Child's Ballads/9

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
The Fair Flower of Northumberland, no. 9
For more information see Wikipedia The Fair Flower of Northumberland

The Fair Flower of Northumberland[edit]

IT was a knight in Scotland borne
      Refrain: Follow, my love, come over the strand
Was taken prisoner, and left forlorne,
      Refrain: Even by the good Earle of Northumberland.
Then was he cast in prison strong,
Where he could not walke nor lie along,
      Refrain: Even by the goode Earle of Northumberland.
And as in sorrow thus he lay,
The Earle’s sweete daughter walkt that way,
      Refrain: And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
And passing by, like an angell bright,
The prisoner had of her a sight,
      Refrain: And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
And loud to her this knight did crie,
The salt teares standing in his eye,
      Refrain: And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
‘Faire lady,’ he said, ’Take pity on me,
And let me not in prison dye,
      Refrain: And you the faire flower of Northumberland.’
‘Faire Sir, how should I take pity on thee,
Thou being a foe to our countrey,
      Refrain: And I the faire flower of Northumberland.’
‘Faire lady, I am no foe,’ he said,
‘Through thy sweet love heere was I stayd,
      Refrain: For thee, the faire flower of Northumberland.’
‘Why shouldst thou come heere for love of me,
Having wife and children in thy countrie?
      Refrain: And I the faire flower of Northumberland.’
‘I sweare by the blessed Trinitie,
I have no wife nor children, I,
Nor dwelling at home in merrie Scotland.
‘If curteously you will set me free,
I vow that I will marrie thee,
So soone as I come in faire Scotland.
‘Thou shalt be a lady of castles and towers,
And sit like a queene in princely bowers,
When I am at home in faire Scotland.’
Then parted hence this lady gay,
And got her father’s ring away,
To helpe this sad knight into faire Scotland.
        Likewise much gold she got by sleight,
And all to help this forlorne knight
To wend from her father to faire Scotland.
Two gallant steedes, both good and able,
She likewise tooke out of the stable,
To ride with this knight into faire Scotland.
And to the jaylor she sent this ring,
The knight from prison forth to bring,
To wend with her into faire Scotland.
This token set the prisoner free,
Who straight went to this faire lady,
To wend with her into faire Scotland.
A gallant steede he did bestride,
And with the lady away did ride,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
They rode till they came to a water cleare:
‘Good Sir, how should I follow you heere,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland?
‘The water is rough and wonderfull deepe,
An[d] on my saddle I shall not keepe,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.’
‘Feare not the foord, faire lady,’ quoth he,
‘For long I cannot stay for thee,
And thou the faire flower of Northumberland.’
The lady prickt her wanton steed,
And over the river swom with speede,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
From top to toe all wet was shee:
‘This have I done for love of thee,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.’
Thus rode she all one winter’s night,
Till Edenborow they saw in sight,
The chiefest towne in all Scotland.
‘Now chuse,’ quoth he, ’Thou wanton flower,
Whe’r thou wilt be my paramour,
Or get thee home to Northumberland.
‘For I have wife, and children five,
In Edenborow they be alive;
Then get thee home to faire England.
‘This favour shalt thou have to boote,
Ile have thy horse, go thou on foote,
Go, get thee home to Northumberland.’
‘O false and faithlesse knight,’ quoth shee,
‘And canst thou deale so bad with me,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland?
‘Dishonour not a ladie’s name,
But draw thy sword and end my shame,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.’
He tooke her from her stately steed,
And left her there in extreme need,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
Then sate she downe full heavily;
At length two knights came riding by,
Two gallant knights of faire England.
She fell downe humbly on her knee,
Saying, ‘Courteous knights, take pittie on me,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.
‘I have offended my father deere,
And by a false knight that brought me heere,
From the good Earle of Northumberland.’
They tooke her up behind them then,
And brought her to her father’s againe,
And he the good Earle of Northumberland.
All you faire maidens be warned by me,
Scots were never true, nor never will be,
To lord, nor lady, nor faire England.






THE provost’s daughter went out a walking,
      Refrain: A may’s love whiles is easy won
She heard a poor prisoner making his moan,
      Refrain: And she was the fair flower of Northumberland.
‘If any lady would borrow me
      Refrain: Out into the prison strong,
I would make her a lady of high degree,
      Refrain: For I am a great lord in fair Scotland.’
She’s done her to her father’s bed-stock,
      Refrain: A may’s love whiles is easy won
She’s stolen the keys o many braw lock,
      Refrain: And she’s loosd him out o the prison strong.
She’s done her to her father’s stable,
      Refrain: A may’s love whiles is easy won
She’s taen out a steed that was both swift and able,
      Refrain: To carry them both to fair Scotland.
O when they came to the Scottish cross,
      Refrain: A may’s whiles is easy won
‘Ye brazen-faced whore, light off o my horse,
      Refrain: And go get you back to Northumberland!’
O when they came to the Scottish moor,
      Refrain: A may’s love whiles is easy won
‘Get off o my horse, you’re a brazen-faced whore,
      Refrain: So go get you back to Northumberland!’
‘O pity on me, O pity,’ said she,
      Refrain: ‘O that my love was so easy won!
Have pity on me as I had upon thee,
      Refrain: When I loosd you out of the prison strong.’
‘O how can I have pity on thee?
      Refrain: O why was your love so easy won!
When I have a wife and children three
      Refrain: More worthy than a’ Northumberland.’
‘Cook in your kitchen I will be,
      Refrain: O that my love was so easy won!
And serve your lady most reverently,
      Refrain: For I darena go back to Northumberland.’
‘Cook in my kitchen you shall not be,
Why was your love so easy won!
For I will have no such servants as thee,
So get you back to Northumberland.’
But laith was he the lassie to tyne,
A may’s love whiles is easy won
He’s hired an old horse and feed an old man,
To carry her back to Northumberland.
O when she came her father before,
A may’s love whiles is easy won
She fell down on her knees so low
For she was the fair flower of Northumberland.
‘O daughter, O daughter, why was ye so bold,
Or why was your love so easy won,
To be a Scottish whore in your fifteen year old?
And you the fair flower of Northumberland!’
Her mother she gently on her did smile,
O that her love was so easy won!
‘She is not the first that the Scotts have beguild,
But she’s still the fair flower of Northumberland.
‘She shanna want gold, she shanna want fee,
Altho that her love was so easy won,
She shanna want gold to gain a man wi,
And she’s still the fair flower of Northumberland.’






AS I went by a jail-house door,
      Refrain: Maid’s love whiles is easy won
I saw a prisoner standing there,
      Refrain: ‘I wish I were home in fair Scotland.
‘Fair maid, will you pity me?
Ye’ll steal the keys, let me gae free:
      Refrain: I’ll make you my lady in fair Scotland.
‘I’m sure you have no need of me,
For ye have a wife and bairns three,
      Refrain: That lives at home in fair Scotland.’
He swore by him that was crownd with thorn,
That he never had a wife since the day he was born,
      Refrain: But livd a free lord in fair Scotland.
She went unto her father’s bed-head,
She’s stown the key o mony a lock,
      Refrain: She’s let him out o prison strong.
She’s went to her father’s stable,
She’s stown a steed baith wight and able,
      Refrain: To carry them on to fair Scotland.
They rode till they came to a muir,
He bade her light aff, they’d call her a whore,
      Refrain: If she didna return to Northumberland.
They rode till they came to a moss,
He bade her light aff her father’s best horse,
      Refrain: And return her again to Northumberland.
‘I’m sure I have no need of thee,
When I have a wife and bairns three,
      Refrain: That lives at home in fair Scotland.’
‘I’ll be cook in your kitchen,
And serve your lady handsomelie,
For I darena gae back to Northumberland.’
‘Ye cannot be cook in my kitchen,
My lady cannot fa sic servants as thee,
So ye’ll return again to Northumberland.’
When she went thro her father’s ha,
She looted her low amongst them a’,
She was the fair flower o Northumberland.
Out spake her father, he spake bold,
‘How could ye be a whore in fifteen years old,
And you the flower of Northumberland?’
Out spake her mother, she spake wi a smile,
‘She’s nae the first his coat did beguile,
Ye’re welcome again to Northumberland.’






SHE’S gane down to her father’s stable,
      Refrain: O my dear, and my love that she wan
She’s taen out a black steed baith sturdy and able,
      Refrain: And she’s away to fair Scotland.
When they came to Scotland bridge,
‘Light off, you whore, from my black steed,
      Refrain: And go your ways back to Northumberland.’
‘O take me by the body so meek,
And throw me in the water so deep,
      Refrain: For I daurna gae back to Northumberland.’
‘I’ll no take thee by the body so meek,
Nor throw thee in the water so deep;
      Refrain: Thou may go thy ways back to Northumberland.’
‘Take me by the body so small,
And throw me in yon bonny mill-dam,
      Refrain: For I daurna gae back to Northumberland.’






A BAILIFF’S fair daughter, she lived by the Aln,
      Refrain: A young maid’s love is easily won
She heard a poor prisoner making his moan,
      Refrain: And she was the flower of Northumberland.
‘If ye could love me, as I do love thee,
      Refrain: A young maid’s love is hard to win
I’ll make you a lady of high degree,
      Refrain: When once we go down to fair Scotland.’
To think of the prisoner her heart was sore,
      Refrain: A young maid’s love is easily won
Her love it was much, but her pity was more,
      Refrain: And she, etc.
She stole from her father’s pillow the key,
And out of the dungeon she soon set him free,
      Refrain: And she, etc.
She led him into her father’s stable,
And they’ve taken a steed both gallant and able,
      Refrain: To carry them down to fair Scotland.
When they first took the way, it was darling and dear;
As forward they fared, all changed was his cheer,
      Refrain: And she, etc.
They rode till they came to a fair Scottish corse;
Says he, ‘Now, pray madam, dismount from my horse,
      Refrain: And go get you back to Northumberland.
‘It befits not to ride with a leman light,
When awaits my returning my own lady bright,
      Refrain: My own wedded wife in fair Scotland.’
The words that he said on her fond heart smote,
She knew not in sooth if she lived or not,
      Refrain: And she, etc.
She looked to his face, and it kythed so unkind
That her fast coming tears soon rendered her blind,
And she, etc.
‘Have pity on me as I had it on thee,
O why was my love so easily won!
A slave in your kitchen I’m willing to be,
But I may not go back to Northumberland.
‘Or carry me up by the middle sae sma,
O why was my love so easily won!
And fling me headlong from your high castle wa,
For I dare not go back to Northumberland.’
Her wailing, her woe, for nothing they went,
A young maid’s love is easily won
His bosom was stone and he would not relent,
And she, etc.
He turned him around and he thought of a plan,
He bought an old horse and he hired an old man,
To carry her back to Northumberland.
A heavy heart makes a weary way,
She reached her home in the evening gray,
And she, etc.
And all as she stood at her father’s tower-gate,
More loud beat her heart than her knock thereat,
And she, etc.
Down came her step-dame, so rugged and doure,
O why was your love so easily won!
‘In Scotland go back to your false paramour,
For you shall not stay here in Northumberland.’
Down came her father, he saw her and smiled,
A young maid’s love is easily won
‘You are not the first that false Scots have beguiled,
And ye’re aye welcome back to Northumberland.
‘You shall not want houses, you shall not want land,
You shall not want gold for to gain a husband,
And ye’re aye welcome back to Northumberland.’






* * * *
She stole the keys from her father’s bed-head,
      Refrain: O but her love it was easy won!
She opened the gates, she opened them wide,
      Refrain: She let him out o the prison strong.
She went into her father’s stable,
      Refrain: O but her love it was easy won!
She stole a steed that was both stout and strong,
      Refrain: To carry him hame frae Northumberland.
* * * * *
‘I’ll be cook in your kitchen,
      Refrain: Noo sure my love has been easy won!
I’ll serve your own lady with hat an with hand,
      Refrain: For I daurna gae back to Northumberland.’
‘I need nae cook in my kitchin,
      Refrain: O but your love it was easy won!
Ye’ll serve not my lady with hat or with hand,
      Refrain: For ye maun gae back to Northumberland.’
When she gaed hame, how her father did ban!
      Refrain: ‘O but your love it was easy won!
A fair Scottish girl, not sixteen years old,
      Refrain: Was once the fair flower o Northumberland!’






‘Why, fair maid, have pity on me,’
      Refrain: Waly’s my love wi the life that she wan
‘For I am bound in prison strong,
      Refrain: And under the heir o Northumberland.’
‘How can I have pity on thee,’
      Refrain: Waly’s my love, etc.
‘When thou hast a wife and children three,
      Refrain: All dwelling at home in fair Scotland?’
Now he has sworn a solemn oath,
      Refrain: An it was by eternity,
That wife and children he had none,
      Refrain: All dwelling at home in fair Scotland.
        Now she’s gone to her father’s bedstock,
      Refrain: Waly’s my love, etc.
And has stolen the key of the dungeon-lock,
      Refrain: And she the great heir o Northumberland.
And she’s gone to her father’s chest,
She has stolen away a suit of the best,
      Refrain: Altho she was heir o Northumberland.
Now she’s gone to her father’s coffer,
And has taen out gold nane kens how meickle,
      Refrain: Altho she, etc.
She’s gane to her father’s stable,
And taen out a steed baith lusty and able,
      Refrain: For a’ she was heir, etc.
The rade till they came to Crafurdmoor,
He bade her light down for an English whore,
      Refrain: Altho she, etc.
The rade till the came to the water o Clyde,
He bade her light down, nae farer she should ride,
      Refrain: ‘For now I am at hame in fair Scotland.’
‘Yonder view my castle,’ said he;
‘There I hae a wife and children three,
All dwelling at home,’ etc.
‘O take me by the middle sae sma
And thro me oer your castle-wa,
For I darena gang hame to Northumberland.’
When she came to her father’s yett,
She durst hardly rapp thereat,
Altho she was, etc.
Out then spoke her stepmother sour,
She bad her pack off for an impudent whore,
‘For thou shalt not be heir o Northumberland.’
Out then spock her bastard brother;
‘She’ll hae nae mair grace than God has gien her,
And she shall be heir o Northumberland.’
Out and spoke her father sae mild,
‘She’s no the first maid a false Scot has beguild,
And she shall be,’ etc.