Translation by Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore (1729 - 1811)

Balow, my babe, ly stil and sleipe!
Language: English  after the English 
Balow, my babe, ly stil and sleipe!
It grieves me sair to see thee weipe;
If thoust be silent, Ise be glad,
Thy maining maks my heart ful sad.
Balow, my boy, thy mither's joy!
Thy father breides me great annoy.
Balow, my 'babe, ly stil and sleipe!
It grieves me sair to see thee weipe.

When he began to court my luve,
And with his sugred words to muve,
His faynings fals and flattering cheire
To me that time did not appeire:
But now I see, most cruell hee,
Cares neither for my babe nor mee.
Balow, etc.

Ly stil, my darlinge, sleipe awhile,
And when thou wakest sweitly smile:
But smile not, as thy father did,
To cozen maids; nay, God forbid!
But yette I feire, thou wilt gae neire,
Thy fatheris hart and face to beire.
Balow, etc.

I cannae chuse, but ever will
Be luving to thy father stil:
Whaireir he gae, whaireir he ryde,
My luve with him maun stil abyde:
In weil or wae, whaireir he gae,
Mine hart can neir depart him frae.
Balow, etc.

But doe not, doe not, prettie mine,
To faynings fals thine hart incline;
Be loyal to thy luver trew,
And nevir change hir for a new;
If gude or faire, of hir have care,
For womens banning's wonderous sair.
Balow, etc.

Bairne, sin thy cruel father is gane,
Thy winsome smiles maun eise my paine;
My babe and I 'll together live,
He'll comfort me when cares doe grieve;
My babe and I right saft will ly,
And quite forgeit man's cruelty.
Balow, etc.

Fareweil, fareweil, thou falsest youth
That ever kist a woman's mouth!
I wish all maids be warned by mee,
Nevir to trust man's curtesy;
For if we doe but chance to bow,
They'll use us then they care not how.
Balow, my 'babe, ly stil and sleipe!
It grieves me sair to see thee weipe.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Bishop Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, sixth Edition, vol. III, London: Samuel Richards & Co., 1823. Appears in Series II, Book the Second, pages 22 - 24.

This poem inspired Arnaud Berquin's French poem Plaintes d'une femme abandonnée par son amant, auprès du berceau de son fils.


Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Set in a modified version by John Linton Gardner.

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Melanie Trumbull

This text was added to the website: 2005-11-11
Line count: 51
Word count: 321