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

GLASGERION was a King’s own son,
  And a harper he was good;
He harpèd in the King’s chamber
  Where cup and candle stood,
And so did he in the Queen’s chamber,        5
  Till ladies waxèd wood.

And then bespake the King’s daughter
  And these words thus said she:
[‘There’s never a stroke comes over this harp,
  But it glads the heart of me.’]        10

Said, ‘Strike on, strike on, Glasgerion,
  Of thy striking do not blin;
There’s never a stroke comes over thine harp
  But it glads my heart within.’

‘Fair might you fall, lady,’ quoth he;
  ‘Who taught you now to speak?
I have loved you, lady, seven year;
  My heart I durst ne’er break.’—

‘But come to my bower, my Glasgerion,
  When all men are at rest;        20
As I am a lady true of my promise,
  Thou shalt be a welcome guest.’

But home then came Glasgerion,
  A glad man, Lord, was he!
‘And come thou hither, Jack, my boy,        25
  Come hither unto me.

‘For the King’s daughter of Normandye
  Her love is granted me;
And before the cock have crowen
  At her chamber must I be.’        30

‘But come you hither, master,’ quoth he,
  ‘Lay your head down on this stone;
For I will waken you, master dear,
  Afore it be time to gone.’

But up then rose that lither lad,
  And did on hose and shoon;
A collar he cast upon his neck,
  He seemèd a gentleman.

And when he came to that lady’s chamber
  He tirl’d upon a pin;        40
The lady was true of her promise,
  Rose up and let him in.

He did not kiss that lady gay
  When he came nor when he yode;
And sore mistrusted that lady gay        45
  He was of some churle’s blood.

But home then came that lither lad,
  And did off his hose and shoon,
And cast that collar from ’bout his neck;
  He was but a churlè’s son:        50
‘Awaken,’ quoth he, ‘my master dear,
  I hold it time to be gone.

‘For I have saddled your horse, master,
  Well bridled I have your steed;
Have not I served a good breakfast        55
  When time comes I have need?’

But up then rose good Glasgerion,
  And did on both hose and shoon,
And cast a collar about his neck;
  He was a Kingé’s son.        60

And when he came to that lady’s chamber,
  He tirl’d upon a pin;
The lady was more than true of her promise,
  Rose up, and let him in.

Says, ‘Whether have you left with me
  Your bracelet or your glove?
Or are you back return’d again
  To know more of my love?’

Glasgerion swore a full great oath
  By oak and ash and thorn,        70
‘Lady, I was never in your chamber
  Sith the time that I was born.’—

‘O then it was your little foot-page
  Falsely hath beguiled me’:
And then she pull’d forth a little pen-knife        75
  That hangèd by her knee,
Says, ‘There shall never no churlè’s blood
  Spring within my bodye.’

But home then went Glasgerion,
  A woe man, Lord, was he;        80
Sayes, ‘Come hither, thou Jack, my boy,
  Come thou hither to me.

‘For if I had kill’d a man to-night,
  Jack, I would tell it thee,
But if I have not kill’d a man to-night,        85
  Jack, thou hast killéd three!’

And he pull’d out his bright brown sword,
  And dried it on his sleeve,
And he smote off that lither lad’s head
  And ask’d no man no leave.        90

He set the sword’s point till his breast,
  The pommel till a stone;
Through the falseness of that lither lad
  These three lives wern all gone.
GLOSS:  plat] pleated.  wood] crazy, wild with delight.  blin] stint, cease.  lither] rascally, vile.  tirl’d] rattled.  yode] went.


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