Song Lyric Sunday: Vengeance – ‘The Outlandish Knight’

I have to admit that this week’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday had me stumped for a while: anger, rage, fury – all very festive. Nothing came to mind.

Eventually, I resorted – which I very rarely do for this blog – to throwing a cent or two into the ‘Keep Larry Page rich’ fund and googled songs about revenge. Most of the ones that came up were, shall we say, rather after my time.

However, there was one that featured names from the depths of my folky past in the late sixties: the English sisters Shirley and Dolly Collins. They were in the vanguard of the sixties folk revival in the UK, resurrecting traditional songs presented in a traditional way.

The Outlandish Knight (also sometimes known as ‘Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight’) has been covered many times and sees a rogue ‘gentleman’ getting his come-uppance.

An outlandish knight came from the northlands;
And he came wooing to me;
He said he would take me to foreign lands
And he would marry me.

Go fetch me some of your father’s gold,
And some of your mother’s fee,
And two of the best nags from out of the stable,
Where there stand thirty and three.

She mounted upon her milkwhite steed,
And he on his dapple grey;
They rode till they came unto the seaside,
Three hours before it was day.

Light off, light on, thy milk white steed;
Deliver it up unto me;
For six pretty maidens I have drown’d here,
And thou the seventh shall be.

Doff off, doff off thy silken things,
Deliver them up unto me;
I think that they look too rich and too gay
To rot all in the salt sea.

If I must doff off my silken things,
Pray turn thy back unto me;
For it is not fitting that such a ruffian
A naked woman should see.

And cut thou away the brambles so sharp,
The brambles from off the brim
That they may not tangle my curly locks,
Nor scratch my lilywhite skin.

He turned around his back to her
And bent down over the brim.
She caught him around the middle so small
And bundled him into the stream.

He dropped high, he dropped low,
Until he came to the side;
Catch hold of my hand, my fair pretty maid,
And thee I will make my bride.

Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man,
Lie there instead of me,
For six pretty maidens hast thou a-drowned here
The seventh hath drown-ed thee.

She mounted on her milk white steed,
And led the dapple-grey;
She rode till she came to her father’s house,
Three hours before it was day.

The parrot hung in the window so high,
And heard what the lady did say;
What ails thee, what ails thee, my pretty lady,
You’ve tarried so long away?

The king was up in his bed-room so high,
And heard what the parrot did say:
What ails thee, what ails thee, my pretty Polly,
You prattle so long before today?

It’s no laughing matter, the parrot did say,
That loudly I call unto thee;
For the cat has a-got in the window so high,
I fear that she will have me.

Well turn-ed, well turned, my pretty Polly;
Well turned, well turn-ed for me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
And the door of the best ivory.

Traditional

Song Lyric Sunday 26 December 2021

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