Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
16. King Henry
 
 
I

LET never a man a wooing wend
  That lacketh thingis three;
A routh o’ gold, an open heart
  And fu’ o’ courtesye.
 
II

As this I speak of King Henry,
        5
  For he lay burd-alone;
An’ he’s doen him to a jelly hunt’s ha’
  Was seven mile frae a town.
 
III

He’s chased the deer down him before,
  An’ the roe down by the den,        10
Till the fattest buck in a’ the flock
  King Henry he has slain.
 
IV

O he has doen him to his ha’
  To make him bierly cheer;
An’ in it came a griesly ghost        15
  Steed stappin’ i’ the fleer.
 
V

Her head hat the roof-tree o’ the house,
  Her middle ye weel mot span;
He’s thrown to her his gay mantle,
  Says, ‘Lady, hap your lingcan.’        20
 
VI

Her teeth were a’ like teather stakes,
  Her nose like club or mell;
An’ I ken naething she ’pear’d to be
  But the fiend that wons in hell.
 
VII

‘Some meat, some meat, ye King Henry,
        25
  Some meat ye gie to me!’—
‘An’ what meat’s in this house, ladye,
  That ye’re not welcome tae?’—
‘O ye’se gae kill your berry-brown steed,
  And serve him up to me.’        30
 
VIII

O whan he slew his berry-brown steed,
  Wow but his heart was sair!
She ate him a’ up, skin an’ bane,
  Left naething but hide an’ hair.
 
IX

‘Mair meat, mair meat, ye King Henry,
        35
  Mair meat ye gie to me!’—
‘An’ what meat’s in this house, ladye,
  That ye’re not welcome tae?’—
‘O do ye slay your good grey-hounds
  An’ bring them a’ to me.’        40
 
X

O whan he slew his good grey-hounds,
  Wow but his heart was sair!
She ate them a’ up, skin an’ bane,
  Left naething but hide an’ hair.
 
XI

‘Mair meat, mair meat, ye King Henry,
        45
  Mair meat ye gie to me!’—
‘An’ what meat’s in this house, ladye,
  That ye’re not welcome tae?’—
‘O do ye kill your gay goss-hawks
  An’ bring them a’ to me.’        50
 
XII

O whan he fell’d his gay goss-hawks,
  Wow but his heart was sair!
She’s ate them a’ up, skin an’ bane,
  Left naethin’ but feathers bare.
 
XIII

‘Some drink, some drink, now, King Henry,
        55
  Some drink ye bring to me!’—
‘O what drink’s in this house, ladye,
  That ye’re not welcome tae?’—
‘O ye sew up your horse’s hide,
  An’ bring in drink to me.’        60
 
XIV

O he’s sew’d up the bluidy hide,
  A puncheon o’ wine put in;
She’s drunk it a’ up at a waught,
  Left na ae drap ahin’.
 
XV

‘A bed, a bed, now King Henry,
        65
  A bed ye’se mak’ to me!’—
‘An’ what’s the bed in this house, ladye,
  That ye’re not welcome tae?’—
‘O ye maun pu’ the heather green,
  An’ mak’ a bed to me.’        70
 
XVI

Syne pu’d he has the heather green,
  An’ made to her a bed,
An’ up has he ta’en his gay mantle,
  An’ o’er it he has spread.
 
XVII

‘Tak’ off your claiths now, King Henry,
        75
  An’ lie down by my side!’—
‘O God forbid,’ says King Henry,
  ‘That ever the like betide;
That ever a fiend that wons in hell
  Shou’d streak down by my side!’        80
 
XVIII

But whan day was come, and night was gane,
  An’ the sun shone thro’ the ha’,
The fairest ladye that ever was seen
  [Cam’ to his armès twa].
 
XIX

‘O weel is me!’ says King Henry,
        85
  ‘How lang ’ll this last wi’ me?’
Then out an’ spake that fair ladye,
  ‘Even till the day you dee.
 
XX

‘For I’ve met wi’ many a gentle knight
  That’s gien me sic a fill;        90
But never before wi’ a courteous knight
  That ga’e me a’ my will.’
 
GLOSS:  routh] plenty.  burd-alone] lone as a maid.  jelly] jolly. jovial.  bierly] stout, handsome.  fleer] floor.  hat] hit.  mot] might.  hap] cover.  lingcan for lycam] body.  teather stakes] tether pegs.  mell] mallet.  wons] dwells.  ye’se gae] you shall go.  waught] draught.  ahin’] behind.  streak] stretch.
 

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