Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
3. Sir Cawline

JESUS, Lord mickle of might,
  That dyed for us on roode,
So maintaine us in all our right
  That loves true English blood!

Sir Cawline [was an English knight]
  Curteous and full hardye;
[And our King has lent him] forth to fight,
  Into Ireland over the sea.

And in that land there dwells a King,
  Over all the bell does beare;        10
And he hath a ladye to his daughter,
  Of fashion she hath no peere;
Knights and lordes they woo’d her both,
  Trusted to have been her feere.

Sir Cawline loves her best of onie,
  But nothing durst he say
To discreeve his councell to no man,
  But dearlye loved this may.

Till it befell upon a day,
  Great dill to him was dight;        20
The mayden’s love removed his mind,
  To care-bed went the knight.

One while he spread his armes him fro,
  And cryed so pittyouslye:
‘For the mayden’s love that I have most minde        25
  This day shall comfort mee,
Or else ere noone I shall be dead!’
  Thus can Sir Cawline say.

When the parish mass that itt was done,
  And the King was bowne to dine,        30
Says, ‘Where is Sir Cawline, that was wont
  To serve me with ale and wine?’

But then answer’d a curteous knight
  Fast his hands wringìnge:
‘Sir Cawline’s sicke and like to be dead        35
  Without and a good leechìnge.’

‘Feitch ye downe my daughter deere,
  She is a leeche full fine;
Ay, and take you doe and the baken bread,
  And [drinke he of] the wine soe red,        40
And looke no daynty’s for him too deare,
  For full loth I wo’ld him tine.’

This ladye is gone to his chamber,
  Her maydens following nye;
‘O well,’ she saith, ‘how doth my lord?’        45
  ‘O sicke!’ againe saith hee.

‘But rise up wightlye, man, for shame!
  Ne’er lie here soe cowardlye!
Itt is told in my father’s hall
  For my love you will dye.’—        50

‘Itt is for your love, fayre ladye,
  That all this dill I drie;
For if you wo’ld comfort me with a kisse,
Then were I brought from bale to bliss,
  No longer here wo’ld I lye.’—        55

‘Alas! soe well you know, Sir Knight,
  I cannot be your feere.’—
‘Yet some deeds of armes fain wo’ld I doe
  To be your bacheleere.’—

‘On Eldritch Hill there grows a thorn,
  Upon the mores brodinge;
And wo’ld you, Sir Knight, wake there all night
  To day of the other morninge?

‘For the Eldritch King, that is mickle of might,
  Will examine you beforne:        65
There was never a man bare his life away
  Since the day that I was born.’—

‘But I will for your sake, ladye,
  Walk on the bents soe browne,
And I’ll either bring you a readye token,        70
  Or I’ll ne’er come to you again.’

But this ladye is gone to her chamber,
  Her maydens following bright;
And Sir Cawline’s gone to the mores soe broad,
  For to wake there all night.        75

Unto midnight that the moone did rise
  He walkèd up and downe,
And a lightsome bugle then heard he blow
  Over the bents so browne;
Sayes he, ‘And if cryance come to my heart,        80
  I am farr from any good towne.’

And he spyèd, e’en a little him by,
  A furyous king and a fell,
And a ladye bright his brydle led
  [More] seemlye [than onie can tell].        85

Soe fast he call’d on Sir Cawline,
  ‘O man, I rede thee flye!
For if cryance come untill thy heart
  I’m afeard lest thou maun dye!’—

He sayes, ‘No cryance comes to my heart,
  Nor i’faith I fear not thee;
For because thou ming’d not Christ before,
  The lesse me dreadeth thee.’

But Sir Cawline then he shooke a speare;
  The King was bold, and abode:        95
And the timber those two children bare
  Soe soon in sunder slode:
Forth they tooke and two good swords,
  And they layden on good loade.

The Eldritch King was mickle of might,
  And stiffly to the ground did stand;
But Sir Cawline with an aukeward stroke
  He brought from him his hand—
Ay, and flying over his head so hye
  It fell down of that lay land.        105

His ladye stood a little thereby,
  Fast her hands wringìnge:
‘For the mayden’s love that you have most minde,
  Smyte you noe more [this King].

‘And he’s never come upon Eldritch Hill
  Him to sport, gammon or play,
And to meet no man of middle-earth
  That lives on Christ his lay.’

But he then up, that Eldritch King,
  Set him in his sadle againe,        115
And that Eldritch King and his ladye
  To their castle are they gone.

Sir Cawline took up that eldritch sword
  As hard as any flynt,
Soe did he [the hand with] ringès five        120
  Harder than fyer, and brent.

The watchmen cryed upon the walls
  And sayd, ‘Sir Cawline’s slaine!’
Then the King’s daughter she fell downe,
  ‘For peerlesse is my payne!’—        125

‘O peace, my ladye!’ sayes Sir Cawline,
  ‘I have bought thy love full deare;
O peace, my ladye!’ sayes Sir Cawline,
  ‘Peace, ladye, for I am heere!’

He’s presented to the King’s daughter
  The hand, and then the sword
[And he has claimed the King’s daughter
  According to her word].

And the King has betaken him his broad lands
  And all his venison;        135
[Sayes] ‘Thou shalt have my daughter deare,
  [And be my onelye son’].
GLOSS:  fashion] form, beauty.  feere] mate, consort.  discreeve] discover.  may] maid.  dill] dole, grief.  dight] ordained.  care-bed] sick-bed.  bowne] made ready, gone.  without and, & c.] unless he have a good leech, or physician.  tine] lose.  wightlye] briskly, stoutly.  mores] moors.  brodinge] growing, sprouting.  examine] put to the test.  beforne] before (morning).  bents] rough grasses.  cryance] yielding, cowardice.  ming’d] mentioned, spoke the name of.  slode] split.  good loade] heavily  aukeward] back-handed.  lay land] lea, land not under cultivation; here = ground.  he’s never] he will never.  middle-earth] this earth, as midway between heaven and hell.  lay] law, faith.  brent] smooth.  betaken] given, made over.  venison] i.e. deer-forests.


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