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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Traditional Ballads

19. Young Bicham

IN London city was Bicham born,

He longd strange countries for to see,

But he was taen by a savage Moor,

Who handld him right cruely.

For thro his shoulder he put a bore,

An thro the bore has pitten a tree,

An he’s gard him draw the carts o wine,

Where horse and oxen had wont to be.

He’s casten [him] in a dungeon deep,

Where he coud neither hear nor see;

He’s shut him up in a prison strong,

And he’s handld him right cruely.

O this Moor he had but ae daughter,

I wot her name was Shusy Pye;

She’s doen her to the prison-house,

And she’s calld Young Bicham one word by.

“O hae ye ony lands or rents,

Or citys in your ain country,

Coud free you out of prison strong,

An coud mantain a lady free?”

“O London city is my own,

An other citys twa or three

Coud loose me out o prison strong,

An coud mantain a lady free.”

O she has bribed her father’s men

Wi meikle goud and white money,

She’s gotten the key o the prison doors,

An she has set Young Bicham free.

She’s gi’n him a loaf o good white bread,

But an a flask o Spanish wine,

And she bad him mind on the ladie’s love

That sae kindly freed him out o pine.

“Go set your foot on good ship-board,

An haste you back to your ain country,

An before that seven years has an end,

Come back again, love, and marry me.”

It was lang or seven years had an end

She longd fu sair her love to see;

She’s set her foot on good ship-board,

An turnd her back on her ain country.

She’s saild up, so has she doun,

Till she came to the other side;

She’s landed at Young Bicham’s gates,

An I hop this day she sal be his bride.

“Is this Young Bicham’s gates?” says she,

“Or is that noble prince within?”

“He’s up the stairs wi his bonny bride,

An monny a lord and lady wi him.”

“O has he taen a bonny bride,

An has he clean forgotten me!”

An sighing said that gay lady,

“I wish I were in my ain country!”

But she’s pitten her han in her pocket,

An gin the porter guineas three;

Says, “Take ye that, ye proud porter,

An bid the bridegroom speak to me.”

O whan the porter came up the stair,

He’s fa’n low down upon his knee:

“Won up, won up, ye proud porter,

An what makes a’ this courtesy?”

“O l’ve been porter at your gates

This mair nor seven years an three,

But there is a lady at them now

The like of whom I never did see.

“For on every finger she has a ring,

An on the mid-finger she has three,

An there’s as meikle goud aboon her brow

As woud buy an earldome o lan to me.”

Then up it started Young Bicham,

An sware so loud by Our Lady,

“It can be nane but Shusy Pye,

That has come oer the sea to me.”

O quickly ran he down the stair,

O fifteen steps he has made but three;

He’s tane his bonny love in his arms,

An a wot he kissed her tenderly.

“O hae you taen a bonny bride?

An hae you quite forsaken me?

An hae ye quite forgotten her

That gae you life an liberty?”

She’s lookit oer her left shoulder

To hide the tears stood in her ee;

“Now fare thee well, Young Bicham” she says,

“I’ll strive to think nae mair on thee.”

“Take back your daughter, madam,” he says,

“An a double dowry I’ll gi her wi;

For I maun marry my first true love,

That’s done and suffered so much for me.”

He’s take his bonny love by the han,

And led her to yon fountain stane;

He’s changd her name frae Shusy Pye,

An he’s cald her his bonny love, Lady Jane.