Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
128. Chevy Chase
Fytte I


THE PERCY out of Northumberland,
  An avow to God made he
That he would hunt in the mountains
  Of Cheviot within days three,
In the maugre of doughty Douglas,        5
  And all that e’er with him be.

The fattest harts in all Cheviot
  He would kill and carry away.—
‘By my faith,’ said the doughty Douglas again,
  ‘I will let that hunting if I may!’        10

Then the Percy out of Banborowe came,
  With him a mighty meinye,
With fifteen hundred archers bold
  Chosen out of shirès three.

This began on a Monday at morn,
  In Cheviot the hills so hye;
The child may rue that is unborn,
  It was the more pitye.

The drivers through the woodès went
  [All] for to raise the deer,        20
Bowmen bicker’d upon the bent
  With their broad arrows clear.

Then the wild thoro’ the woodès went
  On every sidè shear;
Grayhounds thoro’ the grevès glent        25
  For to kill their deer.

This began on Cheviot the hills abune
  Early on a Monenday;
By that it drew to the hour of noon
  A hundred fat harts dead there lay.        30

They blew a mort upon the bent,
  They ’sembled on sidès shear;
To the quarry then the Percy went
  To the brittling of the deer.

He said, ‘It was the Douglas’ promise
  This day to meet me here;
But I wist he would fail, verament!’
  —A great oath the Percy sware.

At the last a squire of Northumberland
  Lookèd at his hand full nigh;        40
He was ware o’ the doughty Douglas coming,
  With him a great meinye.

Both with speär, bill and brand,—
  ’Twas a mighty sight to see;
Hardier men both of heart nor hand        45
  Were not in Christiantè.

They were twenty hundred spearmen good,
  Withouten any fail:
They were born along by the water o’ Tweed
  I’ the boun’s o’ Teviotdale.        50

‘Leave off the brittling of deer,’ he said;
  ‘To your bows look ye take good heed,
For sith ye were on your mothers born
  Had ye never so mickle need.’

The doughty Douglas on a steed
  Rode all his men beforn;
His armour glitter’d as did a gleed,
  Bolder bairn was never born.

‘Tell me whose men ye are,’ he says,
  ‘Or whose men that ye be;        60
Who gave you leave in this Cheviot chase
  In the spite of mine and of me?’

The first man that him answer made
  It was the good Lord Percye:
We will not tell thee whose men we are,        65
  Nor whose men that we be;
But we will hunt here in this chase
  In the spite of thine and of thee.

‘The fattest harts in all Cheviot
  We have kill’d, to carry away.’—        70
‘By my troth,’ said the doughty Douglas again,
  ‘The one of us dies this day.

‘[Yet] to kill allè these guiltless men
  Alas, it were great pitye!
But, Percy, thou art a lord of land,        75
  I an earl in my countrye—
Let all our men on a party stand,
  And do battle of thee and me!’

‘Christ’s curse on his crown,’ said the lord Percye,
  ‘Whosoever thereto says nay!        80
By my troth, thou doughty Douglas,’ he says,
  ‘Thou shalt never see that day—

—‘Neither in England, Scotland nor France,
  Nor for no man of woman born,
But, that (and fortune be my chance)        85
  I dare meet him, one man for one.’

Then bespake a squire of Northumberland,
  Richard Witherington was his name;
‘It shall never be told in South England
  To King Harry the Fourth for shame.        90

‘I wot you bin great lordès two,
  I am a poor squire of land;
[Yet] I’ll ne’er see my captain fight on a field
  And stand myself and look on.
But while that I may my weapon wield        95
  I’ll not fail, both heart and hand.’

That day, that day, that dreadful day!—
  The first fytte here I find:
An you’ll hear any more o’ the hunting of Cheviot,
  Yet there is more behind.        100
Fytte II


The Englishmen had their bows y-bent,
  Their hearts were good enow;
The first of arrows that they shot off
  Seven score spearmen they slew.

Yet bides the Earl Douglas upon the bent,
  A captain good enoghe;
And that was seenè verament,
  For he wrought them both woe and wouche.

The Douglas parted his host in three,
  Like a chief chieftain of pride;        110
With surè spears of mighty tree
  They came in on every side;

—Throughè our English archery
  Gave many a woond full wide;
Many a doughty they gar’d to dye,        115
  Which gainèd them no pride.

The Englishmen let their bowès be,
  And pull’d out brands that were bright;
It was a heavy sight to see
  Bright swords on basnets light.        120

Thoro’ rich mail and manoplie
  Many stern they struck down straight;
Many a freyke that was full free
  There under foot did light.

At last the Douglas and the Percy met,
  Like to captains of might and of main;
They swapt together till they both swat
  With swordès of fine Milan.

These worthy freykès for to fight
  Thereto they were full fain,        130
Till the blood out of their basnets sprent
  As ever did hail or rain.

‘Yield thee, Percy,’ said the Douglas,
  ‘And i’ faith I shall thee bring
Where thou shalt have an Earl’s wages        135
  Of Jamie our Scottish king.

‘Thou shaltè have thy ransom free,
  —I hight thee here this thing;
For the manfullest man thou art that e’er
  I conquer’d in field fighting.’        140

But ‘Nay’, then said the lord Percye,
  ‘I told it thee beforn
That I would never yielded be
  To man of a woman born.’

With that an arrow came hastily
  Forth of a mighty wane;
And it hath stricken the Earl Douglas
  In at the breastè-bane.

Thoro’ liver and lungès both
  The sharp arròw is gone,        150
That never after in his life-days
  He spake mo words but one:
’Twas, ‘Fight ye, my merry men, whiles ye may,
  For my life-days bin gone!’

The Percy leanèd on his brand
  And saw the Douglas dee;
He took the dead man by the hand,
  And said, ‘Woe is me for thee!

‘To have sav’d thy life I’d have parted with
  My lands for yearès three,        160
For a better man of heart nor of hand
  Was not in the north countrye.’

[All this there saw] a Scottish knight,
  Sir Hugh the Montgomerye:
When he saw Douglas to the death was dight,        165
  Through a hundred archerye
He never stint nor he never blint
  Till he came to the lord Percye.

He set upon the lord Percy
  A dint that was full sore;        170
With a surè spear of a mighty tree
  Thro’ the body him he bore,
O’ the t’other side that a man might see
  A large cloth-yard and more.

An archer of Northumberland
  Saw slain was the lord Percye:
He bare a bent bow in his hand,
  Was made of a trusty tree.

An arrow that was a cloth-yard long
  To the hard steel halèd he,        180
A dint that was both sad and sair
  He set on Montgomerye.

The dint it was both sad and sair
  That he on Montgomerye set;
The swan-feathers that his arrow bare        185
  With his heart-blood they were wet.

There was never a freykè one foot would flee,
  But still in stoure did stand;
Hewing on each other, while they might dree,
  With many a baleful brand.        190

This battle began in Cheviot
  An hour before the noon,
And when the even-song bell was rung
  The battle was not half done.

They took [their stand] on either hand
  By the [lee] light of the moon;
Many had no strength for to stand
  In Cheviot the hills abune.

Of fifteen hundred archers of England
  Went away but seventy-and-three;        200
Of twenty hundred spearmen of Scotland
  But even five-and-fifty.

There was slain with the bold Percye
  Sir John of Agerstoune,
Sir Roger, the hendè Hartley,        205
  Sir William, the bold Herone.

Sir George, the worthy Loumlye,
  A knight of great renown,
Sir Ralph, the richè Rabye,
  With dints were beaten down.        210

For Witherington my heart was woe
  That ever he slain should be:
For when both his legs were hewn in two
  Yet he kneel’d and fought on his knee.

There was slayn with the doughty Douglas
  Sir Hugh the Montgomerye,
Sir Davy Lambwell, that worthy was,
  His sister’s son was he.

Sir Charles a Murray in that place,
  That never a foot would flee:        220
Sir Hew Maxwell, a lord he was,
  With the Douglas did he dee.

So on the morrow they made them biers
  Of birch and hazel so gray;
Many widows with weeping tears        225
  Came to fetch their makes away.

Teviotdale may carp of care,
  Northumberland may make moan,
For two such captains as slain were there
  On the March-parts shall never be none.        230

Word is come to Edinboro’,
  To Jamie the Scottish King,
Earl Douglas, lieutenant of the Marches,
  Lay slain Cheviot within.

His hands the King did weal and wring,
  Said, ‘Alas! and woe is me!
Such another captain Scotland within
  I’ faith shall never be!’

Word is come to lovely London
  To the fourth Harry, our King,        240
Lord Percy, lieutenant of the Marches,
  Lay slain Cheviot within.

‘God have mercy on his soul,’ said King Harry,
  ‘Good Lord, if thy will it be!
I’ve a hundred captains in England,’ he said,        245
  ‘As good as ever was he:
But Percy an I brook my life,
  Thy death well quit shall be.’

And as our King made his avow
  Like a noble prince of renown,        250
For Percy he did it well perform
  After, on Homble-down;

Where six-and-thirty Scottish knights
  On a day were beaten down;
Glendale glitter’d on their armour bright        255
  Over castle, tower and town.

This was the Hunting of the Cheviot;
  That e’er began this spurn!
Old men, that knowen the ground well,
  Call it of Otterburn.        260

There was never a time on the Marche-partès
  Since the Douglas and Percy met,
But ’tis marvel an the red blood run not
  As the reane does in the street.

Jesu Christ! our balès bete,
  And to the bliss us bring!
This was the Hunting of the Cheviot:
  God send us all good endìng!
GLOSS:  maugre] despite.  let] hinder.  meinye] company.  bicker’d] attacked, skirmished.  bent] rough grass.  wild] game, deer.  shear] several.  grevès] groves.  glent] glanced, darted.  mort] death of the deer.  quarry] dead game.  brittling] cutting up.  boun’s] boundaries.  gleed] live coal.  bairn] fighting man.  on a party] apart.  fytte] division of a ballad.  wouche] evil.  tree] timber.  doughty] doughty man.  basnets] steel caps.  manoplie] long gauntlet.  stern] stern men, warriors.  freyke] bold fellow.  swapt] smote.  swat] sweated.  sprent] spurted.  hight] promise.  wane] host, multitude.  dight] done, doomed.  stint] stayed.  blint] stopped.  dint] stroke, lunge.  halèd] pulled.  stoure] press of battle.  dree] endure.  lee] fair, bright.  hendè] courteous, gentle.  makes] mates.  carp] talk.  weal] clench.  brook] retain.  Glendale] one of the six ‘wards’ of Northumberland.  Homildon was here.  spurn] fray (?).  reane] gutter.  balès] woes.  bete] better, relieve.


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