Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Mary Ambree
Anonymous
 
WHEN 1 captaines couragious, whom death cold not daunte,
Did march to the siege of the citty of Gaunt,
They mustred their souldiers by two and by three,
And the formost in battle was Mary Ambree.
 
When the brave sergeant-major was slaine in her sight,        5
Who was her true lover, her joy, and delight,
Because he was slaine most treacherouslie
Then vowd to revenge him Mary Ambree.
 
She clothed herselfe from the top to the toe
In buffe of the bravest, most seemelye to showe;        10
A faire shirt of male then slipped on shee:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
A helmett of proofe shee strait did provide,
A stronge arminge-sword shee girt by her side,
On her hand a goodly faire gauntlett put shee:        15
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
Then tooke shee her sworde and her targett in hand,
Bidding all such, as wold, to bee of her band;
To wayte on her person came thousand and three:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?        20
 
‘My soldiers,’ she saith, ‘soe valliant and bold,
Nowe followe your captaine, whom you doe beholde;
Still formost in battell myselfe will I bee:’
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
Then cryed out her souldiers, and loude they did say,        25
‘Soe well thou becomest this gallant array,
Thy harte and thy weapons so well do agree,
Noe mayden was ever like Mary Ambree.’
 
She cheared her souldiers, that foughten for life,
With ancyent and standard, with drum and with fife,        30
With brave clanging trumpetts, that sounded so free;
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
‘Before I will see the worst of you all
To come into danger of death or of thrall,
This hand and this life I will venture so free;’        35
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
Shee ledd upp her souldiers in battaile array,
’Gainst three times theyr number by breake of the daye;
Seven howers in skirmish continued shee:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?        40
 
She filled the skyes with the smoke of her shott,
And her enemyes bodyes with bulletts so hott;
For one of her own men a score killed shee:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
And when her false gunner, to spoyle her intent,        45
Away all her pellets and powder had sent,
Straight with her keen weapon she slasht him in three:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
Being falselye betrayed for lucre of hyre,
At length she was forced to make a retyre;        50
Then her souldiers into a strong castle drew shee:
Was not this a brave bonny lasse, Mary Ambree?
 
Her foes they besett her on everye side,
As thinking close siege shee cold never abide;
To beat down the walles they all did agree:        55
But stoutlye deffyd them brave Mary Ambree.
 
Then tooke shee her sword and her targett in hand,
And mounting the walls all undaunted did stand,
There daring their captaines to match any three:
O what a brave captaine was Mary Ambree!        60
 
‘Now saye, English captaine, what woldest thou give
To ransome thy selfe, which else must not live?
Come yield thyselfe quicklye, or slaine thou must bee:’
Then smiled sweetlye brave Mary Ambree.
 
‘Ye captaines couragious, of valour so bold,        65
Whom thinke you before you now you doe behold?’
‘A knight, sir, of England, and captaine soe free,
Who shortlye with us a prisoner must bee.’
 
‘No captaine of England; behold in your sight
Two brests in my bosome, and therefore no knight:        70
Noe knight, sirs, of England, nor captaine you see,
But a poor simple mayden called Mary Ambree.’
 
‘But art thou a woman, as thou dost declare,
Whose valour hath proved so undaunted in warre?
If England doth yield such brave maydens as thee,        75
Full well may they conquer, faire Mary Ambree.’
 
The Prince of Great Parma heard of her renowne,
Who long had advanced for England’s fair crowne;
Hee wooed her and sued her his mistress to bee,
And offered rich presents to Mary Ambree.        80
 
But this virtuous mayden despised them all:
‘I’le nere sell my honour for purple nor pall;
A mayden of England, sir, never will bee
The wench of a monarcke,’ quoth Mary Ambree.
 
Then to her owne country shee back did returne,        85
Still holding the foes of faire England in scorne!
Therfore English captaines of every degree
Sing forth the brave valours of Mary Ambree.
 
Note 1. Pepys collection, printed by Percy in the Reliques. As an historical personage, nothing is known of Mary Ambree. [back]
 
 
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