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


33. Balow

BALOW, my babe, lie still and sleep!

It grieves me sore to see thee weep,

Wouldst thou be quiet I’se be glad,

Thy mourning makes my sorrow sad:

Balow my boy, thy mother’s joy,

Thy father breeds me great annoy—

Balow, la-low!

When he began to court my love,

And with his sugred words me move,

His faynings false and flattering cheer

To me that time did not appear:

But now I see most cruellye.

He cares ne for my babe nor me—

Balow, la-low!

Lie still, my darling, sleep awhile,

And when thou wak’st thou’le sweetly smile:

But smile not as thy father did,

To cozen maids: nay, God forbid!

But yet I fear thou wilt go near

Thy father’s heart and face to bear—

Balow, la-low!

I cannot choose but ever will

Be loving to thy father still;

Where’er he go, where’er he ride,

My love with him doth still abide;

In weal or woe, where’er he go,

My heart shall ne’er depart him fro—

Balow, la-low!

But do not, do not, pretty mine,

To faynings false thy heart incline!

Be loyal to thy lover true,

And never change her for a new:

If good or fair, of her have care

For women’s banning’s wondrous sare-

Balow, la-low!

Bairn, by thy face I will beware;

Like Sirens’ words, I’ll come not near;

My babe and I together will live;

He’ll comfort me when cares do grieve.

My babe and I right soft will lie,

And ne’er respect man’s crueltye—

Balow, la-low!

Farewell, farewell, the falsest youth

That ever kist a woman’s mouth!

I wish all maids be warn’d by me

Never to trust man’s curtesye;

For if we do but chance to bow,

They’ll use us then they care not how—

Balow, la-low!