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.
 
76. The Lord of Lorn
 
 
I

IT was the worthy Lord of Lorn,
  He was a lord of high degree;
And he has set his one young son
  To school, to learn civility.
 
II

He learn’d more learning in one day
        5
  Than other children did in three;
And then bespake the schoolmaster,
  Unto the heir of Lorn said he:
 
III

‘In faith thou are the honestest boy
  That ere I blinkt on with mine e’e;        10
I think thou be some easterling born,
  The Holy Ghost it is with thee.’
 
IV

He said he was no easterling born,
  The child thus answer’d courteouslye:
‘My father he is the Lord of Lorn,        15
  And I his one young son, perdie.’
 
V

The schoolmaster turn’d round about,
  His angry mind he could not ’swage;
He marvell’d the child could speak so wise,
  He being of so tender age.        20
 
VI

He girt the saddle to the steed,
  A golden bridle done him upon;
He took his leave of his schoolfellows,
  And home this Child of Lorn has gone.
 
VII

And when he came to his father dear
        25
  He kneelèd down upon his knee:
‘God’s blessing, father, I would ask,
  If Christ would grant you to give it me.’—
 
VIII

‘Now God thee bless, my son, my heir,
  His servant in heaven that thou may be!        30
What tidings hast thou brought me, child?
  Thou art comen home so hastilye.’—
 
IX

‘Good tidings, father, I have you brought,
  Good tidings I hope it is to thee;
There’s never a book in all Scotland        35
  But I can read it truëlye.’
 
X

A joyèd man his father was
  All in the place where he did stand:
‘My son, thou shalt go into France,
  To learn the speeches of ilka land.’        40
 
XI

‘Who shall go with him?’ said his lady;
  ‘Husband, we have no more but he.’—
‘Madam,’ he saith, ‘my hend steward,
  For he hath been true to you and me.’
 
XII

She call’d the steward to an account,
        45
  A thousand pound she gave him anon;
Says, ‘Steward, I’ll give thee as mickle more
  If thou be as good to my one son.’—
 
XIII

‘If I be false unto my young lord,
  Then God be the like to me indeed!’        50
—So now to France they both are gone,
  And the God [of Heaven] be their good speed!
 
XIV

Over the sea into France land
  They had not been three weeks to an end,
But meat and drink the child got none,        55
  Nor penny of money in purse to spend.
 
XV

The child ran to a river’s side;
  He was fain to drink the water thin;
And after follow’d the false steward
  To drown the bonny boy therein.        60
 
XVI

‘But nay, by Mary!’ said the child,
  He askèd mercy pitifullye;
‘Good Steward, let me have my life,
  And all I have I will give to thee!’
 
XVII

Mercy to him the steward did take,
        65
  And pull’d the child out o’er the brim
But, ever alack, the more pitye!
  He took his clothing even from him.
 
XVIII

Says, ‘Do thou me off that velvet gown,
  The crimson hose beneath thy knee,        70
And do me off thy cordinant shoon
  That are buckled with the gold so free.
 
XIX

‘Do thou me off thy satin doublèt,
  Thy shirtband wrought wi’ glisterin’ gold,
And do me off thy golden chain        75
  About thy neck with many a fold.
 
XX

‘And do me off thy velvet hat,
  With feather in it that is so fine;
And all unto thy silken shirt,
  That’s work’d with many a golden seam.’        80
 
XXI

But when the child was naked stript,
  With skin as white as the lily flow’r,
He might, for his body and his bewtie,
  Have been a princess’ paramour.
 
XXII

He put him in an old kelter coat,
        85
  And hose of the same above the knee,
And he bade him go to a shepherd’s house,
  To tend sheep on a lonely lee.
 
XXIII

The child said, ‘What shall be my name?
  Prithee, good Steward, tell to me.’—        90
‘Thy name shall be Poor Disaware,
  To tend sheep on a lonely lee.’
 
XXIV

The child came to the shepherd’s house—
  O Lord! he weepèd pitifullye—
Says, ‘Do you not want a servant-boy,        95
  To tend your sheep on a lonely lee?’
 
XXV

‘I have no child,’ the shepherd said,
  ‘My boy, thou’st tarry and dwell with me;
My living, my house, but and my goods,
  I’ll make thee heir of them all, perdie.’        100
 
XXVI

And then bespake the shepherd’s wife
  Unto the child so tenderlye:
‘Thou must take the sheep and go to the field,
  And tend them upon the lonely lee.’
 
XXVII

Now let us leave talk of the child
        105
  That is tending sheep on the lonely lee,
And we’ll talk more of the false steward,
  Of him and of his treacherye.
 
XXVIII

He bought himself a suit of apparel
  That any lord might a-seem’d to worn;        110
He went a-wooing to the Duke’s daughter,
  And call’d himself the Lord of Lorn.
 
XXIX

The Duke he welcomed the [brisk] young lord
  With three baked stags and the Rhenish wine:
If he had wist him the false steward,        115
  With the devil he’d have bade him dine.
 
XXX

But when they were at supper set
  With dainty delicates that was there,
The Duke said, ‘If thou’lt wed my daughter
  I’ll give thee a thousand pound a year.’        120
 
XXXI

Then hand in hand the steward her took,
  And plight that lady his troth alone,
That she should be his married wife,
  And he would make her the Lady of Lorn.
 
XXXII

The lady would see the roebuck run
        125
  Up hills and dales and the forest free,
When she was ’ware of a shepherd’s boy
  Was tending sheep on a lonely lee.
 
XXXIII

And ever he sigh’d and made his moan
  [Unto himself] most pitifullye,        130
‘My father is the Lord of Lorn,
  And knows not what’s become of me!’
 
XXXIV

O then bespake the lady gay
  And to her maid she spake anon,
‘Go fetch me hither yon shepherd’s boy:        135
  I’ll know why he doth make his moan.’
 
XXXV

But when he came to that lady fair
  He fell down low upon his knee;
He was [of birth and] so brought up
  He needed not to learn courtesye.        140
 
XXXVI

‘What is thy name? Where wast thou born?
  For whose sake makest thou this moan?’—
‘I am Poor Disaware, in Scotland born,
  And I mourn one dead these years agone.’—
 
XXXVII

‘Tell me [of Scotland], thou bonny child,
        145
  Tell me the truth and do not lee:
Knowest thou there the young Lord of Lorn?
  He is come into France a-wooing of me.’—
 
XXXVIII

‘Yes, that I do, madam,’ he said,
  ‘I know that lord, yea, verilye;        150
The Lord of Lorn is a worthy lord,
  If he were at home in his own countrye.’—
 
XXXIX

‘Wilt leave thy sheep, thou bonny child,
  And come in service unto me?’—
‘[I thank you, madam]; yea, forsooth,        155
  And at your bidding I will be.’
 
XL

When the steward look’d upon the child
  He ’gan bewrail him villainouslye:
‘Where wast thou born, thou vagabone?
  Thou art a thief, I will prove thee.’        160
 
XLI

‘Ha’ done! ha’ done!’ said the lady gay,
  ‘Peace, Lord of Lorn, I do pray thee!
Without you bear him more good will,
  No favour will you get of me.’
 
XLII

O then bespake the false steward,
        165
  ‘Believe me or no, I tell to thee,
At Aberdonie, beyond the seas,
  His father robbéd thousands three.’
 
XLIII

But then bespake the Duke of France
  (The child was pleasant to his e’e),        170
Says, ‘Boy, if thou love horses well,
  My groom of stables thou shalt be.’
 
XLIV

The child applied his office so well
  Till that twelve months drew to an end;
He was so courteous and so true        175
  That every man became his friend.
 
XLV

He led a gelding forth one morning,
  To water him at the water so free—
The gelding up, and with his head
  He hit the child above the e’e.        180
 
XLVI

‘Woe worth thee, gelding!’ said the child,
  ‘Woe worth the mare that foalèd thee!
Thou little knowest the Lord of Lorn:
  Thou’st stricken a lord of high degree.’
 
XLVII

The lady was in her garden green,
        185
  And heard the child that made this moan:
All weeping [straight] she ran to him
  And left her maidens all alone.
 
XLVIII

‘Sing on thy song, thou stable groom,
  I will release thee of thy pain.’—        190
‘Nay, lady, I have made an oath;
  I dare not tell my tale again.’—
 
XLIX

‘Sing on thy song, then, to thy gelding,
  And so thy oath shall savèd be.’—
But when he told his horse the tale,        195
  O the lady wept full tenderlye.
 
L

She sent in for her father the Duke:
  ‘O sick I am, and like to dee!
Put off my wedding, father,’ she said,
  ‘For the love of God, these monthës three.’        200
 
LI

The lady she did write a letter
  Full speedily with her own hand;
She has sent it to the Lord of Lorn
  Whereas he dwelt in fair Scotland.
 
LII

When the Lord of Lorn had read the letter
        205
  His lady wept, Lord! bitterlye;
‘Peace, Lady of Lorn, for Christ his love!
  And wroken upon him I will be.’
 
LIII

The old lord call’d up his merry men,
  And all that he gave cloth and fee,        210
With seven lords to ride beside him,
  And into the land of France rides he.
 
LIV

The wind was good, and they did sail
  Five hundred men into France land,
Till they were ’ware of the Heir of Lorn,        215
  Stood with a porter’s staff in ’s hand.
 
LV

The lords then cast their hats into air,
  The serving-men fell on their knee.
‘What fools be yonder,’ said the steward,
  ‘That makes the porter courtesye?’        220
 
LVI

‘Thou’rt a false thief,’ said the Lord of Lorn,
  ‘[This child, thy master] to betray!’
And they set the castle round about,
  A swallow could not have flown away.
 
LVII

And when they had taken the false steward,
        225
  By the law of France all hastilye
A quest of lords there chosen was
  That judged this traitor he must dee.
 
LVIII

First they took him and hang’d him half,
  And then they lat him down anon,        230
And quarter’d and put him in boiling lead,
  And there he was sodden, breast and bone.
 
LIX

O then bespake the Lord of Lorn,
  With many other lordës mo,
‘Sir Duke, if you be as willing as we,        235
  We’ll have a marriage before we go.’
 
LX

But then bespake the Duke of France,
  Unto the Child of Lorn right there:
Says, ‘Heir of Lorn, if thou’lt marry my daughter,
  I’ll mend thy living a thousand a year.’        240
 
LXI

But then bespake that Child of Lorn,
  And answer’d the Duke right merrilye:
‘I had rather have her with a ring of gold
  Than all the gold you can proffer to me.’
 
GLOSS:  hend] courteous.  cordinant] of Cordovan leather.  kelter] of undyed wool.  bewrail] rail at.  wroken] revenged.
 

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