Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
101. The Cherry-Tree Carol
 
 
i

I

JOSEPH was an old man,
  And an old man was he,
When he wedded Mary
  In the land of Galilee.
 
II

Joseph and Mary walk’d
        5
  Through an orchard good,
Where was cherries and berries
  So red as any blood.
 
III

Joseph and Mary walk’d
  Through an orchard green,        10
Where was berries and cherries
  As thick as might be seen.
 
IV

O then bespoke Mary,
  So meek and so mild,
‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,        15
  For I am with child.’
 
V

O then bespoke Joseph
  With words so unkind,
‘Let him pluck thee a cherry
  That brought thee with child.’        20
 
VI

O then bespoke the babe
  Within his mother’s womb,
‘Bow down then the tallest tree
  For my mother to have some.’
 
VII

Then bow’d down the highest tree
        25
  Unto his mother’s hand:
Then she cried, ‘See, Joseph,
  I have cherries at command!’
 
VIII

O then bespake Joseph—
  ‘I have done Mary wrong;        30
But cheer up, my dearest,
  And be not cast down.
 
IX

‘O eat your cherries, Mary,
  O eat your cherries now;
O eat your cherries, Mary,        35
  That grow upon the bough.’
 
X

Then Mary pluck’d a cherry
  As red as the blood;
Then Mary went home
  With her heavy load.        40
 
ii

XI

As Joseph was a-walking,
  He heard an angel sing:
‘This night shall be born
  Our heavenly King.
 
XII

‘He neither shall be born
        45
  In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
  But in an ox’s stall.
 
XIII

‘He neither shall be clothéd
  In purple nor in pall,        50
But all in fair linen,
  As were babies all.
 
XIV

‘He neither shall be rock’d
  In silver nor in gold,
But in a wooden cradle        55
  That rocks on the mould.
 
XV

He neither shall be christen’d
  In white wine nor red,
But with fair spring water
  With which we were christenéd.        60
 
iii

XVI

Then Mary took her young son
  And set him on her knee;
‘I pray thee now, dear child,
  Tell how this world shall be.’—
 
XVII

‘O I shall be as dead, mother,
        65
  As the stones in the wall;
O the stones in the street, mother,
  Shall mourn for me all.
 
XVIII

‘And upon a Wednesday
  My vow I will make,        70
And upon Good Friday
  My death I will take.
 
XIX

‘Upon Easter-day, mother,
  My uprising shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,        75
  Shall both rise with me!’
 
GLOSS:  place] palace.  pall] fine cloth.
 

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