Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
An Excellent Ballad Intituled: The Constancy of Susanna
Roxburghe Ballads
 
(Anonymous. From The Roxburghe Ballads, Vol. I. 1874)

THERE dwelt a man in Babylon,
    of reputation great by fame;
He took to wife a fair woman,
    Susanna she was call’d by name;
A woman fair and virtuous:        5
          Lady, Lady,
Why should we not of her learn thus
          to live godly?
 
Virtuously her life she led,
    she feared God, she stood in awe,        10
As in the story we have read,
    was well brought up in Moses’ Law.
Her parents they were godly folk,
          Lady, Lady;
Why should we not then sing and talk        15
          of this Lady?
 
That year two Judges there was made,
    which were the Elders of Babylon;
To Joachim’s house was all their trade,
    who was Susanna’s husband then:        20
Joachim was a great rich man,
          Lady, Lady;
These Elders oft to his house came
          for this Lady.
 
Joachim had an Orchard by,        25
    fast joining to his house or place,
Whereas Susanna commonly
    her self did daily there solace:
And that these Elders soon espied,
          Lady, Lady;        30
And privily themselves did hide
          for that Lady.
 
Her chaste and constant life was tried
    by these two Elders of Babylon;
A time convenient they espied        35
    to have this Lady all alone.
In his Orchard it came to pass,
          Lady, Lady;
Where she alone her self did wash
          her fair body.        40
 
These Elders came to her anon,
    and thus they said, “Fair dame, God speed!
Thy doors are fast, thy Maids are gone,
    consent to us and do this deed;
For we are men of no mistrust,        45
          Lady, Lady,
And yet to thee we have a lust,
          O fair Lady!
 
“If that to us thou dost say ‘nay,’
    a testimonial we will bring;        50
We will say that one with thee lay,—
    how canst thou then avoid the thing?
Therefore consent, and to us turn,
          Lady, Lady;
For we to thee in lust do burn,        55
          O fair Lady!”
 
Then did she sigh, and said, “Alas!
    now woe is me on every side;
Was ever wretch in such a case?
    shall I consent and do this deed?        60
Whether I do or do it not,”
          Lady, Lady,
“It is my death, right well I wot.”
          O true Lady!
 
“Better it were for me to fall        65
    into your hands this day guiltless,
Then that I should consent at all
    to this your shameful wickedness.”
And even with that (whereas she stood),
          Lady, Lady,        70
Unto the Lord she cried aloud
          pitifully.
 
These Elders both likewise again
    against Susanna aloud they cried,
Their filthy lust could not obtain,        75
    their wickedness they sought to hide;
Unto her friends they then her brought,
          Lady, Lady,
And with all speed the life they sought
          of that Lady.        80
 
THE SECOND PART
ON the morrow she was brought forth
    before the people there to stand,
That they might hear and know the truth,
    how these two Elders Susanna found.
The Elders swore, and thus did say,        85
          Lady, Lady,
How that they saw a young man lay
          with that Lady.
 
Judgment there was, for no offence,
    Susanna causeless then must die;—        90
These Elders bore such evidence,
    against her they did verify,
Who were believed then indeed,
          Lady, Lady,
Against Susanna to proceed,        95
          that she should die.
 
Susanna’s friends that stood her by,
    they did lament, and were full woe,
When as they saw no remedy,
    but that to death she then must go.        100
Then unto him that is so just,
          Lady, Lady,
(In God was all her hope and trust)
          to him did cry.
 
The Lord her voice heard, and beheld        105
    the Daughter’s cry of Israel;
His spirit he raised in a child,
    whose name was called young Daniel,
Who cried aloud whereas he stood,
          Lady, Lady,        110
“I am clear of the guiltless blood
          of this Lady.”
 
“Are you such fools?” quoth Daniel then;
    “in judgment you have not done well,
Nor yet the right way have you gone        115
    to judge a daughter of Israel
By this witness of false disdain;
          Lady, Lady,
Wherefore to judgment turn again,
          for that Lady.”        120
 
And when to judgment they were set,
    he called for those wicked men,
And soon he did them separate,
    putting the one from the other, then
He asked the first where he did see        125
          that fair Lady;
He said “under a mulberry tree;”
          who lied falsely.
 
“Thou liest,” said Daniel, “on thy head
    thy sentence is before the Lord!”        130
He bade that forth he might be led,
    and bring the other that bore record,
To see how they two did agree
          for this Lady;
He said, “under a pomegranate tree;”        135
          who lied falsely.
 
Said Daniel, as he did before,
    “behold the messenger of the Lord
Stands waiting for you at the door,
    even to cut thee with a sword.”        140
And, even with that, the multitude
          aloud did cry,
“Give thanks to God, so to conclude,
          for this Lady.”
 
They dealt like with these wicked men        145
    according as the Scripture saith,
They did, as with their neighbour, then,
    by Moses’ law were put to death!
The innocent preserved was,
          Lady, Lady,        150
As God by Daniel brought to pass
          for this Lady.
 
 
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