William Morris Archive

Ballad: There were two knights rode together

Pub. CW, XXIV, 72-73.

Draft in B. L. Add. MS 45,298A, ff. 76-78, in Murray's hand.


[72] THERE were two knights rode together,
      At their backs a great meine
They were in the fair English land,
      Muckle joy had they.

Fair Sir, I am old and my eyen are weak,
      Your eyen are clear and keen,
I pray you name me well yon bird
      Fled over the meadows green.

Whether was it a good storm-thrush
      Or a jay with a blue wing,
Was it one of the birds that sing fair lauds
      When the greves are green in spring?

Yon bird it was no missel-thrush
      Or jay with a blue wing;
O let narrow and well away
      To the song that it doth sing.

Yon was an evil maggot-pie,
      He bodeth us treie and tene,
I would I had seen some other bird
      Betwixt the greves green.

Though we have come safe home again
      And our hap has been but good,
Cry not Ho, the old saw saith,
      Till you are out of the wood.

They rode so long till the mirk night
      Came over the country side;
They said one to another,
      I would some house might betide.

O whatten a light is yon great light
      That maketh the heaven red?
It is na the light of torches
      For all men are fast abed.

O whatten alight is yon great light?
      The sun was down six hours ago.
No doubt in some carle's homestead
      The red cock doth crow.

O whatten a light is yon great light ?
      The moon was down an hour ago.
O yon is the bonny house of Skreehope
      That burneth all in a red glow.

O whatten staves are yon great staves?
      They seem right great agen the low.
O yon are the spears of the fause Scots:
      Cry, Mary my help for Skreehope ho!

Gin we had no fear of the French glaives
      Little fear have we of the Scotch spears.
I should never see such a deadly fray
      Gin I should live an hundred years.

Many a Scot was overthrown
      And laid dead on the earth cold,
But our Englishmen were put aback
     Though of their hearts they were full bold.

There was the lord of Skreehope slain,
     And Sir John of Fulton was led away.
Skreehope House has been full cold,
      None dwells there syne that day.

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