of phrase, and sometimes by the introduction of brief and compact charge and denial, question and reply. Sometimes the incidents upon which the ballad makers fastened, have a unity or connection with each other which hints at a complete story. The ballads which deal with Robin Hood are so numerous and so closely related that they constantly suggest, not only the possibility, but the probability of epic treatment. It is surprising that the richness of the material, and its notable illustrative quality, did not inspire some earlier Chaucer to combine the incidents in a sustained narrative. But the epic poet did not appear, and the most representative of English popular heroes remains the central figure in a series of detached episodes and adventures, preserved in a long line of disconnected ballads.

This apparent arrest, in the ballad stage, of a story which seemed destined to become an epic, naturally suggests the vexed question of the author ship of the popular ballads. They are in a very real sense the songs of the people; they make no claim to individual authorship; on the contrary, the inference of what may be called community authorship is, in many instances, irresistible. They are the product of a social condition which, so to speak, holds song of this kind in solution; of an age in which improvisation, singing, and dancing are the most natural and familiar forms of expression. They deal almost without exception with matters which belong to the community memory or imagination; they constantly reappear with variations so noticeable as to indicate free and common handling of themes of wide local interest. All this is true of the popular ballad; but all this does not decisively settle the question of authorship. What share did the community have in the making of these songs, and what share fell to individual singers?

Herder, whose conception of the origin and function of literature was so vitalizing in the general aridity of thinking about the middle of the last century, and who did even more for ballad verse in Germany than Bishop Percy did in England, laid emphasis almost exclusively on community authorship. His profound instinct for reality in all forms of art, his deep feeling for life, and the immense importance he attached to spontaneity and unconsciousness in the truest productivity made community authorship not only attractive but inevitable to him. In his pronounced reaction against the superficial ideas of literature so widely held in the Germany of his time, he espoused the conception of community authorship as the only possible explanation of the epics, ballads, and other folk-songs. In nature and popular life, or universal experience, he found the rich sources of the poetry whose charm he felt so deeply, and whose power and beauty he did so much to reveal to his contemporaries. Genius and nature are magical words with him, because they suggested such depths of being under all forms of expression; such unity of the whole being of a race in its thought, its emotion, and its action; such entire unconsciousness of self or of formulated aim, and such spontaneity of spirit and speech. The language of those times, when words had not yet been divided into nobles, middle-class, and plebeians, was, he said, the richest for poetical purposes. "Our tongue, compared with the idiom of the savage, seems adapted rather for reflection than for the senses or imagination. The rhythm of popular verse is so delicate, so rapid, so precise, that it is no easy matter to defect it with our eyes; but do not imagine it to have been equally difficult for those living populations who listened to, instead of reading it; who were accustomed to the sound of it from their infancy; who themselves sang it, and whose ear had been formed by its cadence." This conception of poetry as arising in the hearts of the people and taking form on their lips is still more definitely and strikingly expressed in two sentences, which let us into, the heart of Herder's philosophy of poetry: "Poetry in those happy days lived in the ears of the people, on the lips and in the harps of living bards; it sang of history, of the events of the day, of mysteries, miracles, and signs. It was the flower of a nation's character, language, and country; of its occupations, its prejudices, its passions, its aspirations, and its soul." In these words, at once comprehensive and vague, after the manner of Herder, we find ourselves face to face with that conception not only of popular song in all its forms, but with literature as a whole, which has revolutionized literary study in this century, and revitalized it as well. For Herder was a man of prophetic instinct; he sometimes felt more clearly than he saw; he divined where he could not reach results by analysis. He was often vague, fragmentary, and inconclusive, like all men of his type; but he had a genius for getting at the heart of things. His statements often need qualification, but he is almost always on the tight track. When he says that the great traditions, in which both the memory and the imagination of a race were engaged, and which were still living in the mouths of the people, "of themselves took on poetic form," he is using language which is too general to convey a definite impression of method, but he is probably suggesting the deepest truth with regard to these popular stories. They actually were of community origin; they actually were common property; they were given a great variety of forms by a great number of persons; the forms which have come down to us are very likely the survivors of a kind of in formal competition, which went on for years at the fireside and at the festivals of a whole country side.

Barger, whose "Lenore" is one of the most widely known of modern ballads, held the same view of the origin of popular song, and was even more definite in his confession of faith than Herder. He declared in the most uncompromising terms that all real poetry must have a popular origin; "can be and must be of the people, for that is the seal of its perfection." And he comments on the delight with which he has listened, in village street and home, to unwritten songs; the poetry which finds its way in quiet rivulets to the remotest peasant home. In like manner, Helene Vacaresco overheard the songs of the Roumanian people; hiding in the maize to catch the reaping songs; listening at spinning parties, at festivals, at death-beds, at taverns; taking the songs down from the lips of peasant women, fortune-tellers, gypsies, and all manner of humble folk who were the custodians of this vagrant community verse. We have passed so entirely out of the song-making period, and literature has become to us so exclusively the work of a professional class, that we find it difficult to imagine the intellectual and social conditions which fostered improvisation on a great scale, and trained the ear of great populations to the music of spoken poetry. It is almost impossible for us to disassociate literature from writing. There is still, however, a considerable volume of unwritten literature in the world in the form of stories, songs, proverbs, and pithy phrases; a literature handed down in large part from earlier times, but still receiving additions from contemporary men and women.

This unwritten literature is to be found, it is hardly necessary to say, almost exclusively among country people remote from towns, and whose mental attitude and community feeling reproduce, in a way, the conditions under which the English and Scotch ballads were originally composed. The Roumanian peasants sing their songs upon every occasion of domestic or local interest; and sowing and harvesting, birth, christening, marriage, the burial, these notable events in the life of the country side are all celebrated by unknown poets; or, rather, by improvisers who give definite form to sentiments, phrases, and words which are on many lips. The Russian peasant tells his stories as they were told to him; those heroic epics whose life is believed, in some cases, to date back at least a thousand years. These great popular stories form a kind of sacred inheritance bequeathed by one generation to another as a possession of the memory, and are almost entirely unrelated to the written literature of the country. Miss Hapgood tells a very interesting story of a government official, stationed on the western shore of Lake Onega, who became so absorbed in the search for this literature of the people that he followed singers and reciters from place to place, eager to learn from their lips the most widely known of these folk tales. On such an expedition of discovery he found himself, one stormy night, on an island in the lake. The hut of refuge was already full of stormbound peasants when he entered. Having made himself some tea, and spread his blanket in a vacant place, he fell asleep. He was presently awakened by a murmur of recurring sounds. Sitting up, he found the group of peasants hanging on the words of an old man, of kindly face, expressive eyes, and melodious voice, from whose lips flowed a marvellous song; grave and gay by turns, monotonous and passionate in succession; but wonderfully fresh, picturesque, and fascinating. The listener soon became aware that he was hearing, for the first time, the famous story of "Sadko, the Merchant of Novgorod." It was like being present at the birth of a piece of literature!

The fact that unwritten songs and stories still exist in great numbers among remote country-folk of our own time, and that additions are still made to them, help us to understand the probable origin of our own popular ballads, and what community authorship may really mean. To put ourselves, even in thought, in touch with the ballad-making period in English and Scotch history, we must dismiss from our minds all modern ideas of authorship; all notions of individual origination and ownership of any form of words. Professor ten Brink tells us that in the ballad-making age there was no production; there was only reproduction. There was a stock of traditions, memories, experiences, held in common by large populations, in constant use on the lips of numberless persons; told and retold in many forms, with countless changes, variations, and modifications; without conscious artistic purpose, with no sense of personal control or possession, with no constructive aim either in plot or treatment; no composition in the modern sense of the term. Such a mass of poetic material in the possession of a large community was, in a sense, fluid, and ran into a thousand forms almost without direction or premeditation. Constant use of such rich material gave a poetic turn of thought and speech to countless persons who, under other conditions, would have given no sign of the possession of the faculty of imagination.

There was not only the stimulus to the faculty which sees events and occurrences with the eyes of the imagination, but there was also constant and familiar use of the language of poetry. To speak metrically or rhythmically is no difficult matter if one is in the atmosphere or habit of verse-making; and there is nothing surprising either in the feats of memory or of improvisation performed by the minstrels and balladists of the old time. The faculty of improvising was easily developed and was very generally used by people of all classes. This facility is still possessed by rural populations, among whom songs are still composed as they are sting, each member of the company contributing a new verse or a variation, suggested by local conditions, of a well-known stanza. When to the possession of a mass of traditions and stories and of facility of improvisation is added the habit of singing and dancing, it is not difficult to reconstruct in our own thought the conditions under which popular poetry came into being, nor to understand in what sense a community can make its own songs. In the brave days when ballads were made, the rustic peoples were not mute, as they are to-day; nor sad, as they have become in so many parts of England. They sang and they danced by instinct and as an expression of social feeling. Originally the ballads were not only sung, but they gave measure to the dance; they grew from mouth to mouth in the very act of dancing; individual dancers adding verse to verse, and the frequent refrain coming in as a kind of chorus. Gesture and, to a certain extent, acting would naturally accompany so free and general an expression of community feeling. There was no poet, because all were poets. To quote Professor ten Brink once more:—

"Song and playing were cultivated by peasants, and even by freedmen and serfs. At beer-feasts the harp went from hand to hand. Herein lies the essential difference between that age and our own. The result of poetical activity was not the property and was not the production of a single person, but of the community. The work of the individual endured only as long as its delivery lasted. He gained personal distinction only as a virtuoso. The permanent elements of what he presented, the material, the ideas, even the style and metre, already existed. 'The work of the singer was only a ripple in the stream of national poetry. Who can say how much the individual contributed to it, or where in his poetical recitation memory ceased and creative impulse began! In any case the work of the individual lived on only as the ideal possession of the aggregate body of the people, and it soon lost the stamp of originality. In view of such a development of poetry, we must assume a time when the collective consciousness of a people or race is paramount in its unity; when the intellectual life of each is nourished from the same treasury of views and associations, of myths and sagas; when similar interests stir each breast; and the ethical judgment of all applies itself to the same standard. In such an age the form of poetical expression will also be common to all, necessarily solemn, earnest, and simple."

When the conditions which produced the popular ballads become clear to the imagination, their depth of rootage, not only in the community life but in the community love, becomes also clear. We under stand the charm which these old songs have for us of a later age, and the spell which they cast upon men and women who knew the secret of their birth; we understand why the minstrels of the lime, when popular poetry was in its best estate, were held in such honour, why Taillefer sang the song of Roland at the head of the advancing Normans on the day of Hastings, and why good Bishop Aldhelm, when he wanted to get the ears of his people, stood on the bridge and sang a ballad! These old songs were the flowering of the imagination of the people; they drew their life as directly from the general experience, the common memory, the universal feelings, as did the Greek dramas in those primitive times, when they were part of rustic festivity and worship. The popular ballads have passed away with the conditions which produced them. Modern poets have, in several instances, written ballads of striking picturesqueness and power, but as unlike the ballad of popular origin as the world of to-day is unlike the world in which "Chevy Chase" was first sung. These modern ballads are not necessarily better or worse than their predecessors; but they are necessarily different. It is idle to exalt the wild flower at the expense of the garden flower; each has its fragrance, its beauty, its sentiment; and the world is wide!

In the selection of the ballads which appear in this volume, no attempt has been made to follow a chronological order or to enforce a rigid principle of selection of any kind. The aim has been to bring within moderate compass a collection of these songs of the people which should fairly represent the range, the descriptive felicity, the dramatic power, and the genuine poetic feeling of a body of verse which is still, it is to be feared, unfamiliar to a large number of those to whom it would bring refreshment and delight.


Chevy Chace

God prosper long our noble king, Our liffes and safetyes all; A woefull hunting once there did In Chevy-Chace befall.

To drive the deere with hound and horne, Erle Percy took his way; The child may rue that is unborne The hunting of that day.

The stout Erle of Northumberland A vow to God did make, His pleasure in the Scottish woods Three summers days to take;

The cheefest harts in Chevy-Chace To kill and beare away: These tydings to Erle Douglas came, In Scotland where he lay.

Who sent Erie Percy present word, He wold prevent his sport; The English Erle not fearing that, Did to the woods resort,

With fifteen hundred bow-men bold, All chosen men of might, Who knew full well in time of neede To ayme their shafts arright.

The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran, To chase the fallow deere; On Munday they began to hunt, Ere day-light did appeare;

And long before high noone they had An hundred fat buckes slaine; Then having din'd, the drovyers went To rouze the deare againe.

The bow-men mustered on the hills, Well able to endure; Theire backsides all, with speciall care, That day were guarded sure.

The hounds ran swiftly through the woods, The nimble deere to take, That with their cryes the hills and dales An eccho shrill did make.

Lord Percy to the quarry went, To view the tender deere; Quoth he, "Erle Douglas promised This day to meet me heere;

"But if I thought he wold not come, Noe longer wold I stay." With that, a brave younge gentleman Thus to the Erle did say:

"Loe, yonder doth Erle Douglas come, His men in armour bright; Full twenty hundred Scottish speres, All marching in our sight.

"All men of pleasant Tivydale, Fast by the river Tweede:" "O cease your sport," Erle Percy said, "And take your bowes with speede.

"And now with me, my countrymen, Your courage forth advance; For never was there champion yett In Scotland or in France,

"That ever did on horsebacke come, But, if my hap it were, I durst encounter man for man, With him to breake a spere."

Erle Douglas on his milke-white steede, Most like a baron bold, Rode formost of his company, Whose armour shone like gold.

"Show me," sayd hee, "whose men you bee, That hunt soe boldly heere, That, without my consent, doe chase And kill my fallow-deere."

The man that first did answer make Was noble Percy hee; Who sayd, "Wee list not to declare, Nor shew whose men wee bee.

"Yet will wee spend our deerest blood, Thy cheefest harts to slay;" Then Douglas swore a solempne oathe, And thus in rage did say;

"Ere thus I will out-braved bee, One of us two shall dye: I know thee well, an erle thou art; Lord Percy, soe am I.

"But trust me, Percy, pittye it were, And great offence, to kill Any of these our guiltlesse men, For they have done no ill.

"Let thou and I the battell trye, And set our men aside." "Accurst bee he," Erle Percy sayd, "By whome this is denyed."

Then stept a gallant squier forth, Witherington was his name, Who said, "I wold not have it told To Henry our king for shame,

"That ere my captaine fought on foote, And I stood looking on: You bee two erles," sayd Witherington, "And I a squier alone.

"Ile doe the best that doe I may, While I have power to stand; While I have power to weeld my sword, Ile fight with hart and hand."

Our English archers bent their bowes, Their harts were good and trew; Att the first flight of arrowes sent, Full four-score Scots they slew.

[Yet bides Earl Douglas on the bent, As Chieftain stout and good, As valiant Captain, all unmov'd The shock he firmly stood.

His host he parted had in three, As Leader ware and try'd, And soon his spearmen on their foes Bare down on every side.

Throughout the English archery They dealt full many a wound; But still our valiant Englishmen All firmly kept their ground.

And throwing strait their bows away, They grasp'd their swords so bright: And now sharp blows, a heavy shower, On shields and helmets light.]

They clos'd full fast on everye side, Noe slacknes there was found; And many a gallant gentleman Lay gasping on the ground.

O Christ! it was a griefe to see, And likewise for to heare, The cries of men lying in their gore, And scattered here and there.

At last these two stout erles did meet, Like captaines of great might; Like lyons wood they layd on lode, And made a cruell fight.

They fought, untill they both did sweat, With swords of tempered steele; Until the blood, like drops of rain, They trickling downe did feele.

"Yeeld thee, Lord Percy," Douglas sayd "In faith I will thee bringe, Where thou shalt high advanced bee By James our Scottish king.

"Thy ransom I will freely give, And thus report of thee, Thou art the most couragious knight That ever I did see."

"Noe, Douglas," quoth Erle Percy then, "Thy proffer I doe scorne I will not yeelde to any Scott, That ever yett was borne."

With that, there came an arrow keene Out of an English bow, Which struck Erle Douglas to the heart, A deepe and deadlye blow:

Who never spake more words than these, "Fight on, my merry men all; For why, my life is at an end: Lord Percy sees my fall."

Then leaving liffe, Erle Percy tooke The dead man by the hand; And said, "Erle Douglas, for thy life Wold I had lost my land!

"O Christ! my verry hart doth bleed With sorrow for thy sake; For sure, a more renowned knight Mischance cold never take."

A knight amongst the Scotts there was, Which saw Erle Douglas dye, Who streight in wrath did vow revenge Upon the Lord Percye;

Sir Hugh Mountgomerye was he call'd, Who, with a spere most bright, Well-mounted on a gallant steed, Ran fiercely through the fight;

And past the English archers all, Without all dread or feare, And through Earl Percyes body then He thrust his hatefull spere

With such a vehement force and might He did his body gore, The speare ran through the other side A large cloth-yard, and more.

So thus did both these nobles dye, Whose courage none could staine; An English archer then perceiv'd The noble erle was slaine.

He had a bow bent in his hand, Made of a trusty tree; An arrow of a cloth-yard long Up to the head drew hee.

Against Sir Hugh Mountgomerye, So right the shaft he sett, The grey goose-wing that was thereon In his harts bloode was wett.

This fight did last from breake of day Till setting of the sun; For when they rung the evening bell, The battel scarce was done.

With stout Erle Percy, there was slaine, Sir John of Egerton, Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John, Sir James, that bold Bar n.

And with Sir George and stout Sir James, Both knights of good account, Good Sir Ralph Rabby there was slaine, Whose prowesse did surmount.

For Witherington needs must I wayle, As one in doleful dumpes; For when his legs were smitten off, He fought upon his stumpes.

And with Erle Douglas, there was slaine Sir Hugh Mountgomerye, Sir Charles Murray, that from the feeld One foote wold never flee.

Sir Charles Murray of Ratcliff, too, His sisters sonne was hee; Sir David Lamb, so well esteem'd, Yet saved cold not bee.

And the Lord Maxwell in like case Did with Erle Douglas dye; Of twenty hundred Scottish speres, Scarce fifty-five did flye.

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen, Went home but fifty-three; The rest were slaine in Chevy-Chace, Under the greene wood tree.

Next day did many widowes come, Their husbands to bewayle; They washt their wounds in brinish teares, But all wold not prevayle.

Theyr bodyes, bathed in purple blood, They bore with them away: They kist them dead a thousand times, Ere they were cladd in clay.

This newes was brought to Eddenborrow, Where Scotlands king did raigne, That brave Erle Douglas suddenlye Was with an arrow slaine.

"O heavy newes," King James did say; "Scottland can witnesse bee, I have not any captaine more Of such account as hee."

Like tydings to King Henry came, Within as short a space, That Percy of Northumberland Was slaine in Chevy-Chace.

"Now God be with him," said our king, "Sith it will noe better bee; I trust I have, within my realme, Five hundred as good as hee.

"Yett shall not Scotts nor Scotland say, But I will vengeance take, I'll be revenged on them all, For brave Erle Percyes sake."

This vow full well the king perform'd After, at Humbledowne; In one day, fifty knights were slayne, With lordes of great renowne.

And of the rest, of small account, Did many thousands dye: Thus endeth the hunting in Chevy-Chace, Made by the Erle Percy.

God save our king, and bless this land In plentye, joy, and peace; And grant henceforth, that foule debate 'Twixt noblemen may cease!

King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid

I read that once in Affrica A princely wight did raine, Who had to name Cophetua, As poets they did faine. From natures lawes he did decline, For sure he was not of my minde, He cared not for women-kind But did them all disdaine. But marke what hapned on a day; As he out of his window lay, He saw a beggar all in gray. The which did cause his paine.

The blinded boy that shootes so trim From heaven downe did hie, He drew a dart and shot at him, In place where he did lye: Which soone did pierse him to the quicke, And when he felt the arrow pricke, Which in his tender heart did sticke, He looketh as he would dye. "What sudden chance is this," quoth he, "That I to love must subject be, Which never thereto would agree, But still did it defie?"

Then from the window he did come, And laid him on his bed; A thousand heapes of care did runne Within his troubled head. For now he meanes to crave her love, And now he seekes which way to proove How he his fancie might remoove, And not this beggar wed. But Cupid had him so in snare, That this poor begger must prepare A salve to cure him of his care, Or els he would be dead.

And as he musing thus did lye, He thought for to devise How he might have her companye, That so did 'maze his eyes. "In thee," quoth he, "doth rest my life; For surely thou shalt be my wife, Or else this hand with bloody knife, The Gods shall sure suffice." Then from his bed he soon arose, And to his pallace gate he goes; Full little then this begger knowes When she the king espies.

"The gods preserve your majesty," The beggers all gan cry; "Vouchsafe to give your charity, Our childrens food to buy." The king to them his purse did cast, And they to part it made great haste; This silly woman was the last That after them did hye. The king he cal'd her back againe, And unto her he gave his chaine; And said, "With us you shal remaine Till such time as we dye.

"For thou," quoth he, "shalt be my wife, And honoured for my queene; With thee I meane to lead my life, As shortly shall be seene: Our wedding shall appointed be, And every thing in its degree; Come on," quoth he, "and follow me, Thou shalt go shift thee cleane. What is thy name, faire maid?" quoth he. "Penelophon, O King," quoth she; With that she made a lowe courtsey; A trim one as I weene.

Thus hand in hand along they walke Unto the king's pallace: The king with courteous, comly talke This begger doth embrace. The begger blusheth scarlet red, And straight againe as pale as lead, But not a word at all she said, She was in such amaze. At last she spake with trembling voyce, And said, "O King, I doe rejoyce That you wil take me for your choyce, And my degree so base."

And when the wedding day was come, The king commanded strait The noblemen, both all and some, Upon the queene to wait. And she behaved herself that day As if she had never walkt the way; She had forgot her gowne of gray, Which she did weare of late. The proverbe old is come to passe, The priest, when he begins his masse, Forgets that ever clerke he was He knowth not his estate.

Here you may read Cophetua, Through long time fancie-fed, Compelled by the blinded boy The begger for to wed: He that did lovers lookes disdaine, To do the same was glad and faine, Or else he would himselfe have slaine, In storie, as we read. Disdaine no whit, O lady deere, But pitty now thy servant heere, Least that it hap to thee this yeare, As to that king it did.

And thus they led a quiet life During their princely raine, And in a tombe were buried both, As writers sheweth plaine. The lords they tooke it grievously, The ladies tooke it heavily, The commons cryed pitiously, Their death to them was paine. Their fame did sound so passingly, That it did pierce the starry sky, And throughout all the world did flye To every princes realme.

King Leir and his Three Daughters

King Leir once ruled in this land With princely power and peace, And had all things with hearts content, That might his joys increase. Amongst those things that nature gave, Three daughters fair had he, So princely seeming beautiful, As fairer could not be.

So on a time it pleas'd the king A question thus to move, Which of his daughters to his grace Could shew the dearest love: "For to my age you bring content," Quoth he, "then let me hear, Which of you three in plighted troth The kindest will appear."

To whom the eldest thus began: "Dear father, mind," quoth she, "Before your face, to do you good, My blood shall render'd be. And for your sake my bleeding heart Shall here be cut in twain, Ere that I see your reverend age The smallest grief sustain."

"And so will I," the second said; "Dear father, for your sake, The worst of all extremities I'll gently undertake: And serve your highness night and day With diligence and love; That sweet content and quietness Discomforts may remove."

"In doing so, you glad my soul," The aged king reply'd; "But what sayst thou, my youngest girl, How is thy love ally'd?" "My love" (quoth young Cordelia then), "Which to your grace I owe, Shall be the duty of a child, And that is all I'll show."

"And wilt thou shew no more," quoth he, "Than doth thy duty bind? I well perceive thy love is small, When as no more I find. Henceforth I banish thee my court; Thou art no child of mine; Nor any part of this my realm By favour shall be thine.

"Thy elder sisters' loves are more Than well I can demand; To whom I equally bestow My kingdome and my land, My pompal state and all my goods, That lovingly I may With those thy sisters be maintain'd Until my dying day."

Thus flattering speeches won renown, By these two sisters here; The third had causeless banishment, Yet was her love more dear. For poor Cordelia patiently Went wandring up and down, Unhelp'd, unpity'd, gentle maid, Through many an English town:

Untill at last in famous France She gentler fortunes found; Though poor and bare, yet she was deem'd The fairest on the ground: Where when the king her virtues heard, And this fair lady seen, With full consent of all his court He made his wife and queen.

Her father, old King Leir, this while With his two daughters staid; Forgetful of their promis'd loves, Full soon the same decay'd; And living in Queen Ragan's court, The eldest of the twain, She took from him his chiefest means, And most of all his train.

For whereas twenty men were wont To wait with bended knee, She gave allowance but to ten, And after scarce to three, Nay, one she thought too much for him; So took she all away, In hope that in her court, good king, He would no longer stay.

"Am I rewarded thus," quoth he, "In giving all I have Unto my children, and to beg For what I lately gave? I'll go unto my Gonorell: My second child, I know, Will be more kind and pitiful, And will relieve my woe."

Full fast he hies then to her court; Where when she heard his moan, Return'd him answer, that she griev'd That all his means were gone, But no way could relieve his wants; Yet if that he would stay Within her kitchen, he should have What scullions gave away.

When he had heard, with bitter tears, He made his answer then; "In what I did, let me be made Example to all men. I will return again," quoth he, "Unto my Ragan's court; She will not use me thus, I hope, But in a kinder sort."

Where when he came, she gave command To drive him thence away: When he was well within her court, (She said) he would not stay. Then back again to Gonorel The woeful king did hie, That in her kitchen he might have What scullion boys set by.

But there of that he was deny'd Which she had promis'd late For once refusing, he should not, Come after to her gate. Thus twixt his daughters for relief He wandred up and down, Being glad to feed on beggars' food That lately wore a crown.

And calling to remembrance then His youngest daughters words, That said, the duty of a child Was all that love affords— But doubting to repair to her, Whom he had ban'sh'd so, Grew frantic mad; for in his mind He bore the wounds of woe.

Which made him rend his milk-white locks And tresses from his head, And all with blood bestain his cheeks, With age and honour spread. To hills and woods and watry founts, He made his hourly moan, Till hills and woods and senseless things Did seem to sigh and groan.

Even thus possest with discontents, He passed o'er to France, In hopes from fair Cordelia there To find some gentler chance. Most virtuous dame! which, when she heard Of this her father's grief, As duty bound, she quickly sent Him comfort and relief.

And by a train of noble peers, In brave and gallant sort, She gave in charge he should be brought To Aganippus' court; Whose royal king, with noble mind, So freely gave consent To muster up his knights at arms, To fame and courage bent.

And so to England came with speed, To repossesse King Leir, And drive his daughters from their thrones By his Cordelia dear. Where she, true-hearted, noble queen, Was in the battel stain; Yet he, good king, in his old days, Possest his crown again.

But when he heard Cordelia's death, Who died indeed for love Of her dear father, in whose cause She did this battle move, He swooning fell upon her breast, From whence he never parted; But on her bosom left his life That was so truly hearted.

The lords and nobles, when they saw The end of these events, The other sisters unto death They doomed by consents; And being dead, their crowns they left Unto the next of kin: Thus have you seen the fall of pride, And disobedient sin.

Fair Rosamond

When as King Henry rulde this land, The second of that name, Besides the queene, he dearly lovde A faire and comely dame.

Most peerlesse was her beautye founde, Her favour, and her face; A sweeter creature in this worlde Could never prince embrace.

Her crisped lockes like threads of golde, Appeard to each man's sight; Her sparkling eyes, like Orient pearles, Did cast a heavenlye light.

The blood within her crystal cheekes Did such a colour drive, As though the lillye and the rose For mastership did strive.

Yea Rosamonde, fair Rosamonde, Her name was called so, To whom our queene, Dame Ellinor, Was known a deadlye foe.

The king therefore, for her defence Against the furious queene, At Woodstocke builded such a bower, The like was never seene.

Most curiously that bower was built, Of stone and timber strong; An hundered and fifty doors Did to this bower belong:

And they so cunninglye contriv'd, With turnings round about, That none but with a clue of thread Could enter in or out.

And for his love and ladyes sake, That was so faire and brighte, The keeping of this bower he gave Unto a valiant knighte.

But fortune, that doth often frowne Where she before did smile, The kinges delighte and ladyes joy Full soon shee did beguile:

For why, the kinges ungracious sonne, Whom he did high advance, Against his father raised warres Within the realme of France.

But yet before our comelye king The English land forsooke, Of Rosamond, his lady faire, His farewelle thus he tooke:

"My Rosamonde, my only Rose, That pleasest best mine eye, The fairest flower in all the worlde To feed my fantasye,—

"The flower of mine affected heart, Whose sweetness doth excelle, My royal Rose, a thousand times I bid thee nowe farwelle!

"For I must leave my fairest flower, My sweetest Rose, a space, And cross the seas to famous France, Proud rebelles to abase.

"But yet, my Rose, be sure thou shalt My coming shortlye see, And in my heart, when hence I am, Ile beare my Rose with mee."

When Rosamond, that ladye brighte, Did heare the king saye soe, The sorrowe of her grieved heart Her outward lookes did showe.

And from her cleare and crystall eyes The teares gusht out apace, Which, like the silver-pearled dewe, Ranne downe her comely face.

Her lippes, erst like the corall redde, Did waxe both wan and pale, And for the sorrow she conceivde Her vitall spirits faile.

And falling downe all in a swoone Before King Henryes face, Full oft he in his princelye armes Her bodye did embrace.

And twentye times, with watery eyes, He kist her tender cheeke, Untill he had revivde againe Her senses milde and meeke.

"Why grieves my Rose, my sweetest Rose?" The king did often say: "Because," quoth shee, "to bloodye warres My lord must part awaye.

"But since your Grace on forrayne coastes, Amonge your foes unkinde, Must goe to hazard life and limbe, Why should I staye behinde?

"Nay, rather let me, like a page, Your sworde and target beare; That on my breast the blowes may lighte, Which would offend you there.

"Or lett mee, in your royal tent, Prepare your bed at nighte, And with sweete baths refresh your grace, At your returne from fighte.

"So I your presence may enjoye No toil I will refuse; But wanting you, my life is death: Nay, death Ild rather chuse."

"Content thy self, my dearest love, Thy rest at home shall bee, In Englandes sweet and pleasant isle; For travell fits not thee.

"Faire ladies brooke not bloodye warres; Soft peace their sexe delightes; Not rugged campes, but courtlye bowers; Gay feastes, not cruell fightes.

"My Rose shall safely here abide, With musicke passe the daye, Whilst I amonge the piercing pikes My foes seeke far awaye.

"My Rose shall shine in pearle and golde, Whilst Ime in armour dighte; Gay galliards here my love shall dance, Whilst I my foes goe fighte.

"And you, Sir Thomas, whom I truste To bee my loves defence, Be carefull of my gallant Rose When I am parted hence."

And therewithall he fetcht a sigh, As though his heart would breake; And Rosamonde, for very griefe, Not one plaine word could speake.

And at their parting well they mighte In heart be grieved sore: After that daye, faire Rosamonde The king did see no more.

For when his Grace had past the seas, And into France was gone, With envious heart, Queene Ellinor To Woodstocke came anone.

And forth she calls this trustye knighte In an unhappy houre, Who, with his clue of twined-thread, Came from this famous bower.

And when that they had wounded him, The queene this thread did gette, And wente where Ladye Rosamonde Was like an angell sette.

But when the queene with stedfast eye Beheld her beauteous face, She was amazed in her minde At her exceeding grace.

"Cast off from thee those robes," she said, "That riche and costlye bee; And drinke thou up this deadlye draught Which I have brought to thee."

Then presentlye upon her knees Sweet Rosamonde did falle; And pardon of the queene she crav'd For her offences all.

"Take pitty on my youthfull yeares," Faire Rosamonde did crye; "And lett mee not with poison stronge Enforced bee to dye.

"I will renounce my sinfull life, And in some cloyster bide; Or else be banisht, if you please, To range the world soe wide.

"And for the fault which I have done, Though I was forc'd theretoe, Preserve my life, and punish mee As you thinke meet to doe."

And with these words, her lillie handes She wrunge full often there; And downe along her lovely face Did trickle many a teare.

But nothing could this furious queene Therewith appeased bee; The cup of deadlye poyson stronge, As she knelt on her knee,

She gave this comelye dame to drinke; Who tooke it in her hand, And from her bended knee arose, And on her feet did stand,

And casting up her eyes to heaven, Shee did for mercye calle; And drinking up the poison stronge, Her life she lost withalle.

And when that death through everye limbe Had showde its greatest spite, Her chiefest foes did plain confesse Shee was a glorious wight.

Her body then they did entomb, When life was fled away, At Godstowe, neare to Oxford towne, As may be seene this day.

Phillida and Corydon

In the merrie moneth of Maye, In a morne by break of daye, With a troope of damselles playing Forthe 'I yode' forsooth a maying;

When anon by a wood side, Where that Maye was in his pride, I espied all alone Phillida and Corydon.

Much adoe there was, God wot: He wold love, and she wold not. She sayde, "Never man was trewe;" He sayes, "None was false to you."

He sayde, hee had lovde her longe; She sayes, love should have no wronge. Corydon wold kisse her then; She sayes, "Maydes must kisse no men,

"Tyll they doe for good and all." When she made the shepperde call All the heavens to wytnes truthe, Never loved a truer youthe.

Then with manie a prettie othe, Yea and nay, and faithe and trothe, Suche as seelie shepperdes use When they will not love abuse,

Love, that had bene long deluded, Was with kisses sweete concluded; And Phillida with garlands gaye Was made the lady of the Maye.

Fair Margaret and Sweet William

As it fell out on a long summer's day, Two lovers they sat on a hill; They sat together that long summer's day, And could not talk their fill.

"I see no harm by you, Margaret, And you see none by mee; Before to-morrow at eight o' the clock A rich wedding you shall see."

Fair Margaret sat in her bower-wind w, Combing her yellow hair; There she spyed sweet William and his bride, As they were a riding near.

Then down she layd her ivory combe, And braided her hair in twain: She went alive out of her bower, But ne'er came alive in't again.

When day was gone, and night was come, And all men fast asleep, Then came the spirit of Fair Marg'ret, And stood at William's feet.

"Are you awake, sweet William?" shee said, "Or, sweet William, are you asleep? God give you joy of your gay bride-bed, And me of my winding sheet."

When day was come, and night was gone, And all men wak'd from sleep, Sweet William to his lady sayd, "My dear, I have cause to weep.

"I dreamt a dream, my dear ladye, Such dreames are never good: I dreamt my bower was full of red 'wine,' And my bride-bed full of blood."

"Such dreams, such dreams, my honoured sir, They never do prove good; To dream thy bower was full of red 'wine,' And thy bride-bed full of blood."

He called up his merry men all, By one, by two, and by three; Saying, "I'll away to fair Marg'ret's bower, By the leave of my ladie."

And when he came to fair Marg'ret's bower, He knocked at the ring; And who so ready as her seven brethren To let sweet William in.

Then he turned up the covering-sheet; "Pray let me see the dead; Methinks she looks all pale and wan. She hath lost her cherry red.

"I'll do more for thee, Margaret, Than any of thy kin: For I will kiss thy pale wan lips, Though a smile I cannot win."

With that bespake the seven brethren, Making most piteous mone, "You may go kiss your jolly brown bride, And let our sister alone."

"If I do kiss my jolly brown bride, I do but what is right; I ne'er made a vow to yonder poor corpse, By day, nor yet by night.

"Deal on, deal on, my merry men all, Deal on your cake and your wine: For whatever is dealt at her funeral to-day, Shall be dealt to-morrow at mine."

Fair Margaret dyed to-day, to-day, Sweet William dyed the morrow: Fair Margaret dyed for pure true love, Sweet William dyed for sorrow.

Margaret was buryed in the lower chancel, And William in the higher: Out of her brest there sprang a rose, And out of his a briar.

They grew till they grew unto the church top, And then they could grow no higher; And there they tyed in a true lover's knot, Which made all the people admire.

Then came the clerk of the parish, As you the truth shall hear, And by misfortune cut them down, Or they had now been there.

Annan Water

"Annan Water's wading deep, And my love Annie's wondrous bonny; I will keep my tryst to-night, And win the heart o' lovely Annie."

He's loupen on his bonny grey, He rade the right gate and the ready', For a' the storm he wadna stay, For seeking o' his bonny lady.

And he has ridden o'er field and fell, Through muir and moss, and stones and mire; His spurs o' steel were sair to bide, And frae her four feet flew the fire.

"My bonny grey, noo play your part! Gin ye be the steed that wins my dearie, Wi' corn and hay ye'se be fed for aye, And never spur sail mak' you wearie."

The grey was a mare, and a right gude mare: But when she wan the Annan Water, She couldna hae found the ford that night Had a thousand merks been wadded at her.

"O boatman, boatman, put off your boat, Put off your boat for gouden money!" But for a' the goud in fair Scotland, He dared na tak' him through to Annie.

"O I was sworn sae late yestreen, Not by a single aith, but mony. I'll cross the drumly stream to-night, Or never could I face my honey."

The side was stey, and the bottom deep, Frae bank to brae the water pouring; The bonny grey mare she swat for fear, For she heard the water-kelpy roaring.

He spurred her forth into the flood, I wot she swam both strong and steady; But the stream was broad, her strength did fail, And he never saw his bonny lady.

O wae betide the frush saugh wand! And wae betide the bush of brier! That bent and brake into his hand, When strength of man and horse did tire.

And wae betide ye, Annan Water! This night ye are a drumly river; But over thee we'll build a brig, That ye nae mair true love may sever.

The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

There was a youthe, and a well-beloved youthe, And he was a squire's son; He loved the bayliffe's daughter deare, That lived in Islington.

Yet she was coye, and would not believe That he did love her soe, Noe nor at any time would she Any countenance to him showe.

But when his friendes did understand His fond and foolish minde, They sent him up to faire London, An apprentice for to binde.

And when he had been seven long yeares, And never his love could see,— "Many a teare have I shed for her sake, When she little thought of mee."

Then all the maids of Islington Went forth to sport and playe, All but the bayliffe's daughter deare; She secretly stole awaye.

She pulled off her gowne of greene, And put on ragged attire, And to faire London she would go Her true love to enquire.

And as she went along the high road, The weather being hot and drye, She sat her downe upon a green bank, And her true love came riding bye.

She started up, with a colour soe redd, Catching hold of his bridle-reine; "One penny, one penny, kind sir," she sayd, "Will ease me of much paine."

"Before I give you one penny, sweet-heart, Praye tell me where you were borne." "At Islington, kind sir," sayd shee, "Where I have had many a scorne."

"I prythee, sweet-heart, then tell to mee, O tell me, whether you knowe The bayliffes daughter of Islington." "She is dead, sir, long agoe."

"If she be dead, then take my horse, My saddle and bridle also; For I will into some farr countrye, Where noe man shall me knowe."

"O staye, O staye, thou goodlye youthe, She standeth by thy side; She is here alive, she is not dead, And readye to be thy bride."

"O farewell griefe, and welcome joye, Ten thousand times therefore; For nowe I have founde mine owne true love, Whom I thought I should never see more."

Barbara Allen's Cruelty

All in the merry month of May, When green buds they were swelling, Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay For love o' Barbara Allen.

He sent his man unto her then, To the town where she was dwelling: "O haste and come to my master dear, If your name be Barbara Allen."

Slowly, slowly rase she up, And she cam' where he was lying; And when she drew the curtain by, Says, "Young man, I think you're dying."

"O it's I am sick, and very, very sick, And it's a' for Barbara Allen." "O the better for me ye'se never be, Tho' your heart's blude were a-spilling!

"O dinna ye min', young man," she says, "When the red wine ye were filling, That ye made the healths gae round and round And ye slighted Barbara Allen?"

He turn'd his face unto the wa', And death was wi' him dealing: "Adieu, adieu, my dear friends a'; Be kind to Barbara Allen."

As she was walking o'er the fields, She heard the dead-bell knelling;

And every jow the dead-bell gave, It cried, "Woe to Barbara Allen!"

"O mother, mother, mak' my bed, To lay me down in sorrow. My love has died for me to-day, I'll die for him to-morrow."

The Douglas Tragedy

"Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas," she says, "And put on your armour so bright; Sweet William will hae Lady Margaret awi' Before that it be light.

"Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons, And put on your armour so bright, And take better care of your youngest sister, For your eldest's awa' the last night."

He's mounted her on a milk-white steed, And himself on a dapple grey, With a buglet horn hung down by his side And lightly they rode away.

Lord William lookit o'er his left shoulder, To see what he could see, And there he spied her seven brethren bold Come riding o'er the lea.

"Light down, light down, Lady Margaret," he said, "And hold my steed in your hand, Until that against your seven brethren bold, And your father I make a stand."

She held his steed in her milk-white hand, And never shed one tear, Until that she saw her seven brethren fa' And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.

"O hold your hand, Lord William!" she said, "For your strokes they are wondrous sair; True lovers I can get many a ane, But a father I can never get mair."

O, she's ta'en out her handkerchief, It was o' the holland sae fine, And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds, That were redder than the wine.

"O chuse, O chuse, Lady Margaret," he said, "O whether will ye gang or bide?" "I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William," she said, "For you have left me nae other guide."

He's lifted her on a milk-white steed, And himself on a dapple grey, With a buglet horn hung down by his side, And slowly they baith rade away.

O they rade on, and on they rade, And a' by the light of the moon, Until they came to yon wan water, And there they lighted down.

They lighted down to tak a drink Of the spring that ran sae clear; And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood, And sair she 'gan to fear.

"Hold up, hold up, Lord William," she says, "For I fear that you are slain!" "'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak, That shines in the water sae plain."

O they rade on, and on they rade, And a' by the light of the moon, Until they came to his mother's ha' door, And there they lighted down.

"Get up, get up, lady mother," he says, "Get up, and let me in! Get up, get up, lady mother," he says, "For this night my fair lady I've win.

"O mak my bed, lady mother," he says, "O mak it braid and deep! And lay Lady Margaret close at my back, And the sounder I will sleep."

Lord William was dead lang ere midnight, Lady Margaret lang ere day: And all true lovers that go thegither, May they have mair luck than they!

Lord William was buried in St. Marie's kirk, Lady Margaret in Marie's quire; Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose, And out o' the knight's a brier.

And they twa met, and they twa plat And fain they wad be near; And a' the world might ken right weel, They were twa lovers dear.

But bye and rade the black Douglas And wow but he was rough! For he pulled up the bonny brier, And flanged in St. Marie's Loch.

Young Waters

About Yule, when the wind blew cool; And the round tables began, A' there is come to our king's court Mony a well-favoured man.

The queen looked o'er the castle wa', Beheld baith dale and down, And then she saw young Waters Come riding to the town.

His footmen they did rin before, His horsemen rade behind; Ane mantle of the burning gowd Did keep him frae the wind.

Gowden graith'd[FN#1] his horse before, And siller shod behind; The horse young Waters rade upon Was fleeter than the wind.

[FN#1] Graitih'd, girthed.

Out then spake a wily lord, Unto the queen said he: "O tell me wha's the fairest face Rides in the company?"

"I've seen lord, and I've seen laird, And knights of high degree, But a fairer face than young Waters Mine eyen did never see."

Out then spake the jealous king And an angry man was he: "O if he had been twice as fair, You might have excepted me."

"You're neither laird nor lord," she says, "But the king that wears the crown; There is not a knight in fair Scotland, But to thee maun bow down."

For a' that she could do or say, Appeased he wad nae be; But for the words which she had said, Young Waters he maun dee.

They hae ta'en young Waters, And put fetters to his feet; They hae ta'en young Waters, And thrown him in dungeon deep.

"Aft I have ridden thro' Stirling town, In the wind but and the weet; But I ne'er rade thro' Stirling town Wi' fetters at my feet.

"Aft have I ridden thro' Stirling town, In the wind but and the rain; But I ne'er rade thro' Stirling town Ne'er to return again."

They hae ta'en to the heading-hill His young son in his cradle; And they hae ta'en to the heading-hill His horse but and his saddle.

They hae ta'en to the heading-hill His lady fair to see; And for the words the queen had spoke Young Waters he did dee.

Flodden Field

King Jamie hath made a vow, Keepe it well if he may: That he will be at lovely London Upon Saint James his day.

Upon Saint James his day at noone, At faire London will I be, And all the lords in merrie Scotland, They shall dine there with me.

"March out, march out, my merry men, Of hie or low degree; I'le weare the crowne in London towne, And that you soon shall be."

Then bespake good Queene Margaret, The teares fell from her eye: "Leave off these warres, most noble King, Keepe your fidelitie.

"The water runnes swift, and wondrous deepe, From bottome unto the brimme; My brother Henry hath men good enough; England is hard to winne."

"Away" quoth he "with this silly foole! In prison fast let her lie: For she is come of the English bloud, And for these words she shall dye."

With that bespake Lord Thomas Howard, The Queenes chamberlaine that day: "If that you put Queene Margaret to death, Scotland shall rue it alway."

Then in a rage King Jamie did say, "Away with this foolish mome; He shall be hanged, and the other be burned, So soone as I come home."

At Flodden Field the Scots came in, Which made our English men faine; At Bramstone Greene this battaile was seene, There was King Jamie slaine.

His bodie never could be found, When he was over throwne, And he that wore faire Scotland's crowne That day could not be knowne.

Then presently the Scot did flie, Their cannons they left behind; Their ensignes gay were won all away, Our souldiers did beate them blinde.

To tell you plaine, twelve thousand were slaine, That to the fight did stand, And many prisoners tooke that day, The best in all Scotland.

That day made many [a] fatherlesse child, And many a widow poore, And many a Scottish gay lady Sate weeping in her bower.

Jack with a feather was lapt all in leather, His boastings were all in vaine; He had such a chance, with a new morrice-dance He never went home againe.


This was written to adapt the ballad to the seventeenth century.

Now heaven we laude that never more Such biding shall come to hand; Our King, by othe, is King of both England and faire Scotland.

Helen of Kirkconnell

I wad I were where Helen lies; Night and day on me she cries; O that I were where Helen lies, On fair Kirkconnell lea!

Curst be the heart that thought the thought, And curst the hand that fired the shot, When in my arms burd Helen dropt, And died to succour me!

O think na but my heart was sair When my Love dropt and spak nae mair! I laid her down wi' meikle care, On fair Kirkconnell lea.

As I went down the water side, Nane but my foe to be my guide, Nane but my foe to be my guide, On fair Kirkconnell lea.

I lighted down my sword to draw, I hacked him in pieces sma', I hacked him in pieces sma', For her sake that died for me.

O Helen fair, beyond compare! I'll make a garland of thy hair, Shall bind my heart for evermair, Until the day I dee!

O that I were where Helen lies Night and day on me she cries; Out of my bed she bids me rise, Says, "Haste, and come to me!"

O Helen fair! O Helen chaste! If I were with thee, I were blest, Where thou lies low and takes thy rest, On fair Kirkconnell lea.

I wad my grave were growing green, A winding-sheet drawn ower my een, And I in Helen's arms lying, On fair Kirkconnell lea.

I wad I were where Helen lies! Night and day on me she cries, And I am weary of the skies, Since my Love died for me.

Robin Hood and Allen-a-Dale

Come listen to me, you gallants so free, All you that love mirth for to hear, And I will tell you of a bold outlaw, That lived in Nottinghamshire.

As Robin Hood in the forest stood All under the greenwood tree, There he was aware of a brave young man, As fine as fine might be.

The youngster was clad in scarlet red, In scarlet fine and gay And he did frisk it over the plain, And chaunted a roundelay.

As Robin Hood next morning stood Amongst the leaves so gay, There did he espy the same young man Come drooping along the way.

The scarlet he wore the day before It was clean cast away; And at every step he fetched a sigh, "Alas! and a well-a-day!"

Then stepped forth brave Little John, And Midge, the miller's son; Which made the young man bend his bow, When as he see them come.

"Stand off! stand off!" the young man said, "What is your will with me?" "You must come before our master straight, Under yon greenwood tree."

And when he came bold Robin before, Robin asked him courteously, O, hast thou any money to spare, For my merry men and me?

"I have no money," the young man said, "But five shillings and a ring; And that I have kept this seven long years, To have at my wedding.

"Yesterday I should have married a maid, But she was from me ta'en, And chosen to be an old knight's delight, Whereby my poor heart is slain."

"What is thy name?" then said Robin Hood, "Come tell me, without any fail." "By the faith of my body," then said the young man, "My name it is Allen-a-Dale."

"What wilt thou give me," said Robin Hood, "In ready gold or fee, To help thee to thy true love again, And deliver her unto thee?"

"I have no money," then quoth the young man, "No ready gold nor fee, But I will swear upon a book Thy true servant for to be."

"How many miles is it to thy true love? Come tell me without guile." "By the faith of my body," then said the young man, "It is but five little mile."

Then Robin he hasted over the plain, He did neither stint nor lin, Until he came unto the church Where Allen should keep his weddin'.

"What hast thou here?" the bishop then said, "I prithee now tell unto me." "I am a bold harper," quoth Robin Hood, "And the best in the north country."

"O welcome, O welcome," the bishop he said, "That music best pleaseth me." "You shall have no music," quoth Robin Hood, "Till the bride and bridegroom I see."

With that came in a wealthy knight, Which was both grave and old; And after him a finikin lass, Did shine like the glistering gold.

"This is not a fit match," quoth Robin Hood, "That you do seem to make here; For since we are come into the church, The bride shall chuse her own dear."

Then Robin Hood put his horn to his mouth, And blew blasts two and three; When four-and-twenty bowmen bold Came leaping over the lea.

And when they came into the church-yard, Marching all in a row, The first man was Allen-a-Dale, To give bold Robin his bow.

"This is thy true love," Robin he said, Young Allen, as I hear say; And you shall be married this same time, Before we depart away."

"That shall not be," the bishop he cried, "For thy word shall not stand; They shall be three times asked in the church, As the law is of our land."

Robin Hood pulled off the bishop's coat, And put it upon Little John; "By the faith of my body," then Robin said, "This cloth doth make thee a man."

When Little John went into the quire, The people began to laugh; He asked them seven times into church, Lest three times should not be enough.

"Who gives me this maid?" said Little John, Quoth Robin Hood, "That do I; And he that takes her from Allen-a-Dale, Full dearly he shall her buy."

And then having ended this merry wedding, The bride looked like a queen; And so they returned to the merry greenwood, Amongst the leaves so green.

Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne

When shaws beene sheene, and shradds full fayre, And leaves both large and longe, Itt is merrye walkyng in the fayre forrest To heare the small birdes songe.

The woodweele sang, and wold not cease, Sitting upon the spraye, Soe lowde, he wakened Robin Hood, In the greenwood where he lay.

"Now, by my faye," sayd jollye Robin, "A sweaven I had this night; I dreamt me of tow wighty yemen, That fast with me can fight.

"Methought they did mee beate and binde, And tooke my bow mee froe; Iff I be Robin alive in this lande, Ile be wroken on them towe."

"Sweavens are swift, master," quoth John, "As the wind that blowes ore the hill; For if itt be never so loude this night, To-morrow it may be still."

"Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all, And John shall goe with mee, For Ile goe seeke yond wight yeomen, In greenwood where the bee."

Then they cast on their gownes of grene, And tooke theyr bowes each one; And they away to the greene forrest A shooting forth are gone;

Untill they came to the merry greenwood, Where they had gladdest to bee; There were they ware of a wight yeoman, His body leaned to a tree.

A sword and a dagger he wore by his side, Of manye a man the bane; And he was clad in his capull hyde, Topp and tayll and mayne.

"Stand you still, master," quoth Little John, "Under this tree so grene, And I will go to yond wight yeoman To know what he doth meane."

"Ah! John, by me thou settest noe store, And that I farley finde: How offt send I my men beffore, And tarry my selfe behinde!

"It is no cunning a knave to ken, And a man but heare him speake; And itt were not for bursting of my bowe, John, I thy head wold breake."

As often wordes they breeden bale, So they parted Robin and John; And John is gone to Barnesdale; The gates he knoweth eche one.

But when he came to Barnesdale, Great heavinesse there hee hadd, For he found tow of his owne fell wes Were slaine both in a slade.

And Scarlette he was flying a-foote Faste over stocke and stone, For the sheriffe with seven score men Fast after him is gone.

"One shoote now I will shoote," quoth John, "With Christ his might and mayne; Ile make yond fellow that flyes soe fast, To stopp he shall be fayne."

Then John bent up his long bende-bowe, And fetteled him to shoote: The bow was made of tender boughe, And fell down to his foote.

"Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood, That ere thou grew on a tree; For now this day thou art my bale, My boote when thou shold bee."

His shoote it was but loosely shott, Yet flewe not the arrowe in vaine, For itt mett one of the sherriffes men, Good William a Trent was slaine.

It had bene better of William a Trent To have bene abed with sorrowe, Than to be that day in the green-wood slade To meet with Little Johns arrowe.

But as it is said, when men be mett Fyve can doe more than three, The sheriffe hath taken Little John, And bound him fast to a tree.

"Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe, And hanged hye on a hill." "But thou mayst fayle of thy purpose," quoth John, "If itt be Christ his will."

Lett us leave talking of Little John, And thinke of Robin Hood, How he is gone to the wight yeoman, Where under the leaves he stood.

"Good morrowe, good fellowe," sayd Robin so fayre, "Good morrowe, good fellow," quoth he. "Methinks by this bowe thou beares in thy hande, A good archere thou sholdst bee."

"I am wilfulle of my waye," quo' the yeoman, "And of my morning tyde:" "Ile lead thee through the wood," sayd Robin, "Good fellow, Ile be thy guide."

"I seeke an outlawe," the straunger sayd, "Men call him Robin Hood; Rather Ild meet with that proud outlawe Than fortye pound soe good."

"Now come with me, thou wight yeman, And Robin thou soone shalt see; But first let us some pastime find Under the greenwood tree.

"First let us some masterye make Among the woods so even; We may chance to meet with Robin Hood Here att some unsett steven."

They cutt them down two summer shroggs, That grew both under a breere, And set them threescore rood in twaine, To shoote the prickes y-fere.

"Leade on, good fellowe," quoth Robin Hood, "Leade on, I doe bidd thee." "Nay, by my faith, good fellowe," hee sayd, "My leader thou shalt bee."

The first time Robin shot at the pricke, He mist but an inch it fro; The yeoman he was an archer good, But he cold never shoote soe.

The second shoote had the wightye yeoman, He shote within the garlande; But Robin he shott far better than hee, For he clave the good pricke-wande.

"A blessing upon thy heart," he sayd, "Good fellowe, thy shooting is goode For an thy hart be as good as thy hand, Thou wert better then Robin Hoode.

Now tell me thy name, good fellowe," sayd he, "Under the leaves of lyne." "Nay, by my faith," quoth bolde Robin, "Till thou have told me thine."

"I dwell by dale and downe," quoth hee, "And Robin to take Ime sworne; And when I am called by my right name, I am Guy of good Gisbrne."

"My dwelling is in this wood," sayes Robin, "By thee I set right nought: I am Robin Hood of Barnesdale, Whom thou so long hast sought."

He that had neither beene kithe nor kin, Might have seen a full fayre sight, To see how together these yeomen went With blades both browne and bright:

To see how these yeomen together they fought Two howres of a summers day, Yett neither Robin Hood nor Sir Guy Them fettled to flye away.

Robin was reachles on a roote, And stumbled at that tyde; And Guy was quicke and nimble with-all, And hitt him ore the left side.

"Ah, deere Lady," sayd Robin Hood tho, "Thou art but mother and may'; I think it was never mans destinye To dye before his day."

Robin thought on Our Ladye deere, And soone leapt up againe, And strait he came with a 'backward' stroke, And he Sir Guy hath slayne.

He took Sir Guy's head by the hayre, And stuck itt upon his bowes end: "Thou hast beene a traytor all thy liffe, Which thing must have an end."

Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe, And nicked Sir Guy in the face, That he was never on woman born Cold tell whose head it was.

Sayes, "Lye there, lye there now, Sir Guy, And with me be not wrothe; Iff thou have had the worst strokes at my hand, Thou shalt have the better clothe."

Robin did off his gowne of greene, And on Sir Guy did throwe, And hee put on that capull hyde, That cladd him topp to toe.

"The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne, Now with me I will beare; For I will away to Barnesdale, To see how my men doe fare."

Robin Hood sett Guy's horne to his mouth, And a loud blast in it did blow: That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham, As he leaned under a lowe.

"Hearken, hearken," sayd the sheriffe, "I heare nowe tydings good, For yonder I heare Sir Guy's horne blowe, And he hath slaine Robin Hoode.

"Yonder I heare Sir Guy's horne blowe, Itt blowes soe well in tyde, And yonder comes that wightye yeoman, Cladd in his capull hyde.

"Come hyther, come hyther, thou good Sir Guy, Aske what thou wilt of mee." "O I will none of thy gold," sayd Robin, "Nor I will none of thy fee.

"But now I have slaine the master," he sayes, "Let me goe strike the knave; For this is all the rewarde I aske. Nor noe other will I have."

"Thou art a madman," said the sheriffe, "Thou sholdst have had a knightes fee; But seeing thy asking hath beene soe bad, Well granted it shale be."

When Little John heard his master speake, Well knewe he it was his steven; "Now shall I be looset," quoth Little John, "With Christ his might in heaven."

Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John, He thought to loose him belive: The sheriffe and all his companye Fast after him can drive.

"Stand abacke, stand abacke," sayd Robin; "Why draw you mee so neere? Itt was never the use in our countrye, Ones shrift another shold heere."

But Robin pulled forth an Irysh knife, And losed John hand and foote, And gave him Sir Guy's bow into his hand, And bade it be his boote.

Then John he took Guy's bow in his hand, His boltes and arrowes eche one: When the sheriffe saw Little John bend his bow, He fettled him to be gone.

Towards his house in Nottingham towne He fled full fast away, And soe did all the companye, Not one behind wold stay.

But he cold neither runne soe fast, Nor away soe fast cold ryde, But Little John with an arrowe soe broad He shott him into the 'backe'-syde.

Robin Hood's Death and Burial

When Robin Hood and Little John Down a down, a down, a down, Went o'er yon bank of broom, Said Robin Hood to Little John, "We have shot for many a pound: Hey down, a down, a down.

"But I am not able to shoot one shot more, My arrows will not flee; But I have a cousin lives down below, Please God, she will bleed me."

Now Robin is to fair Kirkley gone, As fast as he can win; But before he came there, as we do hear, He was taken very ill.

And when that he came to fair Kirkley-hall, He knocked all at the ring, But none was so ready as his cousin herself For to let bold Robin in.

"Will you please to sit down, cousin Robin," she said, "And drink some beer with me?" "No, I will neither eat nor drink, Till I am blooded by thee."

"Well, I have a room, cousin Robin," she said, "Which you did never see; And if you please to walk therein, You blooded by me shall be."

She took him by the lily-white hand, And led him to a private room; And there she blooded bold Robin Hood, Whilst one drop of blood would run.

She blooded him in the vein of the arm, And locked him up in the room; There did he bleed all the live-long day, Until the next day at noon.

He then bethought him of a casement door, Thinking for to begone; He was so weak he could not leap, Nor he could not get down.

He then bethought him of his bugle-horn, Which hung low down to his knee, He set his horn unto his mouth, And blew out weak blasts three.

Then Little John, when hearing him, As he sat under the tree, "I fear my master is near dead, He blows so wearily."

Then Little John to Fair Kirkley is gone, As fast as he can dree; But when he came to Kirkley-hall, He broke locks two or three;

Until he came bold Robin to, Then he fell on his knee; "A boon, a boon," cries Little John, "Master, I beg of thee."

"What is that boon," quoth Robin Hood, "Little John, thou begst of me?" "It is to burn fair Kirkley-hall, And all their nunnery."

"Now nay, now nay," quoth Robin Hood, "That boon I'll not grant thee; I never hurt woman in all my life, Nor man in woman's company.

"I never hurt fair maid in all my time, Nor at my end shall it be; But give me my bent bow in my hand, And a broad arrow I'll let flee; And where this arrow is taken up, There shall my grave digged be.

"Lay me a green sod under my head, And another under my feet; And lay my bent bow by my side, Which was my music sweet; And make my grave of gravel and green, Which is most right and meet.

"Let me have length and breadth enough, With a green sod under my head; That they may say when I am dead, Here lies bold Robin Hood."

These words they readily promised him, Which did bold Robin please; And there they buried bold Robin Hood, Near to the fair Kirkleys.

The Twa Corbies

As I was walking all alane, I heard twa corbies making a maen: The tane unto the t'ither did say, "Whaur shall we gang and dine the day?"

"O doun beside yon auld fail dyke, I wot there lies a new-slain knight; And naebody kens that he lies there But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.

"His hound is to the hunting gane, His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame, His lady's ta'en another mate, Sae we may mak' our dinner sweet.

"O we'll sit on his white hause bane, And I'll pyke out his bonny blue e'en; Wi' ae lock o' his gowden hair We'll theek our nest when it blaws bare.

"Mony a ane for him makes maen, But nane shall ken whaur he is gane. Over his banes when they are bare, The wind shall blaw for evermair."

Waly, Waly, Love be Bonny


O waly, waly up the bank, And waly, waly down the brae, And waly, waly yon burn side, Where I and my love were wont to gae. I leant my back unto an aik, I thought it was a trusty tree; But first it bow'd, and syne it brak, Sae my true love did lichtly me.

O waly, waly, but gin love be bonny, A little time while it is new; But when its auld, it waxeth cauld, And fades awa' like morning dew. O wherfore shuld I busk my head? Or wherfore shuld I kame my hair? For my true love has me forsook, And says he'll never loe me mair.

Now Arthur-Seat sall be my bed, The sheets shall neir be prest by me: Saint Anton's well sall be my drink, Since my true love has forsaken me. Marti'mas wind, when wilt thou blaw, And shake the green leaves aff the tree? O gentle death, when wilt thou cum? For of my life I am wearye.

'Tis not the frost that freezes fell, Nor blawing snaws inclemencye; 'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry, But my love's heart grown cauld to me. Whan we came in by Glasgow town, We were a comely sight to see; My love was clad in black velvet, And I myself in cramasye.

But had I wist, before I kist, That love had been sae ill to win, I had lockt my heart in a case of gowd, And pinnd it with a siller pin. And, oh! that my young babe were born, And set upon the nurse's knee, And I myself were dead and gane! And the green grass growing over me.

The Nut-brown Maid

Be it right, or wrong, these men among On women do complain; Affirming this, how that it is A labour spent in vain To love them wele; for never a dele They love a man again: For let a man do what he can, Their favour to attain, Yet, if a new do them pursue, Their first true lover then Laboureth for nought; for from her thought He is a banished man.

I say not nay, but that all day It is both writ and said That woman's faith is, as who saith, All utterly decayed; But, nevertheless, right good witness In this case might be laid, That they love true, and continue, Record the Nut-brown Maid: Which, when her love came, her to prove, To her to make his moan, Would not depart; for in her heart She loved but him alone.

Then between us let us discuss What was all the manere Between them two: we will also Tell all the pain, and fere, That she was in. Now I begin, So that ye me answere; Wherefore, all ye, that present be I pray you, give an ear. I am the knight; I come by night, As secret as I can; Saying,' Alas! thus standeth the case, I am a banished man.'


And I your will for to fulfil In this will not refuse; Trusting to shew, in wordes few, That men have an ill use (To their own shame) women to blame, And causeless them accuse: Therefore to you I answer now, All women to excuse,— Mine own heart dear, with you what chere? I pray you, tell anone; For, in my mind, of all mankind I love but you alone.


It standeth so; a dede is do Whereof great harm shall grow My destiny is for to die A shameful death, I trowe; Or else to flee: the one must be. None other way I know, But to withdraw as an outlaw, And take me to my bow. Wherefore, adieu, my own heart true! None other rede I can: For I must to the green wood go, Alone, a banished man.


O Lord, what is this worldys bliss, That changeth as the moon! My summer's day in lusty May Is darked before the noon. I hear you say, farewell: Nay, nay, We depart not so soon. Why say ye so? wheder will ye go? Alas! what have ye done? All my welfare to sorrow and care Should change, if ye were gone; For, in my mind, of all mankind I love but you alone.


I can believe, it shall you grieve, And somewhat you distrain; But, afterward, your paines hard Within a day or twain Shall soon aslake; and ye shall take Comfort to you again. Why should ye ought? for, to make thought Your labour were in vain. And thus I do; and pray you to, As heartily as I can; For I must to the green wood go, Alone, a banished man.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse