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The Knight’s Ghost

[ Roud 3889 ; Child 265 ; Ballad Index C265 ; trad.]

Kathryn Roberts sang The Knight’s Ghost on her and Sean Lakeman’s 2018 album Personae.


Kathryn Roberts sings The Knight’s Ghost

There is a fashion in this land and even in my own country,
Every Lady should meet her Lord when he is just come home from sea.
Some with hawks and some with hounds, others with their own money,
I will go down on my own and set my son upon his knee.
I took my baby in my arms and walked on down to the cold sea strand;
There I spied my father’s ship as it was sailing to land.

“I cannot see my husband here, why does he stay so far from me?
I only wish to greet my Lord, a sight I fear I’ll never see.
Was he burnt or was he shot? Was he drowned in the sea?
What’s become of my own Lord that he will not come home to me?”
“He wasn’t burnt nor was he shot, nor was he drowned in the sea,
But he was slain in battle hard, a fatal day for you and me.”

“Come in, come in, my fine young men, come in and drink wine with me;
All the better you shall fare for bringing this of this news to me.”
I took them down to the cellar dark, down the fifty steps and three;
There I gave them good red wine till they were as drunk could be.
Then I locked the cellar door; “Lie there forever more,“ I said,
“Lie there and rot for all I care for so you will be dead.”

I took the keys up in my hand and threw into the sea,
“Lie there till the fishes fly or till my Lord comes home to me.”
I lay down in my room and wept till I fell asleep,
Then appeared my husband’s ghost standing down at my bed feet.
“Here are the keys, my love,” he said, “ that you threw deep into the sea.
You must release my fine young men, they did not murder me.
They shot the shot and drew the blade and waded in blood to the knee;
No-one could have asked for more that my young nobles did for me.”

“My Lord there is a question I would ask before you go from me;
Can you say which day I’ll die and when will my burial be?”
“You will be wed to a finer Knight that ever was of my degree,
And children nine you will have my him, six of them will be ladies.
The other three will be bold young men and they will fight for their own country,
The first a Duke, the next a Knight, the third will be a Lord so free.”