The harlot, all this space, Did him oft embrace; 110 She flatters him, and thus doth say: "For thee Ile dye and live, For thee my faith Ile give, No wo shall work my love's decay; Thou shalt be my treasure, 115 Thou shalt be my pleasure, Thou shalt be my heart's delight: I will be thy darling, I will be thy worldling, In despight of fortune's spight." 120
Thus he did remain In wastfull great expences, Till it bred his pain, And consumed him quite.
When his lands were spent, 125 Troubled in his sences, Then he did repent Of his late lewd life.
For relief he hies, For relief he flyes 130 To them on whom he spent his gold: They do him deny, They do him defie; They will not once his face behold.
Being thus distressed, 135 Being thus oppressed, In the fields that night he lay; Which the harlot knowing, Through her malice growing, Sought to take his life away. 140
A young and proper lad They had slain in secret For the gold he had, Whom they did convey By a ruffian lewd 145 To that place directly, Where the youthful Knight Fast a sleeping lay.
The bloody dagger than, Wherewith they kill'd the man, 150 Hard by the Knight he likewise laid, Sprinkling him with blood, As he thought it good, And then no longer there he stayd.
The Knight, being so abused, 155 Was forthwith accused For this murder which was done; And he was condemned That had not offended; Shamefull death he might not shun. 160
When the Lady bright Understood the matter, That her wedded Knight Was condemn'd to dye, To the King she went 165 With all the speed that might be, Where she did lament Her hard destiny.
"Noble King!" quoth she, "Pitty take on me, 170 And pardon my poor husbands life; Else I am undone, With my little son: Let mercy mitigate this grief."
"Lady fair, content thee; 175 Soon thou wouldst repent thee, If he should be saved so: Sore he hath abus'd thee, Sore he hath misus'd thee; Therefore, Lady, let him go." 180
"O my liege!" quoth she, "Grant your gracious favour: Dear he is to me, Though he did me wrong."
The King reply'd again, 185 With a stern behaviour, "A subject he hath slain, Dye he shall ere long: Except thou canst find Any one so kind, 190 That will dye and set him free."
"Noble King!" she said, "Glad am I apaid; That same person will I be.
I will suffer duly, 195 I will suffer truly, For my love and husbands sake."
The King thereat amazed, Though he her beauty praised, He bad from thence they should her take.
It was the King's command, 201 On the morrow after She should out of hand To the scaffold go: Her husband was 205 To bear the sword before her; He must eke, alas!
Give the deadly blow.
He refus'd the deed; She bid him to proceed, 210 With a thousand kisses sweet.
In this wofull case They did both imbrace, Which mov'd the ruffians in that place Straight for to discover 215 This concealed murder; Whereby the lady saved was.
The harlot then was hanged, As she well deserved: This did vertue bring to passe. 220
WILLOW, WILLOW, WILLOW.
From Percy's _Reliques_, i. 210.
This is the "song of willow" from which Desdemona sings snatches in the Fourth Act of _Othello_, (Sc. 3.) The portions which occur in Shakespeare are the first stanza, and fragments of the fifth, sixth, and seventh; he also introduces a couplet which does not belong to the ballad as here given.
The Second Part is very likely a separate composition. Songs upon this model or with the same burden were not infrequent. See one in Park's _Heliconia_, Part i. 132, and another in _The Moral Play of Wit and Science_, (Shakespeare Society,) p. 86.
Percy gave this song from a black-letter copy in the Pepys collection, entitled _A Lover's Complaint, being forsaken of his Love_. Another version, differing principally in arrangement, is printed in the above cited publication of the Shakespeare Society, p. 126, from a MS. in the British Museum, "written about the year 1633."
A poore soule sat sighing under a sicamore tree; _O willow, willow, willow!_ With his hand on his bosom, his head on his knee.
_O willow, willow, willow!_ _O willow, willow, willow!_ 5 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland._
He sigh'd in his singing, and after each grone, _Come willow, &c._ "I am dead to all pleasure, my true-love is gone.
_O willow, &c._ 10 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland._
"My love she is turned; untrue she doth prove; _O willow, &c._ She renders me nothing but hate for my love.
_O willow, &c._ 15 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"O pitty me," cried he, "ye lovers, each one; _O willow, &c._ Her heart's hard as marble; she rues not my mone.
_O willow, &c._ 20 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c."_
The cold streams ran by him, his eyes wept apace; _O willow, &c._ The salt tears fell from him, which drowned his face.
_O willow, &c._ 25 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
The mute birds sate by him, made tame by his mones; _O willow, &c._ The salt tears fell from him, which softened the stones.
_O willow, &c._ 30 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland._
"Let nobody blame me, her scornes I do prove; _O willow, &c._ She was borne to be faire; I, to die for her love.
_O willow, &c._ 35 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"O that beauty should harbour a heart that's so hard!
_Sing willow, &c._ My true love rejecting without all regard.
_O willow, &c._ 40 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"Let love no more boast him in palace or bower; _O willow, &c._ For women are trothles, and flote in an houre.
_O willow, &c._ 45 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"But what helps complaining? In vaine I complaine: _O willow, &c._ I must patiently suffer her scorne and disdaine.
_O willow, &c._ 50 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"Come, all you forsaken, and sit down by me, _O willow, &c._ He that 'plaines of his false love, mine's falser than she.
_O willow, &c._ 55 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland._
"The willow wreath weare I, since my love did fleet; _O willow, &c._ A garland for lovers forsaken most meete.
_O willow, &c._ 60 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland!_"
PART THE SECOND.
"Lowe lay'd by my sorrow, begot by disdaine, _O willow, willow, willow!_ Against her too cruell, still, still I complaine.
_O willow, willow, willow!_ _O willow, willow, willow!_ 5 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland!_
"O love too injurious, to wound my poore heart, _O willow, &c._ To suffer the triumph, and joy in my smart!
_O willow, &c._ 10 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"O willow, willow, willow! the willow garland, _O willow, &c._ A sign of her falsenesse before me doth stand.
_O willow, &c._ 15 _Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland._
"As here it doth bid to despair and to dye, _O willow, &c._ So hang it, friends, ore me in grave where I lye.
_O willow, &c._ 20 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"In grave where I rest mee, hang this to the view, _O willow, &c._ Of all that doe knowe her, to blaze her untrue.
_O willow, &c._ 25 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"With these words engraven, as epitaph meet, _O willow, &c._ 'Here lyes one, drank poyson for potion most sweet.'
_O willow, &c._ 30 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._
"Though she thus unkindly hath scorned my love, _O willow, &c._ And carelesly smiles at the sorrowes I prove; _O willow, &c._ 35 _Sing, O the greene willow, &c._