Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
24. Captain Car
Traditional Ballads
IT befell at Martynmas,
  When wether waxed colde,
Captaine Care said to his men,
  We must go take a holde.
    Syck, sike, and totowe sike,        5
      And sike and like to die;
    The sikest nighte that euer I abode,
      God lord haue mercy on me! 1
“Haille, master, and wether you will,
  And wether ye like it best”;        10
“To the castle of Crecrynbroghe,
  And there we will take our reste.”
“I knowe wher is a gay castle,
  Is builded of lyme and stone;
Within their is a gay ladie,        15
  Her lord is riden and gone.”
The ladie she lend 2 on her castle-walle,
  She loked vpp and downe;
There was she ware of an host of men,
  Come riding to the towne.        20
“Se yow, my meri men all,
  And se yow what I see?
Yonder I see a host of men,
  I muse who they bee.”
She thought he had ben her wed lord,        25
  As he comd riding home;
Then was it traitur Captaine Care,
  The lord of Ester-towne.
They wer no soner at supper sett,
  Then after said the grace,        30
Or Captaine Care and all his men
  Wer lighte aboute the place.
“Gyue ouer thi howsse, thou lady gay,
  And I will make the a bande, 3
Tonighte thou shall ly within my armes,        35
  Tomorrowe thou shall ere my lande.”
Then bespacke the eldest sonne,
  That was both whitt and redde:
“O mother dere, geue ouer your howsse,
  Or elles we shalbe deade.”        40
“I will not geue ouer my hous,” she saithe,
  “Not for feare of my lyffe;
It shalbe talked throughout the land,
  The slaughter of a wyffe.
“Fetch me my pestilett, 4        45
  And charge me my gonne,
That I may shott at yonder bloddy butcher,
  The lord of Easter-towne.”
Styfly vpon her wall she stode,
  And lett the pellettes flee;        50
But then she myst the blody bucher,
  And she slew other three.
“[I will] not geue ouer my hous,” she saithe,
  “Netheir for lord nor lowne;
Nor yet for traitour Captaine Care,        55
  The lord of Easter-towne.
“I desire of Captaine Care,
  And all his bloddye band,
That he would saue my eldest sonne,
  The eare 5 of all my lande.”        60
“Lap him in a shete,” he sayth,
  “And let him downe to me,
And I shall take him in my armes,
  His waran 6 shall I be.”
The captayne sayd unto him selfe:        65
  Wyth sped, before the rest,
He cut his tonge out of his head,
  His hart out of his brest.
He lapt them in a handkerchef,
  And knet it of knotes three,        70
And cast them ouer the castell-wall,
  At that gay ladye.
“Fye vpon the, Captayne Care,
  And all thy bloddy band!
For thou hast slayne my eldest sonne,        75
  The ayre 7 of all my land.”
Then bespake the yongest sonne,
  That sat on the nurses knee,
Sayth, “Mother gay, geue ouer your house;
  It smoldereth me.”        80
“I wold geue my gold,” she saith,
  “And so I wolde my ffee, 8
For a blaste of the westryn wind,
  To dryue the smoke from thee.
“Fy vpon the, John Hamleton,        85
  That euer I paid the hyre!
For thou hast broken my castle-wall,
  And kyndled in the ffyre.”
The lady gate 9 to her close parler,
  The fire fell aboute her head;        90
She toke vp her children thre,
  Set, “Babes, we are all dead.”
Then bespake the hye steward,
  That is of hye degree;
Saith, “Ladie gay, you are in close,        95
  Wether ye fighte or flee.”
Lord Hamleton dremd in his dream,
  In Caruall where he laye,
His halle were all of fyre,
  His ladie slayne or daye.        100
“Busk 10 and bowne, 11 my mery men all,
  Even and go ye with me;
For I dremd that my haal was on fyre,
  My lady slayne or 12 day.”
He buskt him and bownd hym,        105
  And like a worthi knighte;
And when he saw his hall burning,
  His harte was no dele lighte.
He sett a trumpett till his mouth,
  He blew as it plesd his grace;        110
Twenty score of Hamlentons
  Was light aboute the place.
“Had I knowne as much yesternighte
  As I do to-daye,
Captaine Care and all his men        115
  Should not haue gone so quite.
“Fye vpon the, Captaine Care,
  And all thy blody bande!
Thou haste slayne my lady gay,
  More wurth then all thy lande.        120
“If thou had ought eny ill will,” he saith,
  “Thou shoulde haue taken my lyffe,
And haue saved my children, thre,
  All and my louesome wyffe.”
Note 1. Great.  [back]
Note 2. Grief. [back]
Note 3. Mad. [back]
Note 4. Such a one. [back]
Note 5. The refrain here, as often, has no significance for the story. [back]
Note 6. Leaned. [back]
Note 7. The refrain here, as often, has no significance for the story. [back]
Note 8. Agreement. [back]
Note 9. Pistolet. [back]
Note 10. Heir. [back]
Note 11. Warrant. [back]
Note 12. Property. [back]


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