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.
 
62. Fair Margaret and Sweet William
 
 
I

AS it fell out on a long summer’s day,
  Two lovers they sat on a hill:
They sat together that long summer’s day,
  And could not talk their fill.
 
II

‘I see no harm by you, Margaret,
        5
  Nor you see none by me;
Before to-morrow eight o’clock
  A rich wedding shall you see.’
 
III

Fair Margaret sat in her bower-window
  Combing her yellow hair,        10
She saw Sweet William and his brown bride
  Unto the church draw near.
 
IV

Then down she laid her ivory comb,
  And up she bound her hair;
She went out from her bower alive        15
  But alive never more came there.
 
V

When day was gone, and night was come,
  And all men fast asleep,
Came in the ghost of fair Margaret,
  And stood at William’s feet.        20
 
VI

‘How like ye the lady, Sweet William,
  That lies in your arms asleep?
God give you joy of your gay bride-bed,
  And me of my winding-sheet!’
 
VII

When night was gone, and day was come,
        25
  And all men waked from sleep,
His lady said to Sweet William,
  ‘My dear, I have cause to weep:
 
VIII

‘I dream’d a dream, Sweet William,
  That seldom comes to good:        30
My bower was fill’d with wild-wood swine,
  And our bride-bed full of blood.’
 
IX

He callèd up his merry men all,
  By one, by two, by three.
Saying, ‘I’ll away to Fair Margaret’s bower,        35
  With the leave of my ladye.’
 
X

And when he came to Fair Margaret’s bower
  He knockèd at the ring;
And who so ready as her seven brothers
  To rise and let him in?        40
 
XI

‘O, is she in the parlour?’ he said,
  ‘Or is she in the hall?
Or is she in the long chamber
  Amongst her merry maids all?’—
 
XII

‘No, she’s not in the parlour,’ they said.
        45
  ‘Nor she’s not in the hall:
But she is in the long chamber,
  Laid out against the wall.’—
 
XIII

He turnèd up the covering-sheet,
  And look’d upon the dead.        50
‘Methinks her lips are pale and wan,
  She has lost her cherry red.’
 
XIV

With that bespake the seven brothers,
  Making a piteous moan:
‘You may go kiss your jolly brown bride,        55
  And let our sister alone.’—
 
XV

‘If I do kiss my jolly brown bride,
  I do but what is right;
For I made no vow to your sister dear,
  By day nor yet by night.        60
 
XVI

‘Deal on, deal on, my merry men all,
  Deal on your cake and wine!
For whatever is dealt at her funeral to-day
  Shall be dealt to-morrow at mine.’
 
XVII

Fair Margaret died on the over night,
        65
  Sweet William died on the morrow:
Fair Margaret died for pure, pure love,
  Sweet William died for sorrow.
 
XVIII

Go with your right to Newcastle,
  And come with your left side home;        70
There you will see these two lovers
  Lie printed on one stone.
 

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