Fair Margaret and Sweet William
No: 74; variant: 74A
- As it fell out on a long summer’s day,
Two lovers they sat on a hill;
They sat together that long summer’s day,
And could not talk their fill.
- ‘I see no harm by you, Margaret,
Nor you see none by me;
Before tomorrow eight a clock
A rich wedding shall you see.’
- Fair Margaret sat in her bower-window,
A combing of her hair,
And there she spy’d Sweet William and his bride,
As they were riding near.
- Down she layd her ivory comb,
And up she bound her hair;
She went her way forth of her bower,
But never more did come there.
- When day was gone, and night was come,
And all men fast asleep,
Then came the spirit of Fair Margaret,
And stood at William’s feet.
- ‘God give you joy, you two true lovers,
In bride-bed fast asleep;
Loe I am going to my green grass grave,
And am in my winding-sheet.’
- When day was come, and night was gone,
And all men wak’d from sleep,
Sweet William to his lady said,
My dear, I have cause to weep.
- ‘I dreamd a dream, my dear lady;
Such dreams are never good;
I dreamd my bower was full of red swine,
And my bride-bed full of blood.’
- ‘Such dreams, such dreams, my honoured lord,
They never do prove good,
To dream thy bower was full of swine,
And [thy] bride-bed full of blood.’
- He called up his merry men all,
By one, by two, and by three,
Saying, I’ll away to Fair Margaret’s bower,
By the leave of my lady.
- And when he came to Fair Margaret’s bower,
He knocked at the ring;
So ready was her seven brethren
To let Sweet William in.
- He turned up the covering-sheet:
‘Pray let me see the dead;
Methinks she does look pale and wan,
She has lost her cherry red.
- ‘I’ll do more for thee, Margaret,
Than any of thy kin;
For I will kiss thy pale wan lips,
Tho a smile I cannot win.’
- With that bespeak her seven brethren,
Making most pitious moan:
‘You may go kiss your jolly brown bride,
And let our sister alone.’
- ‘If I do kiss my jolly brown bride,
I do but what is right;
For I made no vow to your sister dear,
By day or yet by night.
- ‘Pray tell me then how much you’ll deal
Of your white bread and your wine;
So much as is dealt at her funeral today
Tomorrow shall be dealt at mine.’
- Fair Margaret dy’d today, today,
Sweet William he dy’d the morrow;
Fair Margaret dy’d for pure true love,
Sweet William he dy’d for sorrow.
- Margaret was buried in the lower chancel,
Sweet William in the higher;
Out of her breast there sprung a rose,
And out of his a brier.
- They grew as high as the church-top,
Till they could grow no higher,
And then they grew in a true lover’s knot,
Which made all people admire.
- There came the clerk of the parish,
As you this truth shall hear,
And by misfortune cut them down,
Or they had now been there.