Anonymous Olde English


Childe Waters


Childe Waters in his stable stoode
And stroakt his milke-white steede;
To him a fayre yonge ladye came
As ever ware womans weede.

Sayes, 'Christ you save, good Childe Waters,'
Sayes, 'Christ you save and see;
My girdle of gold that was too longe,
Is now too short for mee.

'And all is with one childe of yours
I feele sturre at my side;
My gowne of greene it is too straighte;
Before, it was too wide.'

'If the childe be mine, faire Ellen,' he sayd,
'Be mine, as you tell mee,
Then take you Cheshire and Lancashire both,
Take them your owne to bee.

'If the childe be mine, faire Ellen,' he sayd,
'Be mine, as you doe sweare,
Then take you Cheshire and Lancashire both,
And make that childe your heyre.'

Shee sayes, 'I had rather have one kisse,
Childe Waters, of thy mouth,
Than I wolde have Cheshire and Lancashire both,
That lye by north and southe.

'And I had rather have one twinkling,
Childe Waters, of thine ee,
Than I wolde have Cheshire and Lancashire both,
To take them mine owne to bee.'

'To-morrowe, Ellen, I must forth ryde
Farr into the north countree;
The fayrest ladye that I can finde,
Ellen, must goe with mee.'

''Thoughe I am not that ladye fayre,
Yet let me goe with thee:'
And ever I pray you, Childe Waters,
Your foot-page let me bee.'

'If you will my foot-page bee, Ellen,
As you doe tell to mee,
Then you must cut your gowne of greene
An inch above your knee:

'Soe must you doe your yellowe lockes,
An inch above your ee;
You must tell no man what is my name;
My foot-page then you shall bee.'

Shee, all the longe daye Childe Waters rode,
Ran barefoote by his syde,
Yet was he never soe courteous a knighte,
To say, 'Ellen, will you ryde?'

Shee, all the long daye Childe Waters rode,
Ran barefoote thorow the broome,
Yet was hee never soe courteous a knighte,
To say, 'put on your shoone.'

'Ride softlye,' shee sayd, 'O Childe Waters,
Why doe you ryde so fast?
The childe, which is no mans but thine,
My bodye itt will brast.'

Hee sayth, 'Seest thou yonder water, Ellen,
That flows from banke to brimme?' -
'I trust in God, O Childe Waters,
You never will see me swimme.'

But when shee came to the water side,
She sayled to the chinne:
'Nowe the Lord of heaven be my speede,
For I must learne to swimme.'

The salt waters bare up her clothes;
Our Ladye bare up her chinne;
Childe Waters was a woeman, good Lord,
To see faire Ellen swimme!

And when shee over the water was,
Shee then came to his knee:
Hee sayd, 'Come hither, thou fayre Ellen,
Loe yonder what I see.

'Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen?
Of redd gold shines the yate:
Of twenty-foure faire ladyes there,
The fairest is my mate.

'Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen?
Of redd golde shines the towre:
There are twenty-four fayre ladyes there,
The fayrest is my paramoure.'

'I see the hall now, Childe Waters,
Of redd golde shines the yate:
God give you good now of yourselfe,
And of your worthye mate.

'I see the hall now, Childe Waters,
Of redd golde shines the towre:
God give you good now of yourselfe,
And of your paramoure.'

There twenty-four fayre ladyes were
A playing at the ball,
And Ellen, the fayrest ladye there,
Must bring his steed to the stall.

There twenty-four fayre ladyes were
A playinge at the chesse,
And Ellen, the fayrest ladye there,
Must bring his horse to gresse.

And then bespake Childe Waters sister,
These were the wordes sayd shee:
'You have the prettyest page, brother,
That ever I did see;

'But that his bellye it is so bigge,
His girdle stands soe hye;
And ever I pray you, Childe Waters,
Let him in my chamber lye.'

'It is not fit for a little foot-page,
That has run throughe mosse and myre,
To lye in the chamber of any ladye,
That weares soe riche attyre.

'It is more meete for a little foot-page,
That has run throughe moss and myre,
To take his supper upon his knee,
And lye by the kitchen fyre.'

Now when they had supped every one,
To bedd they tooke theyr waye:
He sayd, 'Come hither, my little foot-page,
And hearken what I saye.

'Goe thee downe into yonder towne,
And lowe into the streete;
The fayrest ladye that thou canst finde,
Hyre in mine armes to sleepe;
And take her up in thine armes twaine,
For filing of her feete.'

Ellen is gone into the towne,
And lowe into the streete;
The fayrest ladye that shee colde finde
She hyred in his armes to sleepe;
And tooke her up in her armes twaine,
For filing of her feete.

'I praye you nowe, good Childe Waters,
Let mee lye at your feete;
For there is noe place about this house,
Where I may 'saye a sleepe.'

'He gave her leave, and fair Ellen
'Down at his beds feet laye;
This done the nighte drove on apace,
And when it was neare the daye,

Hee sayd, 'Rise up, my little foot-page,
Give my steede corne and haye;
And give him nowe the good black oates,
To carry mee better awaye.'

Up then rose the faire Ellen,
And gave his steed corne and haye;
And soe shee did the good black oates,
To carry him the better awaye.

She leaned her back to the manger side,
And grievouslye did groane;
She leaned her back to the manger side,
And there shee made her moane.

And that beheard his mother deare,
Shee heard 'her woefull woe:'
She sayd, 'Rise up, thou Childe Waters,
And into thy stable goe.

'For in thy stable is a ghost,
That grievouslye doth grone;
Or else some woman laboures with childe,
Shee is soe woe-begone.'

Up then rose Childe Waters soone,
And did on his shirte of silke;
And then he put on his other clothes,
On his bodye as white as milke.

And when he came to the stable dore,
Full still there hee did stand,
That hee mighte heare his fayre Ellen,
Howe shee made her monand.

She sayd, 'Lullabye, mine own dear childe,
Lullabye, deare childe, deare;
I wolde thy father were a kinge,
Thy mothere ladye on a biere.'

'Peace nowe,' hee sayd, 'good, faire Ellen,
Bee of good cheere, I praye;
And the bridale and the churchinge bothe
Shall bee upon one daye.'

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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