"O mother give thine Arete, bestow her on the stranger, That I may have her solace dear when far away I wander."
"Though thou art wise, my Constantine, thou hast unwisely spoken: Be woe my lot or be it joy, who will restore my daughter?"
He calls to witness God above, he calls the holy martyrs, Be woe her lot, or be it joy, he would restore her daughter: And when they wedded Arete, in that far distant country, Then comes the year of sorrowing, and all the nine did perish.
All lonely was the mother left, like a reed alone in the meadow; O'er the eight graves she beats her breast, o'er eight is heard her wailing, And at the tomb of Constantine, she rends her hair in anguish.
"Arise, my Constantine, arise, for Arete I languish: On God to witness thou didst call, didst call the holy martyrs, Be woe my lot or be it joy, thou wouldst restore my daughter."
And forth at midnight hour he fares, the silent tomb deserting, He makes the cloud his flying steed, he makes the star his bridle, And by the silver moon convoyed, to bring her home he journeys: And finds her combing down her locks, abroad by silvery moonlight, And greets the maiden from afar, and from afar bespeaks her.
"Arise, my Aretula dear, for thee our mother longeth."
"Alas! my brother, what is this? what wouldst at such an hour?
If joy betide our distant home, I wear my golden raiment, If woe betide, dear brother mine, I go as now I'm standing."
"Think not of joy, think not of woe--return as here thou standest."
And while they journey on the way, all on the way returning, They hear the Birds, and what they sing, and what the Birds are saying.
"Ho! see the maiden all so fair, a Ghost it is that bears her."
"Didst hear the Birds, my Constantine, didst list to what they're saying?"
"Yes: they are Birds, and let them sing, they're Birds, and let them chatter:"
And yonder, as they journey on, still other Birds salute them.
"What do we see, unhappy ones, ah! woe is fallen on us;-- Lo! there the living sweep along, and with the dead they travel."
"Didst hear, my brother Constantine, what yonder Birds are saying?"
"Yes! Birds are they, and let them sing, they're Birds, and let them chatter."
"I fear for thee, my Brother dear, for thou dost breathe of incense."
"Last evening late we visited the church of Saint Johannes, And there the priest perfumed me o'er with clouds of fragrant incense."
And onward as they hold their way, still other Birds bespeak them:
"O God, how wondrous is thy power, what miracles thou workest!
A maid so gracious and so fair, a Ghost it is that bears her:"
'Twas heard again by Arete, and now her heart was breaking; "Didst hearken, brother Constantine, to what the Birds are saying?
Say where are now thy waving locks, thy strong thick beard, where is it?"
"A sickness sore has me befallen, and brought me near to dying."
They find the house all locked and barred, they find it barred and bolted, And all the windows of the house with cobwebs covered over.
"Unlock, O mother mine, unlock, thine Arete thou seest."
"If thou art Charon, get thee gone--I have no other children: My hapless Arete afar, in stranger lands is dwelling."
"Unlock, O mother mine, unlock, thy Constantine entreats thee.
I called to witness God above, I called the holy martyrs, Were woe thy lot, or were it joy, I would restore thy daughter."
And when unto the door she came, her soul from her departed.
THE HAWTHORN TREE.
Ritson's _Ancient Songs_, ii. 44.
_A Mery Ballet of the Hathorne Tre_, from a MS. in the Cotton Library, Vespasian, A. xxv. The MS. has "G. Peele" appended to it, but in a hand more modern than the ballad. Mr. Dyce, with very good reason, "doubts" whether Peele is the author of the ballad, but has printed it, Peele's _Works_, ii. 256. It is given also by Evans, i. 342, and partly in Chappell's _Popular Music_, i. 64.
The true character of this piece would never be suspected by one reading it in English. The same is true of the German, where the ballad is very common, and much prettier than in English, e.g. _Das Madchen und die Hasel_, _Das Madchen und der Sagebaum_, Erk's _Liederhort_, No. 33, five copies; Hoffmann, _Schlesische Volkslieder_, No. 100, three copies, etc. In Danish and Swedish we find a circumstantial story: _Jomfruen i Linden_, Grundtvig, No. 66; _Linden, Svenska Folkvisor_, No. 87. The tree is an enchanted damsel, one of eleven children transformed by a step-mother into various less troublesome things, and the spell can be removed only by a kiss from the king's son. By the intervention of the maiden, this rite is performed, and the beautiful linden is changed to as beautiful a young woman, who of course becomes the prince's bride. A Wendish ballad resembling the German is given by Haupt and Schmaler, and ballads akin to the Danish, are found in Slovensk and Lithuanian (see Grundtvig).
It was a maide of my countre, As she came by a hathorne-tre, As full of flowers as might be seen, 'She' merveld to se the tree so grene.
At last she asked of this tre, 5 "Howe came this freshness unto the, And every branche so faire and cleane?
I mervaile that you growe so grene."
The tre 'made' answere by and by: "I have good causse to growe triumphantly; 10 The swetest dewe that ever be sene Doth fall on me to kepe me grene."
"Yea," quoth the maid, "but where you growe, You stande at hande for every blowe; Of every man for to be seen; 15 I mervaile that you growe so grene."
"Though many one take flowers from me, And manye a branche out of my tre, I have suche store they wyll not be sene, For more and more my 'twegges'[L20] growe grene." 20
"But howe and they chaunce to cut the downe, And carry thie braunches into the towne?
Then will they never no more be sene To growe againe so freshe and grene."
"Though that you do, yt ys no boote; 25 Althoughe they cut me to the roote, Next yere againe I will be sene To bude my branches freshe and grene.
"And you, faire maide, canne not do so; For yf you let youre maid-hode goe, 30 Then will yt never no more be sene, As I with my braunches can growe grene."
The maide wyth that beganne to blushe, And turned her from the hathorne-bushe; She though[t]e herselffe so faire and clene, 35 Her bewtie styll would ever growe grene.
Whan that she harde this marvelous dowbte, She wandered styll then all aboute, Suspecting still what she would wene, Her maid-heade lost would never be seen. 40
Wyth many a sighe, she went her waye, To se howe she made herselff so gay, To walke, to se, and to be sene, And so out-faced the hathorne grene.
Besides all that, yt put her in feare 45 To talke with companye anye where, For feare to losse the thinge that shuld be sene To growe as were the hathorne grene.
But after this never could I here Of this faire mayden any where, 50 That ever she was in forest sene To talke againe of the hathorne grene.
ST. STEPHEN AND HEROD.
Ritson's _Ancient Songs_, i. 141, Sandys's _Christmas Carols_, p. 4: from the Sloane MS., No. 2593 (temp. Hen. VI.)
This curious little ballad was sung as a carol for St. Stephen's Day.
Its counterpart is found in Danish (though not in an ancient form), printed in Erik Pontoppidan's book on the relics of Heathenism and Papistry in Denmark, 1736 (_Jesusbarnet, Stefan, og Herodes_ Grundtvig, No. 96). There is also a similar ballad in Faroish. Only a slight trace of the story is now left in the Swedish _Staffans Visa_ (_Svenska F.V._, No. 99), which is sung as a carol on St. Stephen's Day, as may very well have been the case with the Danish and Faroish ballads too.
The miracle of the roasted cock occurs in many other legends. The earliest mention of it is in Vincent of Beauvais's _Speculum Historiale_, L. xxv. c. 64. It is commonly ascribed to St. James, sometimes to the Virgin. (See the preface to the ballad in Grundtvig, and to Southey's _Pilgrim to Compostella_.) We meet with it in another English carol called _The Carnal[E] and the Crane_, printed in Sandys's collection, p. 152, from a broadside copy, corrupt and almost unintelligible in places. The stanzas which contain the miracle are the following:
There was a star in the West land, So bright it did appear Into King Herod's chamber, And where King Herod were.
The Wise Men soon espied it, And told the king on high, A princely babe was born that night No king could e'er destroy.
"If this be true," King Herod said, "As thou tellest unto me, This roasted cock that lies in the dish Shall crow full fences[F] three."
The cock soon freshly feather'd was, By the work of God's own hand, And then three fences crowed he, In the dish where he did stand.