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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' But now, alas ! my husband's dead, And all my friends are from me fled ; My former joys are pass'd and gone, For I am now a serving-man.'
At last the King from hunting came, And presently, upon the same, He called for this good old man, And thus to speak the King began:
' What news, what news, old man i' quoth he; ' What news hast thou to tell to me ?'— ' Brave news,' the old man he did say, ' Sweet William is a lady gay.'—
i If this be true thou tell'st to me, I'll make thee lord of high degree; But if thy words do prove a lie, Thou shalt be hang'd up presently.'
But when the King the truth had found, His joys did more and more abound: According as the old man did say, Sweet William was a lady gay.
Therefore the King without delay Put on her glorious rich array, And upon her head a crown of gold Which was most famous to behold. 836
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