Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
161. The Spanish Lady’s Love

  WILL you hear a Spanish lady
  How she woo’d an English man?
  Garments gay and rich as may be,
    Decked with jewels, she had on;
Of a comely countenance and grace was she,        5
And by birth and parentage of high degree.

  As his prisoner there he kept her,
    In his hands her life did lie;
  Cupid’s bands did tie her faster,
    By the liking of an eye;        10
In his courteous company was all her joy,
To favour him in any thing she was not coy.

  At the last there came commandment
    For to set the ladies free,
  With their jewels still adornèd,        15
    None to do them injury:
‘Alas!’ then said this lady gay, ‘full woe is me;
O let me still sustain this kind captivity!

  ‘Gallant captain, show some pity
    To a lady in distress;        20
  Leave me not within this city,
    For to die in heaviness;
Thou hast set this present day my body free,
But my heart in prison strong remains with thee.’—

  ‘How should’st thou, fair lady, love me,
    Whom thou know’st thy country’s foe?
  Thy fair words make me suspect thee;
    Serpents lie where flowers grow.’—
‘All the harm I think to thee, most gracious knight,
God grant unto myself the same may fully light:        30

  ‘Blessèd be the time and season
    That you came on Spanish ground;
  If our foes you may be termèd,
    Gentle foes we have you found.
With our city you have won our hearts each one;        35
Then to your country bear away that is your own.’—

  ‘Rest you still, most gallant lady,
    Rest you still, and weep no more;
  Of fair lovers there are plenty;
    Spain doth yield a wondrous store.’—        40
‘Spaniards fraught with jealousy we often find,
But Englishmen through all the world are counted kind.

  ‘Leave me not unto a Spaniard;
    You alone enjoy my heart;
  I am lovely, young, and tender,        45
    And so love is my desart.
Still to serve thee day and night my mind is press’d;
The wife of every Englishman is counted blest.’—

  ‘It would be a shame, fair lady,
    For to bear a woman hence;        50
  English soldiers never carry
    Any such without offence.’—
‘I will quickly change myself if it be so,
And like a page I’ll follow thee where’er thou go.’—

  ‘I have neither gold nor silver
    To maintain thee in this case,
  And to travel, ’tis great charges,
    As you know, in every place.’—
‘My chains and jewels every one shall be thine own,
And eke five hundred pounds in gold that lies unknown.’—        60

  On the seas are many dangers;
    Many storms do there arise,
  Which will be to ladies dreadful,
    And force tears from watery eyes.’—
‘Well in truth I shall endure extremity,        65
For I could find in heart to lose my life for thee.’—

  ‘Courteous lady, leave this fancy;
    Here comes all that breeds the strife;
  I in England have already
    A sweet woman to my wife:        70
I will not falsify my vow for gold or gain,
Nor yet for all the fairest dames that live in Spain.’—

  ‘Oh how happy is that woman,
    That enjoys so true a friend!
  Many happy days God send you!        75
    Of my suit I’ll make an end:
On my knees I pardon crave for this offence,
Which did from love and true affection first commence.

  ‘Commend me to thy loving lady:
    Bear to her this chain of gold,        80
  And these bracelets for a token;
    Grieving that I was so bold.
All my jewels in like sort bear thou with thee,
For they are fitting for thy wife, but not for me.

  ‘I will spend my days in prayer,
    Love and all his laws defy,
  In a nunnery will I shroud me,
    Far from any company:
But ere my prayers have end, be sure of this,
To pray for thee and for thy love I will not miss.        90

  ‘Thus farewell, most gentle captain,
    Farewell too my heart’s content!
  Count not Spanish ladies wayward,
    Though to thee my love was bent:
Joy and true prosperity go still with thee!’—        95
‘The like fall ever to thy share, most fair lady!’


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