William Morris Archive

Ballad: Where have you been so long to-day?

Pub. AWS, I, 517.
Draft in Morris's hand in Fitz. MS 1, titled "The Cruel Stepmother."

Another draft in Murray's hand in B. L. Add. MS 45,298A, f. 81 titled "Ballad" and filed under a section headed "Poems by the Way." The poems in this section were all copies of juvenilia which Murray sent to Morris in 1891 while he was working on Poems By the Way; in his letter thanking Murray, Morris called it "The Stepmother." Stokes describes this and "Malmston had a dream in the night" (see below) as translations from the Danish (27 fn.).

Where have you been so long to-day?
     Tell me true, sweet Step-daughter.
To my brother's house I went to play:
     Something hurts me, Step-mother.

[probably intended to be formatted with refrains after each line]

What did you eat for dinner there?
Roasted eels and black pepper.

What did you do with the broken meat[?]
I gave them to my dogs to eat[.]

What then did to your dogs betide[?]
The flesh fell from them that they died.

What do you leave to your father dear?
My barn of wheat to make good cheer.

And what will you leave to your brother dear?
My great ship that sails everywhere.

And what will you leave to your sister dear?
My gold that shineth red and clear.

And what will you leave to your Step-mother?
The flames of Hell I leave to her.

And what then will you leave your nurse?
Mother, what can I wish her worse?

For PDF, see Where Have You Been So Long To-Day?