Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
Would I Were a Falcon Wild
Popular Ballad (16th Century)
WOULD I were a falcon wild,
I should spread my wings and soar,
Then I should come swooping down
By a wealthy burgher’s door.
In his house there dwells a maid,        5
She is called fair Magdalene,
And a fairer damsel brown
All my days I have not seen.
On a Monday morning early,
Monday morning, they relate,        10
Magdalene was seen a-walking
Through the city’s northern gate.
Then the maidens said: “Thy pardon—
Magdalene, where wouldst thou go?”
—“Oh, into my father’s garden,        15
Where I went last night, you know.”
And when she to the garden came,
And straight into the garden ran,
There lay beneath the linden-tree
Asleep, a beautiful young man.        20
“Wake up, young man, be stirring,
Oh rise, for time is dear,
I hear the keys a-rattling,
And mother will be here.”
“Hear’st thou her keys a-rattling,        25
And thy mother must be nigh,
Then o’er the heath this minute
Oh, come with me, and fly!”
And as they wandered o’er the heath,
There for these twain was spread,        30
A shady linden-tree beneath,
A silken bridal-bed.
And three half-hours together,
They lay upon the bed.
“Turn round, turn round, brown maiden:        35
Give me thy mouth so red!”
“Thou say’st so much of turning round,
But naught of wedded troth,
I fear me I have slept away
My faith and honour both.”        40
“And fear’st thou, thou hast slept away
Thy faith and honour too,
I say I’ll wed thee yet, my dear,
So thou shalt never rue.”
Who was it sang this little lay,        45
And sang it o’er with cheer?
On St. Annenberg in the town,
It was the mountaineer.
He sang it there right gaily
Drank mead and cool red wine,        50
Beside him sat and listened
Three dainty damsels fine.

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