Poems

King Estmere

Hearken to me, gentlemen,
Come and you shall heare;
He tell you of two of the boldest brethren,
That ever born y-were.

The tone of them as Adler yonge,
The tother was Kyng Estmere;
The were as bolde men in their deedes,
As any were, farr and neare.

As they were drinking ale and wine
Within Kyng Estmeres halle:
'When will ye marry a wyfe, brother,
A wyfe to gladd us all?'

Then bespake him Kyng Estmere,
And answered him hatilee
'I know not that ladye in any lande,
That is able to marry with mee.'

'Kyng Adland hath a daughter, brother,
Men call her bright and sheene;
If I were kyng here in your stead,
That ladye shold be queene.'

Sayes, 'Reade me, reade me, deare brother,
Throughout merry England,
Where we might find a messenger
Betweene us two to sende.'

Sayes, 'You shall ryde yourselfe, brother,
He beare you companee;
Many throughe fals messengers are deceived,
And I feare lest soe shold wee.'

Thus the renisht them to ryde
Of twoe good renisht steedes,
And when they came to Kyng Adlands halle,
Of red golde shone their weedes.

And when the came to Kyng Adlands halle
Before the goodlye yate,
Ther they found good Kyng Adland
Rearing himselfe theratt.

'Nowe Christ thee save, good Kyng Adland,
Nowe Christ thee save and see.'
Sayd, 'You be welcome, Kyng Estmere,
Right hartilye to mee.'

'You have a daughter,' sayd Adler yonge,
'Men call her bright and sheene;
My brother wold marrye her to his wiffe,
Of Englande to be queene.'

'Yesterdaye was att my dere daughter
Syr Bremor the Kyng of Spayne;
And then she nicked him of naye;
I feare sheele do youe the same.'

'The Kyng of Spayne is a foule paynim,
And leevith on Mahound;
And pitye it were that fayre ladye
Shold marrye a heathen hound.'

'But grant to me,' sayes Kyng Estmere,
'For my love I you praye,
That I may see your daughter dere
Before I goe hence awaye.'

'Althoughe itt is seven yeare and more
Syth my daughter was in halle,
She shall come downe once for your sake,
To glad my guestes alle.'

Downe then came that mayden fayre,
With ladyes lacede in pall,
And halfe a hondred of bolde knightes,
To bring her from bowre to hall,
And eke as manye gentle squieres,
To waite upon them all.

The talents of golde were on her head sette,
Hunge low downe to her knee;
And everye rynge on her small finger
Shone of the chrystall free.

Sayes, 'Christ you save, my deare Madame;'
Sayes, 'Christ you save and see;'
Sayes, 'You be welcome, Kyng Estmere,
Right welcome unto mee.

'And iff you love me, as you saye,
So well and hartilee,
All that ever you are comen about
Soone sped now itt may bee.'

Then bespake her father deare:
'My daughter, I saye naye;
Remember well the Kyng of Spayne,
What he sayd yesterdaye.

'He wold pull downe my halles and castles,
And reave me of my lyfe:
And ever I feare that paynim kyng,
Iff I reave him of his wyfe.'

'Your castles and your towres, father,
Are stronglye built aboute;
And therefore of that foule paynim
Wee neede not stande in doubte.

'Plyght me your troth nowe, Kyng Estmere,
By heaven and your right hande,
That you will marrye me to your wyfe,
And make me queene of your land.'

Then Kyng Estmere he plight his troth
By heaven and his righte hand,
That he wolde marrye her to his wyfe,
And make her queene of his land.

And he tooke leave of that ladye fayre,
To goe to his owne countree,
To fetche him dukes and lordes and knightes,
That marryed the might bee.

They had not ridden scant a myle,
A myle forthe of the towne,
But in did come the Kynge of Spayne,
With kempes many a one:

But in did come the Kyng of Spayne,
With manye a grimme barone,
Tone day to marrye Kyng Adlands daughter,
Tother daye to carrye her home.

Then shee sent after Kyng Estmere,
In all the spede might bee,
That he must either returne and fighte,
Or goe home and lose his ladye.

One whyle then the page he went,
Another whyle he ranne;
Till he had oretaken Kyng Estmere,
I wis, he never blame.

'Tydinges, tydinges, Kyng Estmere!'
'What tydinges nowe, my boye?'
'O tydinges I can tell you,
That will you sore annoye.

'You had not ridden scant a myle,
A myle out of the towne,
But in did come the Kyng of Spayne
With kempes many a one:

'But in did come the Kyng of Spayne
With manye a grimme barone,
Tone day to marrye Kyng Adlands daughter,
Tother daye to carrye her home.

'That ladye fayre she greetes you well,
And ever-more well by mee:
You must either turne againe and fighte,
Or goe home and lose your ladye.'

Sayes, 'Reade me, reade me, deare brother,
My reade shall ryde at thee,
Whiche way we best may turne and fighte,
To save this fayre ladye.'

'Now hearken to me,' sayes Adler yonge,
'And your reade must rise at me:
I quicklye will devise a waye
To sette thy ladye free.

'My mother was a westerne woman,
And learned in gramarye,
And when I learned at the schole,
Something shee taught itt me.

'There groweth an hearbe within this fielde,
And iff it were but knowne,
His color which is whyte and redd,
It will make blacke and browne:

'His color which is browe and blacke,
Itt will make redd and whyte;
That sword is not in all Englande,
Upon his coate will byte.

'And you shal be a harper, brother,
Out of the north countree;
And Ile be your boye, so faine of fighte,
To beare your harpe by your knee.

'And you shall be the best harper,
That ever tooke harpe in hande;
And I will be the best singer,
That ever sung in this land.

'Itt shal be written in your forheads,
All and in grammarye,
That we towe are the boldest men
That are in all Christentye.'

And thus they renisht them to ryde,
On towe good renish steedes;
And whan the came to Kyng Adlands hall,
Of redd gold shone their weedes.

And whan the came to Kyng Adlands hall,
Untill the fayre hall yate,
There they found a proud porter,
Rearing himselfe thereatt.

Sayes, 'Christ thee save, thou proud porter;'
Sayes, 'Christ thee save and see.'
'Nowe you be welcome,' sayd the porter,
'Of what land soever ye bee.'

'We been harpers,' sayd Alder yonge,
'Come out of the northe countree;
We been come hither untill this place,
This proud weddinge for to see.'

Sayd, 'And your color were white and redd,
As it is blacke and browne.
Ild saye Kyng Estmere and his brother
Were comen untill this towne.'

Then they pulled out a ryng of gold,
Layd itt on the porters arme:
'And ever we will thee, proud porter,
Thow wilt saye us no harme.'

Sore he looked on Kyng Estmere,
And sore he handled the ryng,
Then opened to them the fayre hall yates,
He lett for no kind of thyng.

Kyng Estmere he light off his steede,
Up att the fayre hall board;
The frothe that came from his brydle bitte
Light on Kyng Bremors beard.

Sayes, 'Stable thy steede, thou proud harper,
Go stable him in the stalle;
Itt doth not beseeme a proud harper
To stable him in a kyngs halle.'

'My ladd he is so lither,' he sayd,
'He will do nought that's meete;
And aye that I cold but find the man,
Were able him to beate.'

'Thou speakst proud words,' sayd the paynim kyng,
'Thou harper here to mee:
There is a man within this halle,
That will beate thy lad and thee.'

'O lett that man come downe,' he sayd,
'A sight of him wold I see;
And whan hee hath beaten well my ladd,
Then he shall beate of mee.'

Downe they came the kemperye man,
And looked him in the eare;
For all the gold, that was under heaven,
He durst not neigh him neare.

'And how nowe, kempe,' sayd the Kyng of Spayne,
'And how that aileth thee?'
He sayes, 'Itt is written in his forhead
All and in gramarye,
That for all the gold that is under heaven,
I dare not neigh him nye.'

Kying Estmere then pulled forth his harpe,
And played thereon so sweete:
Upstarte the ladye from the kynge,
As hee sate at the meate.

'Now stay thy harpe, thou proud harper,
Now stay thy harpe, I



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