Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Sweet William’s Ghost
The Ballad
1.  WHAN bells war rung, an mass was sung,
      A wat 1 a’ man to bed were gone,
  Clark Sanders came to Margret’s window,
      With mony a sad sigh and groan.
2.  “Are ye sleeping, Margret,” he says,        5
      “Or are ye waking, presentlie?
  Give me my faith and trouth again,
      A wat, true-love, I gied to thee.”
3.  “Your faith and trouth ye’s never get,
      Nor our true love shall never twin, 2        10
  Till ye come with me in my bower,
      And kiss me both cheek and chin.”
4.  “My mouth it is full cold, Margret,
      It has the smell now of the ground;
  And if I kiss thy comely mouth,        15
      Thy life-days will not be long.”
5.  “Cocks are crowing a merry mid-larf, 3
      I wat the wild fule boded day;
  Give me my faith and trouth again,
      And let me fare me on my way.”        20
6.  “Thy faith and trouth thou shall na get,
      Nor our true love shall never twin,
  Till ye tell me what comes of women
      A wat that dy’s in strong traveling.” 4
7.  “Their beds are made in the heavens high,        25
      Down at the foot of our good Lord’s knee,
  Well set about wi’ gilly-flowers,
      A wat sweet company for to see.
8.  “O cocks are crowing a merry mid-larf,
      A wat the wild fule boded day;        30
  The salms of Heaven will be sung,
      And ere now I’ll be missed away.”
9.  Up she has taen a bright long wand,
      And she has straked her trouth thereon; 5
  She has given it him out at the shot-window,        35
      Wi mony a sad sigh and heavy groan.
10.  “I thank you, Margret, I thank you, Margret,
      And I thank you heartilie;
  Gin ever the dead come for the quick,
      Be sure, Margret, I’ll come again for thee.”        40
11.  It’s hose and shoon an gound 6 alane
      She clame the wall and followed him,
  Until she came to a green forest,
      On this she lost the sight of him.
12.  “Is there any room at your head, Sanders?        45
      Is there any room at your feet?
  Or any room at your twa sides?
      Where fain, fain woud I sleep.”
13.  “There is nae room at my head, Margret,
      There is nae room at my feet;        50
  There is room at my twa sides,
      For ladys for to sleep.
14.  “Cold meal 7 is my covering owre,
      But an 8 my winding sheet:
  My bed it is full low, I say,        55
      Among hungry worms I sleep.
15.  “Cold meal is my covering owre,
      But an my winding sheet:
  The dew it falls nae sooner down
      Than ay it is full weet.”        60
Note 1. “I wot,” “I know,” = truly, in sooth. The same in ll. 18, 24, 28, and 30. [back]
Note 2. Part, separate. She does not yet know he is dead. [back]
Note 3. Probably the distorted name of a town; a = in. “Cocks are crowing in merry——, and the wild-fowl announce the dawn.” [back]
Note 4. That die in childbirth. [back]
Note 5. Margaret thus gives him back his troth-plight by “stroking” it upon the wand, much as savages and peasants believe they can rid themselves of a disease by rubbing the affected part with a stick or pebble and flinging the latter into the road. [back]
Note 6. Gown. [back]
Note 7. Mold, earth. [back]
Note 8. But and = also. [back]

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