A Bundle of Ballads


This winter's weather it waxeth cold,And frost doth freeze on every hill,And Boreas blows his blasts so bold,That all our cattle are like to spill;

Bell my wife,who loves no strife,She said unto me quietly,"Rise up,and save cow Crumbock's life;

Man,put thine old cloak about thee."


"O Bell,why dost thou flyte and scorn?

Thou ken'st my cloak is very thin:

It is so bare and overworn A crick he thereon cannot renn:

Then I'll no longer borrow nor lend,For once I'll new apparelled be,To-morrow I'll to town and spend,For I'll have a new cloak about me."


"Cow Crumbock is a very good cow,She ha'been always true to the pail,She's helped us to butter and cheese,I trow,And other things she will not fail:

I wad be loth to see her pine,Good husband,counsel take of me,It is not for us to go so fine;

Man,take thine old cloak about thee."


"My cloak it was a very good cloak,It hath been always true to the wear,But now it is not worth a groat;

I have had it four and forty year:

Sometime it was of cloth in grain,'Tis now but a sigh-clout,as you may see,It will neither hold out wind nor rain;

And I'll have a new cloak about me."


"It is four and forty years ago Since the one of us the other did ken,And we have had betwixt us two Of children either nine or ten;

We have brought them up to women and men;

In the fear of God I trow they be;

And why wilt thou thyself misken?

Man,take thine old cloak about thee."


"O Bell my wife,why dost thou flout?

Now is now,and then was then:

Seek now all the world throughout,Thou ken'st not clowns from gentlemen.

They are clad in black,green,yellow,or gray,So far above their own degree:

Once in my life I'll do as they,For I'll have a new cloak about me."


"King Stephen was a worthy peer,His breeches cost him but a crown,He held them sixpence all too dear;

Therefore he called the tailor lown.

He was a wight of high renown,And thou's but of a low degree:

It's pride that puts this country down;

Man,take thine old cloak about thee."


Bell my wife she loves not strife,Yet she will lead me if she can;

And oft,to live a quiet life,I am forced to yield,though I'm good-man;

It's not for a man with a woman to threap,Unless he first gave o'er the plea:

As we began we now will leave,And I'll take mine old cloak about me.

Henry Morley