Gateway to the Classics: Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by  Arthur Quiller-Couch


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!

— Anonymous
16th century   

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