Andrew Lansdown

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Anonymous Ballads & Carols

Three poems – Anonymous:

1. “I Sing of a Maiden”

2. “The Cherry-Tree Carol”

3. “Dives and Lazarus”

 

 

I Sing of a Maiden

 

I sing of a maiden

      That is makeless.

King of all kings

      To her son she ches.

 

He cam also stille

      Ther his moder was

As dewe in Aprille

      That falleth on the grass.

 

He cam also stille

      To his modres bowr

As dewe in Aprille

      Thatfalleth on the flowr.

 

He cam also stille

      Ther his moder lay

As dewe in Aprille

      That falleth on the spray.

 

Moder and maiden

      Was never noon but she:

Well may swich a lady

      Godes mother be.

 

(“Makeless”= matchless, mateless, spotless; “ches” = chose; “ther” = where)

 

 

 

 

I Sing of a Maiden

 

I sing of a maiden

      That is matchless.

King of all kings

      To her son she chose.

 

He came all so still

      Where his mother was

As dew in April

      That falleth on the grass.

 

He came all so still

      To his mother’s bower

As dew in April

      That falleth on the flower.

 

He came all so still

      Where his mother lay

As dew in April

      That falleth on the spray.

 

Mother and maiden

      Was never none but she:

Well may such a lady

      God’s mother be.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cherry-Tree Carol

 

Joseph was an old man,

and an old man was he,

When he wedded Mary,

in the land of Galilee.

 

Joseph and Mary walked

through an orchard good,

Where was cherries and berries,

so red as any blood.

 

Joseph and Mary walked

through an orchard green,

Where was berries and cherries,

as thick as might be seen.

 

O then bespoke Mary,

so meek and so mild:

“Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,

for I am with child.”

 

O then bespoke Joseph,

with words most unkind:

“Let him pluck thee a cherry

that brought thee with child.”

 

O then bespoke the babe,

within his mother’s womb:

“Bow down then the tallest tree,

for my mother to have some.”

 

Then bowed down the highest tree

unto his mother’s hand;

Then she cried, See, Joseph,

I have cherries at command.

 

O then bespake Joseph:

“I have done Mary wrong;

But cheer up, my dearest,

and be not cast down.”

 

Then Mary plucked a cherry,

as red as the blood,

Then Mary went home

with her heavy load.

 

Then Mary took her babe,

and sat him on her knee,

Saying, My dear son, tell me

what this world will be.

 

“O I shall be as dead, mother,

as the stones in the wall;

O the stones in the streets, mother,

shall mourn for me all.

 

“Upon Easter-day, mother,

my uprising shall be;

O the sun and the moon, mother,

shall both rise with me.”

 

 

 

 

 

Dives and Lazarus

 

As it fell out upon a day,

Rich Dives he made a feast,

And he invited all his friends,

And gentry of the best.

 

Then Lazarus laid him down and down,

And down at Dives” door:

“Some meat, some drink, brother Dives,

Bestow upon the poor.”

 

“Thou art none of my brother, Lazarus,

That lies begging at my door;

No meat nor drink will I give thee,

Nor bestow upon the poor.”

 

Then Lazarus laid him down and down,

And down at Dive’s wall:

“Some meat, some drink, brother Dives,

Or with hunger starve I shall.”

 

“Thou art none of my brother, Lazarus,

That lies begging at my wall;

No meat nor drink will I give thee,

But with hunger starve you shall.”

 

Then Lazarus laid him down and down,

And down at Dive’s gate:

“Some meat, some drink, brother Dives,

For Jesus Christ sake.”

 

“Thou art none of my brother, Lazarus,

That lies begging at my gate;

No meat nor drink will I give thee,

For Jesus Christ his sake.”

 

Then Dives sent out his merry men,

To whip poor Lazarus away;

They had no power to strike a stroke,

But flung their whips away.

 

Then Dives sent out his hungry dogs,

To bite him as he lay;

They had no power to bite at all,

But licked his sores away.

 

As it fell out upon a day,

Poor Lazarus sickened and died;

Then came two angels out of heaven

His soul therein to guide.

 

“Rise up, rise up, brother Lazarus,

And go along with me;

For you’ve a place prepared in heaven,

To sit on an angel’s knee.”

 

As it fell out upon a day,

Rich Dives sickened and died;

Then came two serpents out of hell,

His soul therein to guide.

 

“Rise up, rise up, brother Dives,

And go with us to see

A dismal place, prepared in hell,

From which thou canst not flee.”

 

Then Dives looked up with his eyes,

And saw poor Lazarus blest:

“Give me one drop of water, brother Lazarus,

To quench my flaming thirst.

 

“Oh had I as many years to abide

As there are blades of grass,

Then there would be an end, but now

Hell’s pains will ne’er be past.

 

“Oh was I now but alive again,

The space of one half hour!

Oh that I had my peace secure!

Then the devil should have no power.”

 

 

[Note: Folk singer/songwriter Marin Simpson gives a superbe rendition of “Lazarus and Dives” on his CD, The Bramble Briar.]

 

 

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