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Romantic Ballads

Young Beichan

In order to preserve the historical integrity of the ballads in this section they are presented in their original dialects, which span a broad range. These ballads have been passed down through the centuries from many different regions of Great Britain before appearing in print. A synopsis of each ballad, in modern American English, is provided to aid in ease of comprehension of the dialects.

Read a synopsis of Young Beichan in modern American English.

In London city was Bicham born,
He longd strange countries for to see,
But he was taen by a savage Moor,
Who handld him right cruely.

For thro his shoulder he put a bore,
An thro the bore has pitten a tree,
An he's gard him draw the carts o wine,
Where horse and oxen had wont to be.

He's casten him in a dungeon deep,
Where he could neither hear nor see;
He's shut him up in a prison strong,
An he's handld him right cruely.

O this Moor he had but ae daughter,
I wot her name was Shusy Pye;
She's doen her to the prison-house,
And she's calld Young Bicham one word by.

'O hae ye ony lands or rents,
Or citys in your ain country,
Coud free you out of prison strong,
An coud maintain a lady free?"

"O London city is my own,
An other citys twa or three,
Coud loose me out o prison strong
An coud maintain a lady free.

O she has bribed her father's men
Wi meikle goud and white money,
She's gotten the key o the prison doors,
An she has set Young Bicham free.

She gi'n him a loaf o good white bread,
But an a flask o Spanish wine,
An she bad him mind on the ladie's love
That sae kindly freed him out o pine.

"Go set your foot on good ship-board,
An haste you back to your ain country,
An before that seven years has an end
Come back again, love, and marry me."

It was long or seven years had an end
She longd fu sair her love to see;
She's set her foot on good ship-board,
An turnd her back on her ain country.

She's saild up, so has she doun,
Till she came to the other side;
She's landed at Young Bicham's gates,
An I hop this day she sal be his bride.

"Is this Young Bicham's gates?" says she,
"Or is that noble prince within?"
"He's up the stairs wi his bonny bride,
An monny a lord and lady wi him."

"O has he taen a bonny bride,
An has he forgotten me!"
An sighing said that gay lady,
I wish I were in my ain country!

But she's pitten her han in her pocket,
An gin the porter guineas three;
Says, "Take ye that, ye proud porter,
An bid the bridegroom speak to me."

O whan the porter came up the stair,
He's fa'n low down upon his knee;
"Won up, won up, ye proud porter,
An what makes a' this courtesy?"

"O I've been porter at your gates
This mair nor seven years and three,
But there is a lady at them now
The like of whom I never did see.

"For on every finger she has a ring,
An on the mid-finger she has three,
An there's as meikle goud aboon her brow
As woud buy an earldome o lan to me."

Then up it started Young Bicham,
An sware so loud by Our Lady,
"It can be nane but Shusy Pye,
That has come oer the sea to me."

O quickly ran he down the stair,
O fifteen steps he has made but three;
He's tane his bonny love in his arms,
An a wot he kissed her tenderly.

"O hae you tane a bonny bride?
An hae you quite forsaken me?
An hae ye quite forgotten her
That gae you life and liberty?

She's lookit oer her left shoulder
To hide the tears stood in her ee;
"Now fare thee well, Young Bicham," she says
"I'll strive to think nae mair on thee."

"Take back your daughter, madam" he says,
"An a double dowry I'll gi her wi;
For I maun marry my first true love,
That's done and suffered so much for me."

He's take his bonny love by the han,
And led her to yon fountain stane;
He's changd her name frae Shusy Pye,
And he's cald her his bonny love, Lady Jane.

The ballad Young Beichan appears in Volume I of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited by Francis James Child. These volumes are in the public domain.