Child's Ballads/4

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight, no. 4
For more information see Wikipedia Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight

A: Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight[edit]

FAIR lady Isabel sits in her bower sewing,
      Refrain:Aye as the gowans grow gay
There she heard an elf-knight blawing his horn.
      Refrain:The first morning in May

"If I had yon horn that I hear blawing,
And yon elf-knight to sleep in my bosom."

This maiden had scarcely these words spoken,
Till in at her window the elf-knight has luppen.

"It's a very strange matter, fair maiden," said he,
"I canna blaw my horn but ye call on me.
"But will ye go to yon greenwood side?
If ye canna gang, I will cause you to ride."

He leapt on a horse, and she on another,
And they rode on to the greenwood together.

"Light down, light down, lady Isabel," said he,
We are come to the place where ye are to die.

"Hae mercy, hae mercy, kind sir, on me,
Till ance my dear father and mother I see."

"Seven king's-daughters here hae I slain,
And ye shall be the eight o them."

"O sit down a while, lay your head on my knee,
That we may hae some rest before that I die."
She stroakd him sae fast, the nearer he did creep,
Wi a sma charm she lulld him fast asleep.

Wi his ain sword-belt sae fast as she ban him,
Wi his ain dag-durk sae sair as she dang him.

"If seven king's-daughters here ye hae slain,
Lye ye here, a husband to them a'."

B: The Water o Wearie's Well[edit]

THERE came a bird out o a bush,
On water for to dine,
An sighing sair, says the king's daughter,
"O wae's this heart o mine!"

He's taen a harp into his hand,
He's harped them all asleep,
Except it was the king's daughter,
Who one wink couldna get.

He's luppen on his berry-brown steed,
Taen 'er on behind himsell,
Then baith rede down to that water
That they ca Wearie's Well.

"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times I've watered my steed
Wi the waters o Wearie's Well."

The first step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the knee;
And sighend says this lady fair,
"This water's nae for me."

"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times I've watered my steed
Wi the water o Wearie's Well."

The next step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the middle;
"O," sighend says this lady fair,
I've wat my gowden girdle."

"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times have I watered my steed
Wi the water o Wearie's Well."

The next step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the chin;
"O," sighend says this lady fair,
"They sud gar twa loves twin."

"Seven king's-daughters I've drownd there,
In the water o Wearie's Well,
And I'll make you the eight o them,
And ring the common bell."

"Since I am standing here," she says,
"This dowie death to die,
One kiss o your comely mouth
I'm sure wad comfort me."

He louted him oer his saddle bow,
To kiss her cheek and chin;
She's taen him in her arms twa,
An thrown him headlong in.

"Since seven king's daughters ye've drowned there,
In the water o Wearie's Well,
I'll make you bridegroom to them a',
An ring the bell mysell."

And aye she warsled, and aye she swam,
And she swam to dry lan;
She thanked God most cheerfully
The dangers she oercame.

C: False Sir John/May Colvin[edit]

FALSE Sir John a wooing came
To a maid of beauty fair;
May Colven was this lady's name,
Her father's only heir.

He wood her butt, he wood her ben,
He wood her in the ha,
Until he got this lady's consent
To mount and ride awa.

He went down to her father's bower,
Where all the steeds did stand,
And he's taken one of the best steeds
That was in her father's land.

He's got on and she's got on,
And fast as they could flee,
Until they came to a lonesome part,
A rock by the side of the sea.

"Loup off the steed," says false Sir John,
"Your bridal bed you see;
For I have drowned seven young ladies,
The eight one you shall be.

"Cast off, cast off, my May Colven,
All and your silken gown,
For it's oer good and oer costly
To rot in the salt sea foam.

"Cast off, cast off, my May Colven,
All and your embroiderd shoen,
For they're oer good and oer costly
To rot in the salt sea foam."

"O turn you about, O false Sir John,
And look to the leaf of the tree,
For it never became a gentleman
A naked woman to see."

He turnd himself straight round about,
To look to the leaf of the tree;
So swift as May Colven was
To throw him in the sea.

"O help, O help, my May Colven,
O help, or else I'll drown;
I'll take you home to your father's bower,
And set you down safe and sound."

"No help, no help, O false Sir John,
No help, nor pity thee;
Tho seven king's-daughters you have drownd,
But the eight shall not be me."

So she went on her father's steed,
As swift as she could flee,
And she came home to her father's bower
Before it was break of day.

Up then and spoke the pretty parrot:
"May Colven, where have you been?
What has become of false Sir John,
That woo'd you so late the streen?

"He woo'd you butt, he woo'd you ben,
He woo'd you in the ha,
Until he got your own consent
For to mount and gang awa."

"O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot,
Lay not the blame upon me;
Your cup shall be of the flowered gold,
Your cage of the root of the tree."

Up then spake the king himself,
In the bed-chamber where he lay:
"What ails the pretty parrot,
That prattles so long or day?"

"There came a cat to my cage door,
It almost a worried me,
And I was calling on May Colven
To take the cat from me."

D: May Collin/False Sir John[edit]

O HEARD ye of a bloody knight,
Lived in the south country?
For he has betrayed eight ladies fair
And drowned them in the sea.

Then next he went to May Collin,
She was her father's heir,
The greatest beauty in the land,
I solemnly declare.

"I am a knight of wealth and might,
Of townlands twenty-three;
And you'll be lady of them all,
If you will go with me."

"Excuse me, then, Sir John," she says;
"To wed I am too young;
Without I have my parents' leave,
With you I darena gang."

"Your parents' leave you soon shall have,
In that they will agree;
For I have made a solemn vow
This night you'll go with me."

From below his arm he pulled a charm,
And stuck it in her sleeve,
And he has made her go with him,
Without her parents' leave.

Of gold and silver she has got
With her twelve hundred pound,
And the swiftest steed her father had
She has taen to ride upon.

So privily they went along,
They made no stop or stay,
Till they came to the fatal place
That they call Bunion Bay.

It being in a lonely place,
And no house there was nigh,
The fatal rocks were long and steep,
And none could hear her cry.

"Light down," he said, "Fair May Collin,
Light down and speak with me,
For here I've drowned eight ladies fair,
And the ninth one you shall be."

"Is this your bowers and lofty towers,
So beautiful and gay?
Or is it for my gold," she said,
"You take my life away?"

"Strip off," he says, "Thy jewels fine,
So costly and so brave,
For they are too costly and too fine
To throw in the sea wave."

"Take all I have my life to save,
O good Sir John, I pray;
Let it neer be said you killed a maid
Upon her wedding day."

"Strip off," he says, "Thy Holland smock,
That's bordered with the lawn,
For it's too costly and too fine
To rot in the sea sand."

"O turn about, Sir John," she said,
"Your back about to me,
For it never was comely for a man
A naked woman to see."

But as he turned him round about,
She threw him in the sea,
Saying, "Lie you there, you false Sir John,
Where you thought to lay me.

"O lie you there, you traitor false,
Where you thought to lay me,
For though you stripped me to the skin,
Your clothes you've got with thee."

Her jewels fine she did put on,
So costly, rich and brave,
And then with speed she mounts his steed,
So well she did behave.

That lady fair being void of fear,
Her steed being swift and free,
And she has reached her father's gate
Before the clock struck three.

Then first she called the stable groom,
He was her waiting man;
Soon as he heard his lady's voice
He stood with cap in hand.

"Where have you been, fair May Collin?
Who owns this dapple grey?"
"It is a found one," she replied,
"That I got on the way."

Then out bespoke the wily parrot
Unto fair May Collin:
"What have you done with false Sir John,
That went with you yestreen?"

"O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot,
And talk no more to me,
And where you had a meal a day
O now you shall have three."

Then up bespoke her father dear,
From his chamber where he lay:
"What aileth thee, my pretty Poll,
That you chat so long or day?"

The cat she came to my cage-door,
The thief I could not see,
And I called to fair May Collin,
To take the cat from me."

Then first she told her father dear
The deed that she had done,
And next she told her mother dear
Concerning false Sir John.

"If this be true, fair May Collin,
That you have told to me,
Before I either eat or drink
This false Sir John I'll see."

Away they went with one consent,
At dawning of the day,
Until they came to Carline Sands,
And there his body lay.

His body tall, by that great fall,
By the waves tossed to and fro,
The diamond ring that he had on
Was broke in pieces two.

And they have taken up his corpse
To yonder pleasant green,
And there they have buried false Sir John,
For fear he should be seen.

E: The Outlandish Knight[edit]

AN outlandish knight came from the north lands,
And he came a-wooing to me;
He told me he'd take me unto the north lands,
And there he would marry me.

"Come, fetch me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best nags out of the stable,
Where they stand thirty and three."

She fetched him some of her father's gold,
And some of her mother's fee,
And two of the best nags out of the stable,
Where they stood thirty and three.

She mounted her on her milk-white steed,
He on the dapple grey;
They rode till they came unto the sea-side,
Three hours before it was day.

"Light off, light off thy milk-white steed,
And deliver it unto me;
Six pretty maids have I drowned here,
And thou the seventh shalt be.

"Pull off, pull off thy silken gown,
And deliver it unto me;
Methinks it looks too rich and too gay
To rot in the salt sea.

"Pull off, pull off thy silken stays,
And deliver them unto me;
Methinks they are too fine and gay
To rot in the salt sea.

"Pull off, pull off thy Holland smock,
And deliver it unto me;
Methinks it looks too rich and gay
To rot in the salt sea."

"If I must pull off my Holland smock,
Pray turn thy back unto me;
For it is not fitting that such a ruffian
A naked woman should see."

He turned his back towards her
And viewed the leaves so green;
She catched him round the middle so small,
And tumbled him into the stream.

He dropped high and he dropped low,
Until he came to the side;
"Catch hold of my hand, my pretty maiden,
And I will make you my bride."

"Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man,
Lie there instead of me;
Six pretty maids have you drowned here,
And the seventh has drowned thee."

She mounted on her milk-white steed,
And led the dapple grey;
She rode till she came to her own father's hall,
Three hours before it was day.

The parrot being in the window so high,
Hearing the lady, did say,
"I'm afraid that some ruffian has led you astray,
That you have tarried so long away."

"Don't prittle nor prattle, my pretty parrot,
Nor tell no tales of me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
Although it is made of a tree."

The king being in the chamber so high,
And hearing the parrot, did say,
"What ails you, what ails you, my pretty parrot,
That you prattle so long before day?"

"It's no laughing matter," the parrot did say,
"That so loudly I call unto thee,
For the cats have got into the window so high,
And I'm afraid they will have me."

"Well turned, well turned, my pretty parrot,
Well turned, well turned for me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
And the door of the best ivory."

F: The False Knight Outwitted[edit]

"GO fetch me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And I'll carry you into the north land,
And there I'll marry thee."

She fetchd him some of her father's gold,
And some of her mother's fee;
She carried him into the stable,
Where horses stood thirty and three.

She leapd on a milk-white steed,
And he on a dapple-grey;
They rode til they came to a fair river's side,
Three hours before it was day.

"O light, O light, you lady gay,
O light with speed, I say,
For six knight's daughters have I drowned here,
And you the seventh must be."

"Go fetch the sickle, to crop the nettle
That grows so near the brim,
For fear it should tangle my golden locks,
Or freckle my milk-white skin."

He fetchd the sickle, to crop the nettle
That grows so near the brim,
And with all the strength that pretty Polly had
She pushd the false knight in.

"Swim on, swim on, thou false knight,
And there bewail thy doom,
For I don't think thy cloathing too good
To lie in a watry tomb."

She leaped on her milk-white steed,
She led the dapple grey;
She rid till she came to her father's house,
Three hours before it was day.

"Who knocked so loudly at the ring?"
The parrot he did say;
"O where have you been, my pretty Polly,
All this long summer's day?"

"O hold your tongue, parrot,
Tell you no tales of me;
Your cage shall be made of beaten gold,
Which is now made of a tree."

O then bespoke her father dear,
As he on his bed did lay:
"O what is the matter, my parrot,
That you speak before it is day?"

"The cat's at my cage, master,
And sorely frighted me,
And I calld down my Polly
To take the cat away."

G[edit]

"Now steal me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And steal the best steed in your father's stable,
Where there lie thirty three."

She stole him some of her father's gold,
And some of her mother's fee,
And she stole the best steed from her father's stable,
Where there lay thirty three.

And she rode on the milk-white steed,
And he on the barb so grey,
Until they came to the green, green wood,
Three hours before it was day.

"Alight, alight, my pretty colleen,
Alight immediately,
For six knight's daughters I drowned here,
And thou the seventh shall be."

"Oh hold your tongue, you false knight villain,
Oh hold your tongue," said she;
"'Twas you that promised to marry me,
For some of my father's fee."

"Strip off, strip off your jewels so rare,
And give them all to me;
I think them too rich and too costly by far
To rot in the sand with thee."

"Oh turn away, thou false knight villain,
Oh turn away from me;
Oh turn away, with your back to the cliff,
And your face to the willow-tree."

He turned about, with his back to the cliff,
And his face to the willow-tree;
So sudden she took him up in her arms,
And threw him into the sea.

"Lie there, lie there, thou false knight villain,
Lie there instead of me;
'Twas you that promised to marry me,
For some of my father's fee."

"Oh take me by the arm, my dear,
And hold me by the hand,
And you shall be my gay lady,
And the queen of all Scotland."

"I'll not take you by the arm, my dear,
Nor hold you by the hand;
And I won;t be your gay lady,
And the queen of all Scotland."

And she rode on the milk-white steed,
And led the barb so grey,
Until she came back to her father's castle,
One hour before it was day.

And out then spoke her parrot so green,
From the cage wherein she lay:
Where have you now been, my pretty colleen,
This long, long summer's day?

"Oh hold your tongue, my favourite bird,
And tell no tales on me;
Your cage I will make of the beaten gold,
And hang in the willow-tree."

Out then spoke her father dear,
From the chamber where he lay:
Oh what hath befallen my favourite bird,
That she calls so loud for day?

"'Tis nothing at all, good lord," she said,
"'Tis nothing at all indeed;
It was only the cat came to my cage-door,
And I called my pretty colleen."