Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
175. The Suffolk Miracle
 
 
I

A WONDER stranger ne’er was known
Than what I now shall treat upon.
In Suffolk there did lately dwell
A farmer rich and known full well.
 
II

He had a daughter fair and bright,
        5
On whom he placed his chief delight;
Her beauty was beyond compare,
She was both virtuous and fair.
 
III

A young man there was living by,
Who was so charmèd with her eye,        10
That he could never be at rest;
He was by love so much possest.
 
IV

He made address to her, and she
Did grant him love immediately;
But when her father came to hear,        15
He parted her and her poor dear.
 
V

Forty miles distant was she sent,
Unto his brother’s, with intent
That she should there so long remain,
Till she had changed her mind again.        20
 
VI

Hereat this young man sadly grieved,
But knew not how to be relieved;
He sigh’d and sobb’d continually
That his true love he could not see.
 
VII

She by no means could to him send,
        25
Who was her heart’s espousèd friend;
He sigh’d, he grieved, but all in vain,
For she confined must still remain.
 
VIII

He mourn’d so much that doctor’s art
Could give no ease unto his heart,        30
Who was so strangely terrified
That in short time for love he died.
 
IX

She that from him was sent away
Knew nothing of his dying day;
But constant still she did remain,        35
And loved the dead, although in vain.
 
X

After he had in grave been laid
A month or more, unto this maid
He comes in middle of the night,
Who joy’d to see her heart’s delight.        40
 
XI

Her father’s horse which well she knew,
Her mother’s hood and safeguard too,
He brought with him to testify
Her parents’ order he came by.
 
XII

Which when her uncle understood,
        45
He hoped it would be for her good,
And gave consent to her straightway
That with him she should come away.
 
XIII

When she was got her love behind,
They pass’d as swift as any wind,        50
That in two hours, or little more,
He brought her to her father’s door.
 
XIV

But as they did this great haste make,
He did complain his head did ache;
Her handkerchief she then took out,        55
And tied the same his head about.
 
XV

And unto him she thus did say:
‘Thou art as cold as any clay,
When we come home a fire we’ll have’;
But little dream’d he went to grave.        60
 
XVI

Soon were they at her father’s door,
And after she ne’er saw him more;
‘I’ll set the horse up,’ then he said,
And there he left this harmless maid.
 
XVII

She knock’d, and straight a man he cried,
        65
‘Who’s there?’ ‘’Tis I,’ she then replied;
Who wonder’d much her voice to hear,
And was possest with dread and fear.
 
XVIII

Her father he did tell, and then
He stared like an affrighted man:        70
Down stairs he ran, and when he see her,
Cried out, ‘My child, how cam’st thou here?’
 
XIX

‘Pray, sir, did you not send for me
By such a messenger?’ said she:
Which made his hair stand on his head,        75
As knowing well that he was dead.
 
XX

‘Where is he?’ then to her he said.—
‘He’s in the stable,’ quoth the maid.—
‘Go in,’ said he, ‘and go to bed;
I’ll see the horse well litterèd.’        80
 
XXI

He stared about, and there could he
No shape of any mankind see,
But found his horse all on a sweat;
Which made him in a deadly fret.
 
XXII

His daughter he said nothing to,
        85
Nor no-one else (though well they knew
That he was dead a month before),
For fear of grieving her full sore.
 
XXIII

Her father to his father went
Who was deceased, with full intent        90
To tell him what his daughter said;
So both came back unto this maid.
 
XXIV

They ask’d her, and she still did say
’Twas he that then brought her away;
Which when they heard, they were amazed,        95
And on each other strangely gazed.
 
XXV

A handkerchief she said she tied
About his head, and that they tried;
The sexton they did speak unto
That he the grave would then undo.        100
 
XXVI

Affrighted then they did behold
His body turning into mould,
And though he had a month been dead
This kerchief was about his head.
 
XXVII

This thing unto her then they told,
        105
And the whole truth they did unfold.
She was thereat so terrified
And grieved, she quickly after died.
 
GLOSS:  safeguard] riding-skirt.
 

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