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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Childe Maurice
The Ballad
 
(See full text.)

1.  CHILDE MAURICE 1 hunted i’ the silver wood,
      He hunted it round about,
  And noebodye that he found therein,
      Nor none there was without.
 
2.  He says, “Come hither, thou little foot-page,        5
      That runneth lowlye by my knee,
  For thou shalt goe to John Steward’s wife
      And pray her speake with me.”
 
3.  “*        *        *        *        *
      *        *        *        *        *        10
  I, and greete thou doe that ladye well,
      Ever soe well fro me.
 
4.  “And, as it falls, as many times
      As knots beene knit on a kell, 2
  Or marchant men gone to leeve London        15
      Either to buy ware or sell.
 
5.  “And, as it falles, as many times
      As any hart can thinke,
  Or schoole-masters are in any schoole-house
      Writing with pen and inke:        20
  For if I might, as well as she may,
      This night I would with her speake.
 
6.  “And heere I send her a mantle of greene,
      As greene as any grasse,
  And bid her come to the silver wood,        25
      To hunt with Child Maurice.
 
7.  “And there I send her a ring of gold,
      A ring of precious stone,
  And bid her come to the silver wood,
      Let 3 for no kind of man.”        30
 
8.  One while this little boy he yode, 4
      Another while he ran,
  Until he came to John Steward’s hall,
      I-wis 5 he never blan. 6
 
9.  And of nurture the child had good,        35
      He ran up hall and bower free,
  And when he came to this ladye faire,
      Sayes, “God you save and see! 7
 
10.  “I am come from Child Maurice,
      A message unto thee;        40
  And Child Maurice, he greetes you well,
      And ever soe well from me.
 
11.  “And as it falls, as oftentimes
      As knots beene knit on a kell,
  Or marchant men gone to leeve London        45
      Either for to buy ware or sell.
 
12.  “And as oftentimes he greetes you well
      As any hart can thinke,
  Or schoolemasters are in any schoole,
      Wryting with pen and inke.        50
 
13.  “And heere he sends a mantle of greene, 8
      As greene as any grasse,
  And he bids you come to the silver wood,
      To hunt with Child Maurice.
 
14.  “And heere he sends you a ring of gold,        55
      A ring of the precious stone;
  He prayes you to come to the silver wood,
      Let for no kind of man.”
 
15.  “Now peace, now peace, thou little foot-page,
      For Christes sake, I pray thee!        60
  For if my lord heare one of these words,
      Thou must be hanged hye!”
 
16.  John Steward stood under the castle wall,
      And he wrote the words everye one,
  *        *        *        *        *        65
      *        *        *        *        *
 
17.  And he called upon his hors-keeper,
      “Make ready you my steede!”
  I, and soe he did to his chamberlaine,
      “Make ready thou my weede! 9        70
 
18.  And he cast a lease 10 upon his backe,
      And he rode to the silver wood,
  And there he sought all about,
      About the silver wood.
 
19.  And there he found him Child Maurice        75
      Sitting upon a blocke,
  With a silver combe in his hand,
      Kembing his yellow lockes.
*        *        *        *        *
20.  But then stood up him Child Maurice,
      And sayd these words trulye:        80
  “I doe not know your ladye,” he said,
      “If that I doe her see.”
 
21.  He sayes, “How now, how now, Child Maurice?
      Alacke, how may this be?
  For thou hast sent her love-tokens,        85
      More now then two or three;
 
22.  “For thou hast sent her a mantle of greene,
      As greene as any grasse,
  And bade her come to the silver woode
      To hunt with Child Maurice.        90
 
23.  “And thou hast sent her a ring of gold,
      A ring of precyous stone,
  And bade her come to the silver wood,
      Let for no kind of man.
 
24.  “And by my faith, now, Child Maurice,        95
      The tone 11 of us shall dye!”
  “Now be my troth,” sayd Child Maurice,
      “And that shall not be I.”
 
25.  But he pulled forth a bright browne 12 sword,
      And dryed it on the grasse,        100
  And soe fast he smote at John Steward,
      I-wisse he never did rest.
 
26.  Then he 13 pulled forth his bright browne sword,
      And dryed it on his sleeve,
  And the first good stroke John Stewart stroke,        105
      Child Maurice head he did cleeve.
 
27.  And he pricked it on his sword’s poynt,
      Went singing there beside,
  And he rode till he came to that ladye faire,
      Whereas this ladye lyed. 14        110
 
28.  And sayes, “Dost thou know Child Maurice head,
      If that thou dost it see?
  And lap it soft, and kisse it oft,
      For thou lovedst him better than me.”
 
29.  But when she looked on Child Maurice head,        115
      She never spake words but three:—
  “I never beare no childe but one,
      And you have slaine him trulye.”
 
30.  Sayes, 15 “Wicked be my merrymen all,
      I gave meate, drinke, and clothe!        120
  But could they not have holden me
      When I was in all that wrath!
 
31.  “For I have slaine one of the curteousest knights
      That ever bestrode a steed,
  So 16 have I done one of the fairest ladyes        125
      That ever ware woman’s weede!”
 
Note 1. It is worth while to quote Gray’s praise of this ballad:—“I have got the old Scotch ballad on which ‘Douglas’ [the well-known tragedy by Home] was founded. It is divine…. Aristotle’s best rules are observed in a manner which shows the author never had heard of Aristotle.”—Letter to Mason, in ‘Works,’ ed. Gosse, ii. 316. [back]
Note 2. That is, the page is to greet the lady as many times as there are knots in nets for the hair (kell), or merchants going to dear (leeve, lief) London, or thoughts of the heart, or schoolmasters in all schoolhouses. These multiplied and comparative greetings are common in folk-lore, particularly in German popular lyric. [back]
Note 3. Let (desist) is an infinitive depending on bid. [back]
Note 4. Went, walked. [back]
Note 5. Certainly. [back]
Note 6. Stopped. [back]
Note 7. Protect. [back]
Note 8. These, of course, are tokens of the Childe’s identity. [back]
Note 9. Clothes. [back]
Note 10. Leash. [back]
Note 11. That one = the one. That is the old neuter form of the definite article. Cf. the tother for that other. [back]
Note 12. Brown, used in this way, seems to mean burnished, or glistening, and is found in Anglo-Saxon. [back]
Note 13. He, John Steward. [back]
Note 14. Lived. [back]
Note 15. John Steward. [back]
Note 16. Compare the similar swiftness of tragic development in ‘Babylon.’ [back]
 
 
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