Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
45. Young Beichan
(Another version of the foregoing)

IN London was Young Beichan born,
  He long’d strange countries for to see;
But he was ta’en by a savage Moor
  Who handled him right cruellie.

For he view’d the fashions of that land,
  Their way of worship viewèd he;
But to Mahound or Termagant
  Would Beichan never bend a knee.

So thro’ every shoulder they’ve bored a bore,
  And thro’ every bore they’ve putten a tree,        10
And they have made him trail the wine
  And spices on his fair bodie.

They’ve casten him in a dungeon deep,
  Where he could neither hear nor see;
And fed him on nought but bread and water        15
  Till he for hunger’s like to die.

This Moor he had but ae daughter,
  Her name was callèd Susie Pye,
And every day as she took the air
  She heard Young Beichan sadly crie:        20

‘My hounds they all run masterless,
  My hawks they flie from tree to tree,
My youngest brother will heir my lands;
  Fair England again I’ll never see!

‘O were I free as I hae been,
  And my ship swmming once more on sea,
I’d turn my face to fair England
  And sail no more to a strange countrie!’

Young Beichan’s song for thinking on
  All night she never closed her e’e;        30
She’s stown the keys from her father’s head
  Wi’ mickle gold and white monie.

And she has open’d the prison doors:
  I wot she open’d twa or three
Ere she could come Young Beichan at,        35
  He was lock’d up so curiouslie.

‘O hae ye any lands or rents,
  Or cities in your own countrie,
Cou’d free you out of prison strong
  And cou’d maintain a lady free?’—        40

‘O London city is my own,
  And other cities twa or three;
I’ll give them all to the lady fair
  That out of prison will set me free.’

O she has bribed her father’s men
  Wi’ mickle gold and white monie,
She’s gotten the keys of the prison strong,
  And she has set Young Beichan free.

She’s fed him upon the good spice-cake,
  The Spanish wine and the malvoisie;        50
She’s broken a ring from off her finger
  And to Beichan half of it gave she.

‘Go set your foot on good shipboard,
  And haste you back to your own countrie,
But before that seven years has an end,        55
  Come back again, love, and marry me.’

It was long or seven years had an end
  She long’d full sore her love to see;
So she’s set her foot on good ship-board
  And turn’d her back on her own countrie.        60

She’s sailèd east, she’s sailèd west,
  She’s sailèd all across the sea,
And when she came to fair England
  The bells were ringing merrilie.

‘O whose are a’ yon flock o’ sheep?
  And whose are a’ yon flock o’ kye?
And whose are a’ yon pretty castles,
  That I so often do pass by?’

‘O they are a’ Lord Beichan’s sheep,
  And they are a’ Lord Beichan’s kye,        70
And they are a’ Lord Beichan’s castles
  That you so often do pass by.

‘O there’s a wedding in yonder he’,
  Has lasted thirty days and three;
Lord Beichan will not bed wi’ his bride        75
  For love of one that’s ’yond the sea.’

When she came to Young Beichan’s gate
  She tirlèd softly at the pin;
So ready was the proud portèr
  To open and let this lady in.        80

‘Is this Young Beichan’s gates?’ she says,
  ‘Or is that noble lord within?’—
‘He ’s up the stairs wi’ his bonny bride,
  For this is the day o’ his weddin’.’—

‘O has he taken a bonny bride,
  And has he clean forgotten me?’
And sighing said that ladye gay,
  ‘I wish I were in my own countrie!’

She’s putten her hand in her pockèt
  And gi’en the porter guineas three;        90
Says, ‘Take ye that, ye proud portèr,
  And bid the bridegroom speak with me.’

And she has ta’en her gay gold ring,
  That with her love she brake so free;
Says, ‘Gie him that, ye proud portèr,        95
  And bid the bridegroom speak with me.’

O when the porter came up the stair,
  He’s kneelèd low upon his knee:
‘Won up, won up, ye proud portèr,
  And what makes a’ this courtesie?’—        100

‘O I’ve been porter at your gates
  I’m sure this thirty years and three,
But there is a lady stands thereat
  The fairest I did ever see.’

It’s out then spake the bride’s mother,
  —Aye, and an angry woman was she—
‘Ye might have excepted our bonny bride,
  And twa or three of our companie.’

‘My dame, your daughter’s fair enough,
  And aye the fairer mote she be!        110
But the fairest time that ever she was,
  She’ll no compare wi’ this ladye.

‘For on every finger she has a ring,
  And on the mid-finger she has three,
And as mickle gold she has on her brow        115
  ’Would buy an earldome o’ land to me.

‘And this golden ring that’s broken in twa,
  She sends the half o’ this golden ring,
And bids you speak with a lady fair,
  That out o’ prison did you bring.’        120

Then up and started Young Beichan
  And sware so loud by Our Ladue,
‘It can be none but Susie Pye,
  That has come over the sea to me!

O quickly ran he down the stair,
  Of fifteen steps he made but three;
He’s ta’en his bonny love in his arms
  And kiss’d and kiss’d her tenderlie.

‘O have ye ta’en another bride,
  And have ye quite forsaken me?        130
And have ye clean forgotten her
  That gave you life and libertie?’

She’s lookèd over her left shoulder
  To hide the tears stood in her e’e;
‘Now fare-thee-well, Young Beichan,’ she says—        135
  ‘I’ll strive to think no more on thee.’

‘O never, never, Susie Pye,
  For surely this can never be,
That ever I shall wed but her
  That’s done and dreed so much for me!’        140

Then up bespake the bride’s mother—
  She never was heard to speak so free:
‘Ye’ll not forsake my only daughter,
  Though Susie Pye has cross’d the sea.’

‘Take home, take home your daughter, madam,
  She’s never a bit the worse for me;
For saving a kiss of her bonny lips
  Of your daughter’s body I am free.’

He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand
  And led her to yon fountain-stone;        150
He’s changed her name from Susie Pye
  And call’d her his bonny love Lady Joan.
GLOSS:  stown] stolen.  kye] kine, cattle.  tirlèd] rattled.  won] win, get.  dreed] suffered.


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