The Oxford Book of Ballads - online book

A Selection Of The Best English Lyric Ballads Chosen & Edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch

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ABBOT OF CANTERBURY
XII
Then home rode the Abbot of comfort so cold, And he mett with his shepheard a-going to fold : ' How now, my lord Abbot, you are welcome home ; What newes do you bring us from good King John ?'
xm ' Sad newes, sad newes, shepheard, I must give ; That I have but three days more to live: For if I do not answer him questions three, My head will be smitten from my bodie.
XIV ' The first is to tell him there in that stead, With his crowne of golde so fair on his head, Among all his liege-men so noble of birthe, To within one penny of what he is worthe.
xv
' The seconde, to tell him, without any doubt, How soone he may ride this whole worlde about: And at the third question I must not shrinke, But tell him there truly what he does thinke.'
XVI
' Now cheare up, sire Abbot, did you never hear yet, That a fool he may learn a wise man witt ? Lend me horse, and serving-men, and your apparel, And I'll ride to London to answere your quarrel.
xvn
' Nay frowne not, if it hath bin told unto mee, I am like your lordship, as ever may bee: And if you will but lend me your gowne, There is none shall knowe us at fair London towne.'
851
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