> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Outlandish Knight
> Shirley Collins > Songs > The Outlandish Knight
> Waterson:Carthy > Songs > The Outlandish Knight
> Cara > Songs > Sir John

Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight / The Outlandish Knight / Sir John

[ Roud 21 ; Child 4 ; G/D 2:225 ; Henry H163 ; Ballad Index C004 ; VWML AW/6/115 ; Bodleian Roud 21 ; Wiltshire 922 ; Mudcat 18292 , 67828 ; trad.]

Jumbo Brightwell sang The False-Hearted Knight at the Eel's Foot in Eastbridge, Suffolk. This recording by E.J. Moeran was broadcast on the BBC Third Programme in late 1947. It was included in 1955 on the anthology The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music - Volume III: England which was reissued on CD in 1998 as part of Rouder's Alan Lomax Collection. It was also included in 1975 on Brightwell's Topic album Songs from the Eel's Foot, in the early 2000s on the Snatch'd from Oblivion CD East Anglia Sings, and in 2000 on the Veteran CD of traditional singing and music from The Eel's Foot, Good Order! Ladies and Gentlemen Please.

Fred Jordan sang this song as Six Pretty Maids. A recording made by Peter Kennedy for the BBC in 1952 was included on The Child Ballads 1 (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 4; Caedmon 1961, Topic 1968) and in 2003 on his Veteran anthology A Shropshire Lad. A later recording by Tony Foxworthy was released on his 1974 Topic album When the Frost Is on the Pumpkin. and on the Topic “celebration of English traditional music” of 1996, Hidden English.

A.L. Lloyd sang The Outlandish Knight in 1956 on his and Ewan MacColl's Riverside anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume I. Like all of his tracks from this anthology it was reissued in 2011 on his Fellside album Bramble Briars and Beams of the Sun.

Another version collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1908 from Mr Hilton, South Walsham, Norfolk, was published in 1959 in his and Lloyd's The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. A.L. Lloyd recorded a version shortened by four verses for his 1960 EP England & Her Folk Songs. Like all tracks from this EP it was reissued in 2003 on the CD England & Her Traditional Songs. Lloyd wrote in the album's sleeve notes:

Cecil Sharp believed this to be the widest circulated of all our folk ballads, “outlandish” here means coming from beyond the northern border—that is, Scotland. The story told is an ancient one of a beguiling lover who entices a whole sequence of girls to their deaths. Ballads on the same theme are known in Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, Holland, France; and perhaps the Bluebeard story is a first cousin to our song. Probably the lover was originally a malevolent water spirit who drowned the girls of his choice. If so, this supernatural element has become so vague as to be almost unnoticeable, as the ballad has passed from mouth to mouth. The rather humorous pay-off concerning the sly talking bird was detached from the ballad in Victorian times, and was made into a separate comic song, Tell-tale Polly, published in Charley Fox's Minstrel Companion (c. 1861), and is an example of the downward path taken by some of our grander specimens of folklore. Vaughan Williams obtained the tune of his version in South Walsham, Norfolk.

Sam Larner sang The Outlandish Knight at home in Winterton, Norfolk in a recording made by Philip Donnellan for the BBC in 1958/59. It was release in 1974 on his Topic album A Garland for Sam.

Fred Hamer collected The Outlandish Knight (The Dappledy Grey) from May Bradley in Ludlow, Shropshire, and published in in 1967 in his book Garners Gay. It was also included in 1971 on the accompanying EFDSS album Garners Gay and in 2010 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sweet Swansea.

Sarah Porter sang The Outlandish Knight in a recording made Brian Matthews at The Three Cups in Punnetts Town in 1965. It was published in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from country pubs, Just Another Saturday Night.

LaRena Clark sang this ballad as The Dapple Grey in a recording made by Edith Fowke in Toronto in 1965. It was released in 1969 on her Topic album of folksongs from the Province of Ontario, A Canadian Garland.

Cyril Tawney sang The Outlandish Knight in 1969 as the title track of his Polydor album of traditional ballads from Devon and Cornwall, The Outlandish Knight. He noted:

Collected in May-June 1891 by Baring-Gould from 86-year-old James Masters of Bradstone, Devon (the singer who gave him the original of the now world-famous Strawberry Fair). There can be few more widespread or persistent ballads than this one, even though the elfish nature of the knight has disappeared. Nearly all English versions conclude with the delightful episode of the co-operative parrot. It may have been this part of the story which led another of Baring-Gould's singers to insist on calling the ballad “The Outlandish Cat”.

Shirley Collins sang The Outlandish Knight on her and her sister Dolly's 1970 album Love, Death & the Lady. Nic Jones recorded it in the same year for his first album, Ballads and Songs, and a year later for his eponymous album Nic Jones. He noted on his first album:

Three very common ballads are included in this record: Sir Patrick Spens, The Outlandish Knight and Little Musgrave. All three are well-known to anyone with a knowledge of balladry, as they are well represented in most ballad collections. … The melody for The Outlandish Knight is from Cecil Sharp's published collection of English Folk Songs.

and in the latter album notes:

This is a further version of a song that appeared on my first LP. I find that certain songs appeal to me on the strength of certain phrases or words that are enjoyable to sing due to their inherent lyrical quality. This is one of them.

Barbara Dickson sang this ballad as Fine Flowers in the Valley in 1971 on her Decca album From the Beggar's Mantle… Fringed With Gold.

Martin Carthy sang this ballad with a few more verses in 1972 on his album Shearwater and Norma Waterson on Waterson:Carthy's album of 2002, A Dark Light. He noted on the first album:

In the days before the Padstow May revels became the target of annual folk pilgrimage (however non-organised), I remember Cyril Tawney talking about the effect that the incessant beat of the big drum, used to accompany the Padstow May Song, had on revellers. These included local people, people from round about, tourists (plenty of them), and the inevitable gangs of Teds and leather boys, who went along to take the mickey. Invariably, the Teds and leather boys would end up partaking wild-eyed, with the most incredible dervish-like frenzy.

Come spring, a young woman's fancy turns too, and this feeling of the sap rising prevails upon my feeling towards The Outlandish Knight in general. Having been saved from death, bot not from a fate worse than death, by her own presence of mind, she is protected from parental wrath by the presence of mind of her self seeking, get-ahead pet parrot. There's a moral somewhere. The tune is my own.

and on the second:

Norma learned Death and the Lady from [the Cecil Sharp collection]. It's a dark song here and she did what was second nature to the Watersons in their heyday, transforming the tune by altering just a couple of notes. Similarly, but this time rhythmically, she also tweaked (ever so slightly) the tune of The Outlandish Knight as found in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. This most mysterious of songs has haunted her for years ever since she heard it (with a different melody) from the great Shropshire singer, Fred Jordan. Mysterious in a different way is how it can be that so old and so widespread a song should, wherever it is found, display so very little variation as far as the words are concerned.

Tom Gilfellon sang The Outlandish Knight in 1972 on his Trailer album Loving Mad Tom.

Mary Ann Haynes sang this ballad as The Young Officer in a recording made by Mike Yates in her home in Brighton, Sussex in December 1972. It was published in 1975 on the Topic album Songs of the Open Road and in 1998 on the Topic anthology My Father's the King of the Gypsies (The Voice of the People Series Volume 12).

The Broadside from Grimsby sang Outlandish Knight in 1973 on their Topic album of songs and ballads collected in Lincolnshire, The Moon Shone Bright.

Charlotte Renals of the West Country travelling families, the Orchards, sang The Outlandish Knight in a recording made by Pete Coe in 1978. It was released in 2003 on the Veteran CD of songs from Cornish travellers, Catch Me If You Can. Her nephew Vic Legg sang The Outlandish Knight in 1994 on the Veteran cassette I've Come to Sing a Song: Cornish Family Songs that was reissued on CD in 2000.

Frankie Armstrong sang The Outlandish Knight in 1980 on her album And the Music Plays So Grand. She noted:

This is a very widespread ballad, indicated by it's being number four in the Child collection. Versions have been found all over Europe, including Scandinavia. While it is found in many old collections it's also widely found on the lips of country singers today. Obviously its blend of the mythic and the farcical appeals as much today as it ever did. The tune used here has been pinched from a beautiful version of The Demon Lover from Scotland, called James Harris.

Jim Eldon sang this ballad as Six Pretty Maids on his 1984 album I Wish There Was No Prisons.

Bill Cassidy sang this ballad as Pretty Polly on the 1986 EFDSS cassette Early in the Month of Spring that was reissued in 2003 as part of the Musical Traditions anthology of songs of Irish travellers in England, From Puck to Appleby.

Kevin Mitchell sang False Lover John in 1996 on his Greentrax CD I Sang That Sweet Refrain. Another recording was included in 2001 on his and Ellen Mitchells Musical Tradition anthology Have a Drop Mair. Rod Stradling noted:

Kevin: An excellent version of The Outlandish Knight from the singing of Corney McDaid, of Inishowen, Co Donegal. Corney sang this song to me at a singing session in the Excelsior Bar, Buncrana.

As The Outlandish Knight, not to mention a host of other titles, this ballad is exceptionally well-known all over the Anglophone world; Roud has 578 examples cited. It was frequently found in England and Scotland, but less so in Ireland; indeed it has only been recorded twice from the Irish oral tradition. The only instance of the ballad under this present title was collected from Corney McDaid of Cockhill, Co Donegal, by Jimmy McBride and Jim McFarland. Among vast range of titles used, many of the Irish ones and quite a lot of the older ones, include the name of May Colvin (as in May Colven in Child or May Colvine and Fause Sir John in Bronson)—one may assume the Corney's Michalín is derived from her.

Steeleye Span's recorded this song with the title The Elf-Knight in 1996 for their album Time. A live recording from St. David's Hall, Cardiff on 6 December 1994 was released on their 25th anniversary tour video, 25 Live. Another live recording from The Forum, London on 2 September 1995 was released on the CD The Journey. They noted on the original album:

A simple but vivid story, this ballad evokes many powerful images—a hazy afternoon in late June when the roses are full blown—Lady Isabel sitting alone in a castle room, with a shaft of sunlight playing on the tapestry that she is weaving—somewhere out there, beyond this world and the “fields we know,” the elf-knight sits, arrogant, dark and brooding. He blows his horn and enchants her—she breathes a wish for him—in an instant he has broken through the barrier—two worlds collide, reality and fantasy, good and evil …

Moira Craig sang May Colvin on her 2000 album On ae Bonny Day. She noted:

The version I originally found of this said it was “an old ballad adapted for singing”. I realised it was a version of the Outlandish Knight despite having no cat or parrot. I then discovered a much fuller version in a little book called Bibliotheca Curiosa. I have added a few more verses from this that I hadn't come across before. (Still no cat or parrot!). This is also known as Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight.

John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded The Outlandish Knight with Martin Carthy's melody from Shearwater for their 2003 duo album Bellow, and snag it with Bellowhead in 2006 on their CD Burlesque. And Jon Boden sang it unaccompanied as the 3 May 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. They noted on the first CD:

The first of two songs [besides Brown Adam] on the album that owe their melody to the great Martin Carthy. A cautionary tale—remember girls if a strange bloke playing the trumpet jumps through your window in the middle of the night and asks you out on a date—just say no.

Brian Peters sang The Outlandish Knight in 2003 on his CD Different Tongues.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman sang this ballad as The Willow Tree in 2003 on their album 2.. They recorded it again for their 2020 album On Reflection.

Cara took a version of this ballad called False Sir John from B.H. Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, changed the verses somewhat and wrote a new melody. They recorded it as Sir John for their 2004 CD, In Colour.

Pete Coe sang The Outlandish Knight in 2004 on his CD In Paper Houses. He noted:

I first heard Fred Jordan sing his version of this ballad in the '60s and I always asked him to sing it for me. This version was collected by Frank Kidson from Charles Lolley and I eventually got to sing it to Fred. There are related stories and versions of this tale found throughout Asia and Europe and the earliest illustration dates back to 300 BC.

Chris Foster sang The False Hearted Knight in 2004 on his Tradition Bearers CD Jewels.

Roger Grimes sang The Outlandish Knight, one of the songs sung at the Golden Fleece in Stroud in the early 2000s, on the Musical Traditions anthology Songs from the Golden Fleece, published in 2005. The actual recording was made in Rod and Danny Stradling's kitchen to prevent intrusions of staff, other customers and noise from the bars.

Chris Bartram sang Six Pretty Maids in 1998 on his and Keith Holloway's WildGoose CD From the Vale. He noted:

Travelling around the pubs with my fiddle in the 1960s produced some interesting results. Sometimes it was literally, “Thanks very much, but would you leave now,” or else people would start to sing! It was one night in Uffington, I forgot in which pub, when everything was just right and somebody sang Six Pretty Maids. The following morning was still in my head and it's been there ever since.

Cath and Phil Tyler sang Castle by the Sea in 2009 on their album The Hind Wheels of Bad Luck.

Rosie Hood sang The Outlandish Knight in 2011 on her eponymous EP Rosie Hood. She used the verses collected from the singing of Edward Warren, South Marston, Wiltshire, by Alfred Williams, who reported that the song was “very popular throughout the Thames Valley.”

Alasdair Roberts sang False Lover John in 2011 on Concerto Caledonia's CD Revenge of the Folksingers, giving Kenin Mitchell's recording as his source.

Andy Turner learned The Outlandish Knight from Fred Hamer's book Garners Gay. He sang it as the 4 March 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Gavin Davenport sang Castle by the Sea in 2013 on his Haystack CD The Bone Orchard. He noted:

I learned this from Cath Tyler, and this distressingly cheerful serial killer ballad comes from the singing of Lena Bourke Fish via the Frank & Anne Warner Collection. It's a short, chirpy version of The Outlandish Knight.

Lauren McCormick sang this ballad as Lady Isobel in 2012 on her WildGoose CD On Bluestockings.

Kate Rusby sang The Elfin Knight in 2014 on her CD Ghost. She also wrote a similarly-themed song with the same name, The Elfin Knight, which she sang on her 2005 CD The Girl Who Couldn't Fly, on her 2008 EP Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, and on her 2012 anniversary album Twenty.

Tim Eriksen sang Castle by the Sea in 2015 on his and Eliza Carthy's Navigator CD Bottle. He noted:

This comes from Lena Bourne Fish of East Jaffray, New Hampshire, who knew more old songs that just about anyone and published her own, hand typed, fanzine, containing recipes, aphorisms and songs, including gems of her own composition like Take an Aspirin, a sardonic take on novel and simplistic answers offered for the world's persistent problems. Not a lot of castle around Jaffray, as far as I've seen, but the song rings true nevertheless.

Alice Jones sang The Castle by the Sea on her 2016 CD Poor Strange Girl. She noted:

This is another song from the Frank and Anne Warner book. It was collected from Lena Bourne Fish in 1940. I love this song because the woman gains the upper hand!

Will Noble sang The Outlandish Knight on his 2017 Veteran CD It's Gritstone for Me. Brian Peters and John Howson noted:

An old ballad (Child 4) very popular with English traditional singers over many years. Will had it from Fred Jordan, who encouraged his singing and became a cherished friend: “I spent a lot of time with Fred ad various events and heard him sing it so many times that I found I knew it.” Those with fond memories of the Shropshire man's rendition of the ballad will enjoy the moment at which Will channels Fred's characteristic aside!

Rachael McShane sang Lady Isabel in 2018 on her Topic album with The Cartographers, When All Is Still. She noted:

A version of The Outlandish Knight (which I always loved playing in Bellowhead), Lady Isabel is a song about a serial killer who gets all he deserves in the end.

I found this version in Alan Lomax's The Folk Songs of North America. There was much discussion when we arranged this song about whether to keep the parrot verses. Matthew [Ord] was initially anti-parrot but in the end the parrot prevailed, after all how often do you find a song that ends in the bribery of a sentient parrot?

The Askew Sisters sang Castle by the Sea on their 2019 CD Enclosure. They noted:

We love the text of this unusual version of Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight for its striking and wild imagery, which echoes the darkness of the woman's plight in the song. It was collected by Frank and Anne Warner from Lena Bourne Fish in East Jaffrey, New Hampshire in 1940 [VWML RoudFS/S140510] , when she was in her sixties. Lena (often known as Grammy Fish), had inherited an immense song repertoire that had been kept in her family for more than two hundred years. It’s not uncommon for dark ballads to have unexpectedly jolly tunes; we experimented with setting this one to a more modal melody, but it firmly wanted to stick with the traditional tune, so we stopped messing with it and let it be!

Kirsty Merryn sang The Outlandish Knight in 2020 on her album Our Bright Night.

Rachel Newton sang The Early Morning on her 2020 album To the Awe. She noted:

Lyrics based on the ballad The False-Hearted Knight, a variation of Child ballad #4 Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight from Barry, Eckstorm and Smyth's collection British Ballads from Maine, sung by Mrs. A.W. (Barry) Lindenberg, Shirley, Mass, 1922.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings The Outlandish KnightNorma Waterson sings The Outlandish Knight

An outlandish knight from the north lands came,
And he came wooing of me;
And he told me he'd take me to that northern land,
And there he would marry me.

Well, an outlandish knight from the northern lands came,
He came wooing of me;
He told me he'd take me up to the north lands,
There he would marry me.

“Go fetch me some of your father's gold,
Some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best of your father's horses,
There stands thirty and three.”

She's fetched him some of her father's gold,
Some of her mother's fee,
And two of the best of her father's horses,
There stands thirty and three.

Well, she mounted on her lily-white horse,
And he upon the grey.
And away they did ride to the fair river side,
Three hours before it was day.

Then she's mounted on her milk-white steed,
He's rode the dapple grey.
They rode till they came to the broad riverside,
Three hours before it was day.

He says, “Unlight, unlight, my little Polly,
Unlight, unlight,” cries he,
“For six pretty maids I've drowned here before,
And the seventh thou art to be.”

“Light down, light down, my pretty fair maid,
Light down, light down,” cried he,
“Six pretty maidens I've drowned here,
And the seventh one you shall be.”

“Pull off, pull off your silken gown,
Deliver it over to me.
For it is too fine and much too fair
To rot in the salt water sea.”

She said, “Go get a sickle to crop the thistle
That grows beside the brim,
That it may not mingle with my curly locks
Nor harm my lily-white skin.”

“Go get me a sickle to crop off the thistle
That grows beneath the brim,
It will not mingle with my curly locks
Or mangle my glittering skin.”

So He got a sickle to crop the thistle
That grew beside the brim,
And she catched him around the middle so small,
And tumbled him into the stream.

He's got the sickle to crop off the thistle
That grows beneath the brim,
She's caught him round by his middle so small,
Tumbled him into the stream.

Sometimes he sank, sometimes he swam,
Down to the bank came he.
“Oh help me, oh help me, my pretty fair maid,
Or drowned I shall be”

“Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man,
Lie there instead of me,
Six pretty maidens you've drowned here.
But the seventh one has drowned thee.”

Then she mounted on her lily-white horse,
And she did ride away,
And she arrived at her father's door
Three hours before it was day.

She's mounted on her milk-white steed,
And led the dapple grey,
She rode till she came to her father's door
An hour before it was day.

Now the parrot being in the window so high;
A-hearing the lady, he did say,
“I'm afraid that some ruffian have led you astray,
That you've tarried so long away.”

But the parrot was up in his window so high;
On hearing the lady, he did say,
“I was afraid that some ruffians had done you harm,
You've tarried so long before day.”

“Don't prittle, don't prattle, my pretty Polly,
Nor tell no tales of me,
And your cage shall be of the glittering gold,
And your perch of the best ivory.”

“Don't prittle, don't prattle, my pretty Polly,
Don't tell no tales of me,
Your cage shall be made of the glistening gold,
And your perch of the best ivory.”

Now the master being in the bedroom so high,
A-hearing that parrot, he did say,
“What's the matter with you, my pretty Polly,
You're prattling so long before day?”

But her father was up in the bedroom so high,
Hearing the parrot, did say,
“What is the matter, my pretty Polly,
You've cried so long before day?”

“There came an old cat on the top of my cage,
To take my sweet life away,
I was just calling on my young mistress,
To drive that old puss away.”

“Oh, there came an old cat in my window high,
To take my life away,
And I was just calling my young mistress,
To scare that old pussy away.”

Martin Carthy sings The Outlandish KnightNorma Waterson sings The Outlandish Knight

Lady Margaret she sits in her bower sewing,
Baba and a lily-va,
When she saw the knight with his horn a-blowing,
On the very first morning of May.

Well, an outlandish knight from the northern lands came,
He came wooing of me;
He told me he'd take me up to the north lands,
There he would marry me.

“Oh would your lord would give to me rest,
And it's baba and a lily-va,
And that young knight lay here on my breast,
On the very first morning of May.”

Now the lady she had these words scarce spoken,
And baba and a lily-va,
When in at her window the knight come a-jumping,
On the very first morning of May.

“Oh strange it is, oh strange, young woman,
And baba and a lily-va,
I can scarce blow my horn but I hear you a-calling,
On the very first morning of May.”

“Go get you gold from your father's table,
Deliver it all unto me,
And the two fastest horses in your father's stable,
Where there stand thirty and three.”

“Go fetch me some of your father's gold,
Some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best of your father's horses,
There stands thirty and three.”

She's fetched him some of her father's gold,
Some of her mother's fee,
And two of the best of her father's horses,
There stands thirty and three.

Now she's mounted her up on the black, black horse,
And he's rode on the dapple grey.
And they rode till they come to the broad seaside,
Just three hours before it was day.

Then she's mounted on her milk-white steed,
He's rode the dapple grey.
They rode till they came to the broad riverside,
Three hours before it was day.

“Light down, light down off your horse, ” he cries,
“And deliver him up unto me.
For it's six pretty maids I have drowned here,
And the seventh one you shall be.”

“Light down, light down my pretty fair maid,
Light down, light down,” cried he,
“Six pretty maidens I've drowned here,
And the seventh one you shall be.”

“Take off, take off all your clothes,” he cries,
“And deliver them all unto me.
For they are too fine and costly robes
For to rot in the salt salt sea.”

“Pull off, pull off your silken gown,
Deliver it over to me.
For it is too fine and much too fair
To rot in the salt water sea.”

“Light down, light down off your horse,” she cries,
“And turn your back unto me.
For it's not fitting that any gentleman
A naked lady should see.”

“Go get me a sickle to crop off the thistle
That grows beneath the brim,
It will not mingle with my curly locks
Or mangle my glittering skin.”

So he's lighted him down off his horse so high,
And he's turned his back unto she,
And she's catched him around his middle so small,
And she's tumbled him all down in the sea.

He's got the sickle to crop off the thistle
That grows beneath the brim,
She's caught him round by his middle so small,
Tumbled him into the stream.

Sometimes he sank, sometimes he swam,
And it's baba and a lily-va,
“Oh help, oh help, o you pretty fair maid,
Or drownded I shall be.”

Sometimes he sank, sometimes he swam,
Down to the bank came he.
“Oh help me, oh help me, my pretty fair maid,
Or drowned I shall be”

“Lie there, lie there, o you false young man,
Lie there instead of me,
For it's six pretty maids you have drownded here,
And the seventh one have drownded thee.”

“Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man,
Lie there instead of me,
Six pretty maidens you've drowned here.
But the seventh one has drowned thee.”

So she's mounted her up on the black, black horse,
And she's led the dapple grey,
And she's rode till she come to her father's yard
Just an hour before it was day.

She's mounted on her milk-white steed,
And led the dapple grey,
She rode till she came to her father's door
An hour before it was day.

And a parrot sitting up at his window so high,
And baba and a lily-va,
“Oh where have you been my pretty mistress,
So long before it is day.”

But the parrot was up in his window so high;
On hearing the lady, he did say,
“I was afraid that some ruffians had done you harm,
You've tarried so long before day.”

“Don't you prittle, don't you prattle, o my pretty Polly,
Don't tell no tales on me,
And your cage shall be made of the finest glittering gold,
And your perch of the best ivory.”

“Don't prittle, don't prattle, my pretty Polly,
Don't tell no tales of me,
Your cage shall be made of the glistening gold,
And your perch of the best ivory.”

And her father sitting up at his window so high,
And on hearing the parrot, he did say,
“Oh what is the matter, my pretty Polly,
That you cry so long before the day?”

But her father was up in the bedroom so high,
Hearing the parrot, did say,
“What is the matter, my pretty Polly,
You've cried so long before day?”

“Oh there come a cat to my window so high,
And it's baba and a lily-va,
And I was a-calling my pretty mistress,
Just to frighten that pussycat away.”

“Oh, there came an old cat in my window high,
To take my life away,
And I was just calling my young mistress,
To scare that old pussy away.”

Shirley Collins sings The Outlandish KnightNic Jones sings The Outlandish Knight

And he's followed her up, he's followed her down,
And it's into the room where she lay.
She hadn't the strength for to flee from his arms
So they tumbled - to answer him nay.

An outlandish knight from the north lands came,
He come a-courting me;
And he promised he'd take me into the north lands,
And there would marry me.

“Rise up, rise up, my pretty Polly,
Rise up and go with me.
I will take you to North Scotland
And there you'll married be.”

“Go fetch me some of your father's gold,
Some of your mother's fee,
And the two best horses that are in your yard,
Where there stands thirty and three.”

“Go fetch you a bag of your father's gold,
Some of your mother's fee.
Two fine horses out of the stable,
There stand thirty and three.”

So she rode away on their milk-white steed,
He on the dapple grey,
And they rode till they come to the banks of the sea,
Three hours before it was day.

So she's lit upon her nimble-going brown
And he's mounted the dapple grey.
When they come to North Scotland
It was just three hours till day.

“Unlight, unlight, my pretty little girl,
Deliver that gold to me.
For six pretty maidens I have drownded here
And the seventh one you shall be.”

“Light you down, light you down, my pretty Polly,
Light you down I say to thee.
Six King's daughters have I drowned here
And the seventh will surely be thee.”

“But first take off your gown of silk,
Deliver it unto me,
For I think that it is too fine and too gay
To rot with you in the salt sea.”

“And pull off, pull off your fine gay clothes,
Hang them on yonder tree.
For they are too fine and they cost too much
For to rot in the salt lake sea.”

“Turn around, turn around, you false young man,
Turn your face to the tree,
For it isn't fit that a villain like you
A naked lady should see.”

“Then you get a sickle and you cut down the nettles
That grow so close to the brim.
For I fear to tangle me long yellow hair
And they'll tear me lily-white skin.”

So as he turned himself around,
Turning his face to the tree,
She's grabbed him by the middle so small
And flung him into the sea.

So he's got a sickle and he's cut down the nettles
That grow so close to the brim.
And she's picked him up so skilfully
And she's pushed the false knight in.

“Lie there, lie there you false young man,
Lie there instead of me,
For if six pretty maidens you have drownded here
Then the seventh one has drowned thee.”

“Lie there, lie there me false young man,
Lie there in the room of me.
For six King's daughters have you drowned there
And the seventh's drowned thee.”

So she mounted on the lily-white horse,
Leading the dapple grey,
And she rode till she come to her father's own door,
An hour before it was day.

So she's lit upon her nimble going brown,
And she's led the dappled grey.
When she's come to her father's door
It was just three hours till day.

Now the parrot being up in the window so high,
And hearing his mistress, did say,
“I'm afraid some ruffian had led you astray,
You tarried so long away.”

“Don't prittle, don't prattle my pretty Polly,
Nor tell no tales of me,
And your cage shall be of the glittering gold
And your perch of the best ivory.”

“Hush up, hush up me pretty Polly bird,
Don't you tell tales of me.
Your cage will be made of the very beaten gold
And the door of the best ivory.”

Now her father being up in his bedroom so high,
And hearing the parrot, did say,
“What's the matter with you, my pretty Polly,
You're prattling so long before day?”

But then up and spoke a fine young man
In the chamber where he lay,
“What's the matter, what's the matter with my pretty Polly bird,
You talking so long afore day?”

“There come an old cat on the top of my cage,
To take my sweet life away,
And I was just calling for my young mistress
To chase that old puss away.”

“Oh there's two black cats at me cage and door,
My life they will betray.
And I'm just a-calling for me pretty Polly
For to drive the cats away.”

And he's followed her up, he's followed her down,
And it's into the room where she lay.
She hadn't the strength for to flee from his arms
So they tumbled - to answer him nay.

Frankie Armstrong sings The Outlandish Knight Rosie Hood sings The Outlandish Knight

An outlandish knight from the north lands came
And he came a-wooing me.
He promised he'd take me unto the northern lands
And there he'd marry me.

An outlandish knight from the north lands came
He came a-wooing of me.
He told he'd take me to some north lands
And there he would marry me.

“Come fetch me some of your father's gold
And some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best horses in the stable
Where there stand thirty and three.”

“Go fetch me some of your father's gold
Some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best of your father's horse
Where there stand thirty and three.”

I fetched him some of my father's gold
Some of my mother's fee,
And two of the best of my father's horse
Where there stood thirty and three.

He mounted on the milk white steed
And she on the dappled grey,
And they rode till they came to the salt water side
An hour before the day.

I mounted on my milk white steed,
He rode the dappled grey,
We rode till they came to the water side
Six hours before it was day.

“Light off, light off your steed,” he said,
“And deliver it unto me.
For six pretty maidens I have drowned here
And you the seventh shall be.

“Light off, light off thy milk-white steed
And deliver it unto me.
For six pretty maidens I've drowned here
And the seventh one you shall be.

“Pull off, pull off thy silken gown,
And deliver it unto me;
For it is not fitting that such gay clothing
Should rot in the salt, salt sea.

“Pull off, pull off thy silken stays,
And deliver them unto me;
For it is not fitting that such gay clothing
Should rot in the salt, salt sea.

“Take off, take off your Holland smock
And deliver it unto me.
For it is too fine and too rich a gear
To rot with you under the sea.”

“Pull off, pull off thy Holland smock
And deliver it unto me.
For it is not fitting that such gay clothing
Should rot in the salt, salt sea.”

“If I must take off my Holland smock
Then o turn your face from me.
For it is not fitting that such a ruffian
A naked lady should see.”

“If I'm to take off my Holland smock
Pray turn your back towards me.
For it is not fitting that any young man
A naked lady should see.”

So he's turned his face away from her,
To view the leaves so green.
And she's catched him by the middle so small
And she's tumbled him into the stream.

He turned his back upon me there,
To view the leaves so green.
I caught him around the middle so small
And tumbled him into the stream.

Well he swam high and he swam low
Till he's come unto the side.
“Fetch hold of my hand, you pretty fair maid,
And I will make you my bride.”

He floated high and he floated low
Till he came unto the side.
“Catch hold of my hand, my pretty fair maid,
And I will make thee my bride.”

“Lie there, lie there you false hearted man,
Lie there instead of me.
For if six pretty maidens you have drowned here
The seventh one hath drowned thee.”

“Lie there, lie there you false hearted man,
Lie there instead of me.
For if six pretty maidens you've drowned here
But the seventh one hath drowned thee.”

She's mounted on the milk white steed
And she's led the dappled grey,
And she's rode till she came to her own father's hall
An hour before the day.

I mounted on my milk white steed
And led the dappled grey,
And I rode till I came to my father's house
Three hours before it was day.

The parrot being up in the window so high
And hearing the lady did say,
“I'm afraid some ruffian has led you astray
That you've tarried so long away.”

The parrot was perched high up in his cage,
And hearing me enter did say,
“What ails thee, what ails thee, my pretty fair maid?
You're stirring so long before day.”

“Don't prittle, don't prattle, my pretty Polly,
Nor tell any tales of me,
And your cage shall be made of the finest beaten gold
And the doors of the best ivory.”

“Don't prittle nor prattle, my pretty parrot,
Nor tell no tales of me,
And thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold
And the door of the best ivory.”

The king being sat in the window so high,
And hearing the parrot did say,
“What makes you cry out, my pretty Polly,
So long before the day?”

My father being up in his chamber so high,
And hearing the parrot did say,
“What ails thee, what ails thee, my pretty poll parrot,
Thou’rt talking so long before day!”

“It's no laughing matter,” the parrot he said,
“That makes me cry out to thee.
For the cat he climbed in the window so high
And I feared he would harm me.”

“O master, O master,” replied the old parrot,
“It’s no laughing matter!” cried he,
“For the cat has just been and caught a poor mouse,
And I’m afraid he will soon have me.”

“Well done, well done, my pretty Polly,
You have tuned your notes well to me.
Now your cage shall be made of the finest beaten gold
And the doors of the best ivory, ivory,
And the doors of the best ivory.”

“Well turned, well turned, my pretty poll parrot,
Well turned, well turned for me!
Now thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold
And the door of the best ivory.”

Cyril Tawney sings The Outlandish Knight

There was a rich nobleman I've heard tell
And he came a courting of me,
And he said, “We will ride, and ere we return
Then married we will be.”

She went into her father's stable
She was gay as gay might be,
And she mounted upon her milk-white steed,
And the dapple grey rode he.

“Jump off! Jump off! I pray,” he said,
“And deliver your horse to me.
Six pretty maids have I drowned here,
And the seventh thou shalt be.

“Pull off, pull off, thy silken smock
And thy silken gown,” said he.
“Six pretty maids have I stripped here,
And the seventh thou shalt be.”

“Take up thy sickle and cut the nettle,
That grows on the water brim,
For fear it should stick in my gay gold locks
And should sting my milk-white skin.”

He took the sickle and cut the nettle
That grew on the water brim,
And she gave him a most cunning push,
And she speedily pushed him in.

“O help! O help! my fair pretty maid,
And today I will marry thee.”
“Lie there, lie there, thou false hearted knave,
Lie there and drown, said she.

“Lie there, lie there! thou false hearted knave,
Lie there and drown, said she
Six pretty maids hast thou drowned here,
And the seventh drowneth thee.”

Every leaf was oppress'd and she heard no sound,
Nor to lark nor thrush gave heed.
Nor the throstle did call in the whole of the tree
As she mounted her milk white steed.

And she mounted her on her milk-white steed
And she led the dapple grey,
And she rode till she came to her father's hall
Just at the break of day.

“O where have you been, my fair pretty queen?”
The parrot he did say,
“That you have been out all in the night
And return before the day.”

“O hush! and O hush! my pretty parrot,
O say not a word,” said she,
“Thy cage it shall be of the beaten gold,
That was of the timbern tree.”

Then up and spake her father dear,
From the bed where on he lay,
“O what is the matter with my parrot
That he chatters before the day.”

“The cat came to my own cage-door
And threatenèd to kill me.
And I called aloud for help to come,
To come and deliver me.”

“Well turn'd, well turn'd my pretty parrot
Well turn'd, well turn'd said she.
Thy cage shall be made of shining gold,
That was of the timbern tree.”

Steeleye Span sing The Elf-Knight

The elf-knight sits on yonder hill,
    Fine flowers in the valley.
He blows his horn both loud and shrill,
    As the rose is blown.

He blows it east, he blows it west,
    Fine flowers in the valley.
He blows it where he liketh best,
    As the rose is blown.

Lady Isabel sits a-sewing
When she heard the elf-knight's horn a-blowing.

“Would I had that horn a-blowing
And yon elf-knight for to sleep in my bosom.”

Scarcely had she these words spoken
When in at the window the elf-knight's broken.

“It's a very strange matter, fair maid,” said he,
“I cannot blow my horn, but you call on me.”

“But will you go to the greenwood side?
If you will not go, I'll cause you to ride.”

He leapt on his horse and she on another
And they rode on to the greenwood together.

“Light down, light down, Isabel,” said he,
“For we're come to the place where you are to die.”

“It's seven kings daughters here have I slain
And you shall be the eighth of them.”

“Sit down a-while, lay your head on my knee
That we may rest before I die.”

She stroked him so fast the nearer he did creep,
And with a small charm she's lulled him to sleep.

With his own sword-belt, so fast she's bound him,
With his own dagger so sore she's stabbed him.

“If seven kings daughters here have you slain,
Then lie you here, a husband to them all.”

Tim Eriksen sing Castle by the Sea

“Arise, arise, my lady fair,
For you my bride shall be.
And we will dwell in my sylvan bower
In a castle by the sea.

“Come bring along your marriage fee
That you can claim today,
And also bring your swiftest steed,
The milk white and the grey.”

The lady mounted her white steed,
He rode the turban grey,
They took the path by the wild sea shore
Or so I've heard them say.

But when they got to the castle high
It looked so black and cold,
She wished she'd stayed in Boston town
With her ten thousand pounds of gold.

“Lie down, lie down my pretty fair maid,
My bride you'll never be!
For it's six fair maidens I've drowned here
And the seventh you shall be.

“Take off, take off that scarlet robe
And lay it down by me,
For it is too rich and costly
To rot in the briny sea.”

“Oh then turn your face to the wild seashore
And your back to yonder's tree
For it is a disgrace for any man
An unclothed woman to see.”

So he turned his face to the wild seashore
And his back to yonder's tree.
This lady took him in her arms
And flung him into the sea.

“Lie there, lie there you false young man
And drown in the place of me!
If it's six fair maidens you've drowned here,
Go keep them company.”

She mounted on her milk white steed
And led the turban grey.
She rode till she came to Boston town,
Two hours before it was day.

Acknowledgements and Links

Transcription from Martin Carthy's singing by Garry Gillard and from Cyril Tawney's and Norma Waterson's singing by Roberto Campo with help from the Mudcat Café.