Yonder comes a courteous knight (The Baffled knight ballad)

Baffled knight

BAFFLED KNIGHT –Leggi in italiano
TITLES: The Baffled Lover (knight),  Yonder comes a courteous knight, The Lady’s Policy, The Disappointed Lover, The (Bonny), Blow away the morning dew, Blow Ye Winds High-O, Clear Away the Morning Dew

Child #112 A (Tudor Ballad): yonder comes a courteous knight
Child #112 B
Child #112 D ( Cecil Sharp)
Child #112 D (Shepherd Lad)
Blow Away The Morning Dew (sea shanty)

Yonder comes a courteous knight
John Byam Liston Shaw: “The Baffled Knight”

A young knight who will be duped (hence the title The Baffled knight) is out and about in the countryside.
He meets a girl (sometimes he surprises her while she is intent on bathing in a river) and asks her, a bit clumsily, to have sex.

In truth, the approaches in secluded places between noblemen and curvy country girls (or shepherdesses) even if paludated with bucolic verses, ended much more prosaically with rape. (If the gentleman “stung vagueness”)

Incidentally, in The Baffked knight the girl is a lady, and the dialogue between the two protagonists becomes rather a gallant skirmish of love, a game of love to make it more tantalizing.

However, the knight does not yet know the rules, probably due to his young age or because he is clumsy.
Therefore he is teased by the lady, a courtesan (in the sense of a noble maid) much more experienced and cynical, skilled maneuverer than her lovers!


Child ballad #112
The gallant knight is called “Baffled knight” as usual term in the Scottish dialect of 1540-1550: “bauchle”, here in the meaning of “bewildered”, “perplexed” but also “juggled”. Originally the ballad is transcribed in Deuteromelia (1609) by Thomas Ravenscroft with a melody that he attributes to the reign of Henry VIII.


Yonder comes a courteous knight is an exhortation to draw pleasure when the opportunity arises: the lady (as an expert courtesan) puts the young knight to the test by presenting the comforts of a bed that awaits them in the paternal home. So she enters first at home and closes off the naive (and inexperienced) knight. The lady does not hide her disdain for the knight who did not dare to get some among the branches!

Music of Elizabethan England

Custer LaRue & Baltimore Consort from “Ladyes Delight: Entertainment Music of Elizabethan England”, 1998 ♪.
The Baltimore Consort give us a little musical jewel: the melody is performed in a cadenced manner and vaguely refers to the Dargason jig, as also reported in the first edition of “The Dancing Master” by John Playford (1651).

Lucie Skeaping & City Waits from” Lusty Broadside Ballads & Palyford Dances” 2011.
Sparkling and playful interpretation that I imagine salaciously mimed in the most fashionable living rooms of the time. A couple of verses are omitted from the original version. (they skip II, IV and VII )

Joel Frederiksen & Ensemble Phoenix Munich from “The Elfin Knight: Balads and Dances”

Yonder comes a courteous knight,
Lustely raking ouer the lay (1);
He was well ware of a bonny lasse,
As she came wandring ouer the way.
Then she sang downe a downe,
hey downe derry (bis) (2)
‘Ioue (3) you speed, fayre lady,’ he said,
‘Among the leaues that be so greene;
If I were a king, and wore a crowne,
Full soone, fair lady,
shouldst thou be a queen.
‘Also Ioue saue you, faire lady (4),
Among the roses that be so red;
If I haue not my will of you,
Full soone, faire lady,
shall I be dead.’
Then he lookt east,
then hee lookt west,
Hee lookt north, so did he south;
He could not finde a priuy place (5),
For all lay in the diuel’s mouth.
‘If you will carry me, gentle sir,
A mayde (6) vnto my father’s hall,
Then you shall haue your will of me,
Vnder purple and vnder paule (7).’
He set her vp vpon a steed,
And him selfe vpon another,
And all the day he rode her by,
As though they had been sister and brother.
When she came to her father’s hall,
It was well walled round about;
She yode (8) in at the wicket-gate,
And shut the foure-eard (9) foole without.
‘You had me,’ quoth she, ‘abroad in the field,
Among the corne, amidst the hay,
Where you might had your will of mee,
For, in good faith, sir, I neuer said nay.
‘Ye had me also amid the field (10)
Among the rushes that were so browne,
Where you might had your will of me,
But you had not the face to lay me downe.’ (11)
He pulled out
his nut-browne (12) sword,
And wipt the rust off with his sleeue,
And said, “Ioue’s curse
come to his heart
That any woman would beleeue (13)!
When you haue you owne true-loue
A mile or twaine out of the towne,
Spare not for her gay clothing,
But lay her body flat on the ground.
1) ‘lay’ = lea, meadow-land
2) interlayer onomatopoeic and apparently non-sense of some ballads; also in the ballad The Three Ravens always reported by Ravenscoft this time in his Melismata.
3) Ioue = Jove; Jove you speed it is a kind of invocation of the type “Jupiter you assist”, but also a way of greeting. Jupiter is also the god famous for his love adventures and lust: in short, he did not miss one.
4) Lucie Skeaping sing ‘Ioue you speed, fayre lady,’ he said,
5) Prive place=(Middle English) genitals. The whole verse means something else and certainly had to make the audience laugh at the time: the inexperienced lover does not know where to find the hole and searches and feels in the lower parts
6) maid
7) purple and paule =  pomp and circumstance
8) ‘yode’ = went.
9) ‘foure-ear’d’ : foure=(Middle English) Of animals: having four feet, quadruped; ‘as denoting a double ass?’ (Child)
10) Lucie Skeaping sings’You had me, abroad in the field,
11) once safe, the lady mocks the inexperienced knight!
12)  the image is burlesque: the young man with a rusty sword because he never got to use it (swordsman inexperienced or clumsy as in the love duels) raises it to the sky pointing to Jupiter to attract lightning!
13) believe


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Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

Amministratore e folklorista di Terre Celtiche Blog. Ha iniziato a divulgare i suoi studi e ricerche sulla musica, le danze e le tradizioni d'Europa nel web, dapprima in maniera sporadica e poi sempre più sistematicamente sul finire del anni 90

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