Home  »  The Oxford Book of Ballads  »  50. Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944). The Oxford Book of Ballads. 1910.


50. Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

O WOW for day!

And, dear, gin it were day!

Gin it were day, and I were away—

For I ha’ na lang time to stay.


AS it fell on one holy-day,

As many be in the year,

When young men and maids together did go

Their matins and mass to hear,


Little Musgrave came to the church-door—

The priest was at private mass—

But he had more mind of the fair women

Then he had of Our Lady’s grace.


The one of them was clad in green,

Another was clad in pall,

And then came in my Lord Barnard’s wife,

The fairest amongst them all.


She cast an eye on Little Musgrave

As bright as the summer sun;

And then bethought him Little Musgrave,

‘This lady’s heart have I won.’


Quoth she, ‘I have loved thee, Little Musgrave,

Full long and many a day.’—

‘So have I loved you, fair ladye,

Yet never word durst I say.’—


‘But I have a bower at Bucklesfordberry,

Full daintily it is dight;

If thou’lt wend thither, thou Little Musgrave,

Thou’s lig in my arms all night.’


Quoth he, ‘I thank thee, fair ladye,

This kindness thou showest to me;

And whether it be to my weal or woe

This night I will lodge with thee.’


With that beheard a little tiny page,

By his lady’s coach as he ran.

Says, ‘Although I am my lady’s foot-page,

Yet I am Lord Barnard’s man.’


Then he’s cast off his hose and shoon,

Set down his feet and ran,

And where the bridges were broken down

He bent his bow and swam.


‘Awake! awake! thou Lord Barnard,

As thou art a man of life!

Little Musgrave is at Bucklesfordberry

Along with thy own wedded wife.’—


‘If this be true, thou little tiny page,

This thing thou tellest to me,

Then all the land in Bucklesfordberry

I freely will give to thee.


‘But if it be a lie, thou little tiny page,

This thing thou tellest to me,

On the highest tree in Bucklesfordberry

Then handèd shalt thou be.’


He callèd up his merry men all:

‘Come saddle me my steed;

This night must I to Bucklesfordberry,

For I never had greater need.’


But some they whistled, and some they sung,

And some they thus could say,

Whenever Lord Barnard’s horn it blew:

‘Away, Musgrave, away! …—


‘Methinks I hear the threstle cock,

Methinks I hear the jay;

Methinks I hear Lord Barnard’s horn,

Away, Musgrave, away!’—


‘Lie still, lie still, thou little Musgrave,

And huggle me from the cold;

’Tis nothing but a shepherd’s boy

A-driving his sheep to the fold.’


By this, Lord Barnard came to his door

And lighted a stone upon;

And he’s pull’d out three silver keys,

And open’d the doors each one.


He lifted up the coverlet,

He lifted up the sheet:

‘Dost thou like my bed, Little Musgrave?

Dost thou find my lady sweet?’—


‘I find her sweet,’ quoth Little Musgrave,

‘The more ’tis to my pain;

I would gladly give three hundred pounds

That I were on yonder plain.’—


‘Arise, arise, thou Little Musgrave,

And put thy clothès on;

It shall ne’er be said in my country

I have kill’d a naked man.


‘I have two swords in one scabbard,

They are both sharp and clear;

Take you the best, and I the worst,

We’ll end the matter here.’


The first stroke Little Musgrave struck,

He hurt Lord Barnard sore;

The next stroke that Lord Barnard struck,

Little Musgrave ne’er struck more.


With that bespake this fair lady,

In bed where as she lay:

‘Although thou’rt dead, thou Little Musgrave,

Yet I for thee will pray.


‘And wish well to thy soul will I

So long as I have life;

So will I not for thee, Barnard,

Although I’m thy wedded wife.’


He cut her paps from off her breast;

Great pity it was to see

That some drops of this lady’s heart’s blood

Ran trickling down her knee.


‘Woe worth you, woe worth, my merry men all,

You were ne’er born for my good!

Why did you not offer to stay my hand

When you saw me wax so wood?


‘For I have slain the fairest lady

That ever wore woman’s weed,

Soe I have slain the fairest lady

That ever did woman’s deed.


‘A grave, a grave,’ Lord Barnard cried,

‘To put these lovers in!

But lay my lady on the upper hand,

For she comes of the nobler kin.’

pall] fine cloth.lig] lie.wood] mad, fierce.