Lady Maisry
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

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This ballad is Child Ballad #65. It dates at least to the early 1800's and, of course, is probably much older.

The first part of the Scottish version of the ballad (which Sharp does not include) has Lady Maisry rejecting the Northern lords who come to court her. Instead, she and Lord William become lovers. When her brothers discover their liaison they take advantage of Lord William's absence and burn her at the stake. In some versions when Lord William returns to find his lover dead he kills the father, mother and brothers and then throws himself into the flames - or becomes a pilgrim and names the page-boy his heir.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

She called to her little pageboy,
Who was her brother's son.
She told him quick as he could go,
To bring her lord safe home.

Now the very first mile he would walk
And the second he would run,
And when he came to a broken, broken bridge,
He bent his breast and swum.

And when he came to the new castell,
The lord was set at meat;
If you were to know as much as I,
How little you would eat!

O is my tower falling, falling down,
Or does my bower burn?
Or is my gay lady put to bed
With a daughter or a son?

O no, your tower is not falling down,
Nor does your bower burn;
But we are afraid ere you return,
Your lady will be dead and gone.

Come saddle, saddle my milk-white steed,
Come saddle my pony too,
That I may neither eat nor drink,
Till I come to the old castell.

Now when he came to the old castell,
He heard a big bell toll;
And then he saw eight noble, noble men,
A bearing of a pall.

Lay down, lay down, that gentle, gentle corpse,
As it lay fast asleep,
That I may kiss her red ruby lips,
Which I used to kiss so sweet.

Six times he kissed her red ruby lips,
Nine times he kissed her chin.
Ten times he kissed her snowy, snowy breast,
Where love did enter in.

The lady was buried on that Sunday,
Before the prayer was done;
And the lord he died on the next Sunday,
Before the prayer begun.
From One Hundred English Folksongs
See Bibliography for full information.