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.
 
8. Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight
 
 
I

MY plaid awa’, my plaid awa’,
  And o’er the hill and far awa’;
And far awa’ to Norrowa’,
My plaid shall not be blown awa’!
 
II

Lady Isabel sits in her bower sewing,
        5
  Aye as the gowans grow gay—
She heard an elf-knight his horn blawing,
  The first morning in May.
 
III

The elfin-knight sits on yon hill,
He blaws his horn baith loud and shrill.        10
 
IV

He blaws it east, he blaws it west,
He blaws it where he lyketh best.
 
V

‘I wish that horn were in my kist,
Yea, and the knight in my arms niest.’
 
VI

She had no sooner these words said,
        15
When that knight came to her bed.
 
VII

‘Thou art owre young a maid,’ quoth he,
‘Married with me thou ill wouldst be.’—
 
VIII

‘I have a sister younger than I,
And she was married yesterday.’—        20
 
IX

‘Married with me if thou wouldst be,
A courtesie thou must do to me.
 
X

‘For thou must shape a sark to me
Without any cut or hem,’ quoth he.
 
XI

‘It’s ye maun shape it knife-and-shurlesse,
        25
And also sew it needle-threedlesse.
 
XII

‘And ye maun wash it in yonder well,
Where the dew never wat nor the rain never fell.
 
XIII

‘And ye maun dry it upon a thorn
That never budded sin Adam was born.’—        30
 
XIV

‘Now sin ye have asked some things o’ me,
It’s right I ask as mony o’ thee.
 
XV

‘My father he ask’d me an acre o’ land
Between the saut sea and the strand.
 
XVI

‘And ye maun are it wi’ your blawin’ horn,
        35
And ye maun sow it wi’ pepper corn.
 
XVII

‘And ye maun harrow it with ae tyne,
And ye maun shear it with ae horse bane.
 
XVIII

‘And ye maun stack it in yon mouse-hole,
And ye maun thresh it in yon shoe-sole.        40
 
XIX

‘And ye maun winnow it in your loof,
And ye maun sack it in your glove.
 
XX

‘And ye maun bring it owre the sea,
Fair and clean and dry to me.
 
XXI

‘And when ye’ve done an’ finish’d your wark,
        45
Come to me, love, an’ get your sark.’
 
XXII

‘It’s I’ll not quit my plaid for my life;
It haps my seven bairns and my wife.’
  The wind sall not blaw my plaid awa’:
‘And it’s I will keep me a maiden still,        50
Let the elfin knight do what he will’—
  The wind has not blawn my plaid awa’!
 
GLOSS:  gowans] daisies.  kist] chest.  niest] next.  sark] shirt.  wat] wetted.  are] plough.  ae tyne] one harrow-point.  loof] palm.
 

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