Poems from Prose Romances - A Dream of John Ball
CHAPTER II. THE MAN FROM ESSEX
When he had done, another began in something of the same strain, but singing more of a song than a story ballad; and thus much I remember of it:
The Sheriff is made a mighty lord,
With stone and lime is the burg wall built,
So forth shall we and bend the bow
Now yeomen walk ye warily,
Now bills and bows I and out a–gate!
So over the mead and over the hithe,
But here the song dropped suddenly, and one of the men held up his hand as who would say, Hist! Then through the open window came the sound of another song, gradually swelling as though sung by men on the march. This time the melody was a piece of the plain–song of the church, familiar enough to me to bring back to my mind the great arches of some cathedral in France and the canons singing in the choir.
Above the heads of the crowd, and now slowly working towards the cross, was a banner on a high–raised cross–pole, a picture of a man and woman half–clad in skins of beasts seen against a background of green trees, the man holding a spade and the woman a distaff and spindle rudely done enough, but yet with a certain spirit and much meaning; and underneath this symbol of the early world and man’s first contest with nature were the written words:
When Adam delved and Eve span
The banner came on and through the crowd, which at last opened where we stood for its passage, and the banner–bearer turned and faced the throng and stood on the first step of the cross beside me.<h5>CHAPTER VIII. SUPPER AT WILL GREEN’S
The folk and guests there had already shaken themselves down since our departure, and were gotten to be reasonably merry it seemed; for one of the guests, he who had spoken of France before, had fallen to singing a ballad of the war to a wild and melancholy tune. I remember the first rhymes of it, which I heard as I turned away my head and we moved on toward the church:
“On a fair field of France