Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Ballads: Romantic
Glasgerion
 
          [Glasgerion, or Kurion the Pale, was a Celtic minstrel, whom Chaucer places in the company of such bards as Orpheus, Arion, and ‘Eacydes Chiron.’ This ballad exists in the Scotch version of Glenkindie (Jamieson, i. 93). It is here printed from Percy’s Reliques, Bohn’s ed.]

GLASGERION was a kings owne sonne,
  And a harper he was goode;
He harped in the kings chambere,
  Where cuppe and caudle stoode,
 
And soe did hee in the queens chambere,        5
  Till ladies waxed glad,
And then bespake the kinges daughter,
  And these wordes thus shee sayd:
 
‘Strike on, strike on, Glasgerion,
  Of thy striking doe not blinne;        10
Theres never a stroke comes oer thy harpe,
  But it glads my hart withinne.’
 
‘Faire might he fall,’ quoth hee,
  ‘Who taught you nowe to speake!
I have loved you, ladye, seven longe yeere,        15
  My minde I neere durst breake.’
 
‘But come to my bower, my Glasgerion,
  When all men are att rest:
As I am a ladie true of my promise,
  Thou shalt bee a welcome guest.’        20
 
Home then came Glasgerion,
  A glad man, lord! was hee:
‘And, come thou hither, Jacke my boy,
  Come hither unto mee.
 
‘For the kinges daughter of Normandye        25
  Hath granted mee my boone;
And att her chambere must I bee
  Beffore the cocke have crowen.’
 
‘O master, master,’ then quoth hee,
  ‘Lay your head downe on this stone;        30
For I will waken you, master deere,
  Afore it be time to gone.’
 
But up then rose that lither ladd,
  And hose and shoone did on;
A coller he cast upon his necke,        35
  He seemed a gentleman.
 
And when he came to the ladyes chamber,
  He thrild upon a pinn:
The lady was true of her promise,
  And rose and lett him inn.        40
 
He did not take the lady gaye
  To boulster nor to bed:
Nor thoughe hee had his wicked wille,
  A single word he sed.
 
He did not kisse that ladyes mouthe,        45
  Nor when he came, nor yode:
And sore that ladye did mistrust,
  He was of some churls bloud.
 
But home then came that lither ladd,
  And did off his hose and shoone;        50
And cast the coller from off his necke:
  He was but a churles sonne.
 
‘Awake, awake, my deere master,
  The cock hath well-nigh crowen;
Awake, awake, my master deere,        55
  I hold it time to be gone.
 
‘For I have saddled your horse, mastèr,
  Well bridled I have your steede,
And I have served you a good breakfast,
  For thereof ye have need.’        60
 
Up then rose good Glasgerion,
  And did on hose and shoone,
And cast a coller about his necke:
  For he was a kinge his sonne.
 
And when he came to the ladyes chambere,        65
  He thrilled upon the pinne;
The lady was more than true of promise,
  And rose and let him inn.
 
‘O whether have you left with me
  Your bracelet or your glove?        70
Or are you returned back againe
  To know more of my love?’
 
Glasgerion swore a full great othe,
  By oake, and ashe, and thorne;
‘Ladye, I was never in your chambere,        75
  Sith the time that I was borne.’
 
‘O then it was your lither foot-page,
  He hath beguiled mee:’
Then shee pulled forth a little pen-knìffe,
  That hanged by her knee.        80
 
Sayes, ‘There shall never noe churlès blood
  Within my bodye spring:
No churlès blood shall eer defile
  The daughter of a kinge.’
 
Home then went Glasgerion,        85
  And woe, good lord! was hee:
Sayes, ‘Come thou hither, Jacke my boy,
  Come hither unto mee.
 
‘If I had killed a man to-night,
  Jacke, I would tell it thee:        90
But if I have not killed a man to-night,
  Jacke, thou hast killed three.’
 
And he puld out his bright browne sword,
  And dryed it on his sleeve,
And he smote off that lither ladds head,        95
  Who did his ladye grieve.
 
He sett the swords poynt till his brest,
  The pummil until a stone:
Throw the falsenesse of that lither ladd,
  These three lives were all gone.        100
 
 
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