The Ballad of Chevy Chase

Later version - c.1620


GOD prosper long our noble king,
    Our lives and safeties all!
A woeful hunting once there did
    In Chevy Chase befall.

To drive the deer with hound and horn
    Earl Percy took his way;
The child may rue that is unborn
    The hunting of that day!

The stout Earl of Northumberland
    A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
    Three summer’s days to take.

The chiefest harts in Chevy Chase
    To kill and bear away.
These tidings to Earl Douglas came,
    In Scotland where he lay:

Who sent Earl Percy present word
    He would prevent his sport.
The English Earl, not fearing that,
    Did to the woods resort,

With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
    All chosen men of might,
Who knew full well in time of need
    To aim their shafts aright.

The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran
    To chase the fallow deer:
On Monday they began to hunt
    Ere daylight did appear;

And long before high noon they had
    An hundred fat bucks slain:
Then having dined, the drivers went
    To rouse the deer again.

Lord Percy to the quarry went
    To view the slaughter’d deer;
Quoth he, Earl Douglas promised
    This day to meet me here;

But if I thought he would not come
    No longer would I stay
With that a brave young gentleman
    Thus to the Earl did say:

Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come
    His men in armour bright—
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
    All marching in our sight.

Show me, said he, whose men you be
    That hunt so boldly here
That, without my consent do chase
    And kill my fallow deer?

The first man that did answer make
    Was noble Percy, he
Who said, We list not to declare
    Nor show whose men we be.

Yet we will spend our dearest blood
    Thy chiefest harts to slay.
Then Douglas swore a solemn oath
    And thus in rage did say:

Ere thus I will out-braved be
    One of us two shall die!
I know thee well, An earl thou art
    Lord Percy! so am I.

Our English archers bent their bows,
    Their hearts were good and true;
At the first flight of arrows sent
    Full fourscore Scots they slew.

At last these two stout Earls did meet
    Like captains of great might;
Like lions wud they laid on load
    And made a cruel fight.

They fought, until they both did sweat,
    With swords of tempered steel,
Until the blood, like drops of rain,
    They trickling down did feel.

O yield thee, Percy! Douglas said,
    In faith, I will thee bring
Where thou shalt high advanced be
    By James our Scottish king;

Thy ransom I will freely give,
    And this report of thee,
Thou art the most courageous knight
    That ever I did see.

No, Douglas; quoth Earl Percy then,
    Thy proffer I do scorn;
I will not yield to any Scot
    That ever yet was born!

With that there came an arrow keen
    Out of an English bow,
Which struck Earl Douglas to the heart,
    A deep and deadly blow;

Who never spake more words than these
    Fight on, my merry men all!
For why? my life is at an end,
    Lord Percy sees my fall.

Then leaving life, Earl Percy took
    The dead man by the hand;
And said, Earl Douglas! For thy life
    Would I had lost my land!

O Christ! my very heart doth bleed
    With sorrow for thy sake;
For sure a more redoubted knight
    Mischance could never take.

A knight among the Scots there was
    Who saw Earl Douglas die;
Who straight in wrath did vow revenge
    Upon the Lord Percy:

Sir Hugh Montgomery was he called,
    Who, with a spear full bright,
Well mounted on a gallant steed,
    Ran fiercely through the fight;

And past the English archers all,
    Without all dread or fear,
And through Earl Percy’s body then
    He thrust his hateful spear.

This fight did last from break of day
    Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening bell
    The battle scarce was done.

And the Lord Maxwell in like case
    Did with Earl Douglas die;
Of twenty hundred Scottish spears
    Scarce fifty-five did fly;

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen
    Went home but fifty-three;
The rest were slain in Chevy Chase
    Under the greenwood tree.

Next day did many widows come
    Their husbands to bewail;
They washed their wounds in brinish tears,
    But all would not prevail.

Their bodies bathed in purple gore
    They bore with them away;
They kissed their dead a thousand times
    When they were clad in clay.

God save our king, and bless this land
    With plenty, joy and peace,
And grant henceforth that foule debate
    ’Twixt noblemen may cease!

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