Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Minstrel’s Roundelay (from Œlla)
By Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)
O SING unto my roundelay,
  O drop the briny tear with me,
Dance no more at holy-day,
  Like a running river be.
      My love is dead,        5
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.
Black his locks as the winter night,
  White his skin 1 as the summer snow,
Red his face as the morning light,        10
  Cold he lies in the grave below.
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.
Sweet his tongue as the throstle’s note,        15
  Quick in dance as thought can be,
Deft his tabor, cudgel stout,
  O he lies by the willow-tree!
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,        20
        All under the willow-tree.
Hark! the raven flaps his wing
  In the briar’d dell below;
Hark! the death-owl loud doth sing
  To the nightmares as they go.        25
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.
See! the white moon shines on high;
  Whiter is my true love’s shroud;        30
Whiter than the morning sky,
  Whiter than the evening cloud.
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.        35
Here upon my true love’s grave
  Shall the barren flowers be laid:
Not one holy Saint to save
  All the coldness of a maid!
      My love is dead,        40
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.
With my hands I’ll gird 2 the briars
  Round his holy corse to grow.
Elfin Faëry, light your fires;        45
  Here my body still shall bow. 3
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,
        All under the willow-tree.
Come, with acorn-cup and thorn,        50
  Drain my heartè’s blood away;
Life and all its good I scorn,
  Dance by night or feast by day.
      My love is dead,
      Gone to his death-bed,        55
        All under the willow-tree. 4
Note 1. ‘Rode,’ complexion.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 2. ‘Dente,’ fasten.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 3. ‘Gre’ (grow), ‘bee’ (bow).—Chatterton. [back]
Note 4. The original concludes with the following quatrain:—
  ‘Water-witches crowned with reytes,
  Bear me to your lethal tide.
I die! I come! My true love waits!
  Thus the damsel spake, and died.’
In spite of the words ‘reytes’ (water-flags) and ‘lethal’ (deadly), this stanza is a false eighteenth-century note, strangely out of harmony with the almost completely sustained tone of the rest of this noble ditty; it is moreover an awkward break-down in metre. I have ventured to transfer it from the text to this foot-note. A word may be needed as to my modernized text: wherever Chatterton’s gloss-word has been adopted instead of his text-word, this is done without notification. Now and then the rhyme or clearness of phrase compelled substitution: this has been specified in the notes in every case of the least importance. [back]

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