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An Outlandish Knight came from the Northlands
And he came a-wooing to me;
He told me he'd take me unto the Northlands
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 nags out of the stable,
Where there stood thirty and three.

She fetched him some of her father's gold
And some of her mother's fee;
And two of the best nags out of the stable,
Where there stood thirty and three.

She mounted on her milkwhite steed,
He rode on the dapple grey,
They rode until they came unto the sea-side,
Three hours before it was day.

Light off, light off thy milkwhite steed,
And deliver it unto me,
Six pretty maids have I drown-ed here,
And thou the seventh shall be.

He turned his back towards her,
And viewed the leaves so green:
She catched him round the middle so smaill,
And tumbled him into the stream.

He dropp-ed high, he dropp-ed low,
Until he came to the side:
"Catch hold of my hand, my pretty maiden,
And I will make you my bride."

"Lie there, lie there, you falsehearted man,
Lie there instead of me;
Six pretty maids have you drown-ed here,
And the seventh has drown-ed thee."

She mounted on her milkwhite steed,
And led the dapple grey;
She rode till she came to her own father's hall
Three hours before it was day.

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Source: North Countrie Folk Songs for Schools, Ed Whittaker, Pub Curwen, 1921

This seems to be a cut-down version of Child 4E. The Outlandish Knight is known as "Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight" in Child, and he has over 38 pages of discussion of the ballad in the Loomis House Version. I do not intend to type it all in!

Taken from Northumbrian Minstrelsy. Some verses have been omitted which the children would have found amusing. I had better specify.

Between verses 5 and 6 above:

Pull off, pull off thy silken gown,
And deliver it unto me,
Methinks it looks too rich and too gay,
To rot in the salt sea.

Pull off, pull off, thy silken stays,
And deliver them unto me,
Methinks they are too fine and gay,
To rot in the salt sea.

Pull off, pull off, thy Holland smock,
And deliver it unto me,
Methinks it looks too rich and too gay,
To rot in the salt sea.

"If I must pull off my Holland smock,
Pray turn thy back to me,
For it is not fitting that such a ruffian,
A naked woman should see."

After the final verse above:

The parrot being in the window so high,
Hearing the lady, did say;
"I'm afraid that some ruffian has led you astray,
That you've tarried so long away."

"Don't prittle or prattle, my pretty parrot,
Nor tell no tales of me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
Although it is made of a tree."

The king being in the chamber so high,
And hearing the parrot, did say:
"What ails you, what ails you, my pretty parrot,
That you prattle so long before day."

"It's no laughing matter," the parrot did say,
"But so loudly I call unto thee,
For the cats have got into the window so high,
And I'm afraid they will have me."

"Well turned, well turned, my pretty parrot,
Well turned, well turned for me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
And the door of the best ivory."

The tune was noted "from the singing of Mrs. Andrews of Newcastle-on-Tyne". Whittaker has shortened the length of the final note (presumably to provide a breathing-space) by 1/8 note.

Whether or not the text also came from Mrs. Andrews is not stated, but it was most likely quoted from J.H. Dixon's Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, which is Child's E text, and very close to the numerous and widely published stall copies. Various broadside examples can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, as The Outlandish Knight and -in one case- The Old Beau's Courtship. (The Outlandish Dream is not related.)

There are several examples found in tradition in America, under various titles, at The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection.

An enormously popular song-group, found in tradition throughout the English-speaking world; and, in other forms, throughout Western Europe. A useful study of its development and spread is Holger Nygard's The Ballad of Heer Halewijn: Its Forms and Variations in Western Europe (Folklore Fellows Communications No.169, 1958). Generally (and vastly to over-simplify his thesis), he considers the ballad to have originated in the Netherlands, from whence it spread into Germany and Scandinavia, and into France; the British forms being derived from the French, with English forms being older than Scottish.

Child's A text came from Peter Buchan, whose reputation as a forger (or dupe of forgers) of ballad-texts is well-known. Nygard devotes a chapter to discrediting him further, but more recently, David Buchan (The Ballad and the Folk, 1972) has gone a fair way toward restoring the man's credibility, and that of his text of Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight (from which Child named the song-group, though it is the only known instance of the heroine's being called Isabel).

In Folk Song in England (1967) A. L. Lloyd refers to Lajos Vargyas' Researches into the Medieval History of the Folk Ballad (Budapest, 1967), in which Vargyas uses iconography, amongst other things, to trace this ballad back to a putative Central Asian origin. Although a good pinch of salt (about a hundredweight, perhaps) should probably be taken, it's hard to resist Lloyd's comment:

"If Vargyas is right, at least some vital motifs of our common European ballad derive from imaginings vastly remote from us in time and space, from the anxious dreams of prehistoric herdsmen on the wild steppes between the Tienshan and the Altai mountains of western Mongolia."

Roud: 21 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 4

Related Songs:  Renaud le Tueur de Femmes (thematic) Shaker Solemn Song 2(A) (melodic)

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