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The Elf-Knight (Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight)

  • (Bob Johnson / Trad - Child #4)

    The elf-knight sits on yonder hill
    Fine flowers in the valley
    He blows his horn both loud and shrill
    As the rose is blown

    He blows it East, he blows it West
    Fine flowers in the valley
    He blows it where he liketh best
    As the rose is blown

    Lady Isabel sits a-sewing
    Fine flowers in the valley
    When she heard the elf-knight's horn a-blowing
    As the rose is blown

    Would I had that horn a-blowing
    Fine flowers in the valley
    And yon elf-knight for to sleep in my bosom
    As the rose is blown

    Scarcely had she these words spoken
    Fine flowers in the valley
    When in at the window the elf-knight's broken
    As the rose is blown

    It's a very strange matter, fair maid, said he
    Fine flowers in the valley
    I cannot blow my horn, but you call on me
    As the rose is blown

    But will you go to the greenwood side
    Fine flowers in the valley
    If you will not go, I'll cause you to ride
    As the rose is blown

    He leapt on his horse and she on another
    Fine flowers in the valley
    And they rode on to the greenwood together
    As the rose is blown

    Light down, light down, Isabel, said he
    Fine flowers in the valley
    For we're come to the place where you are to die
    As the rose is blown

    It's seven kings daughters, here have I slain
    Fine flowers in the valley
    And you shall be the eighth of them
    As the rose is blown

    Sit down a-while, lay your head on my knee
    Fine flowers in the valley
    That we may rest before I die
    As the rose is blown

    She stroked him so fast the nearer he did creep
    Fine flowers in the valley
    And with a small charm, she's lulled him to sleep
    As the rose is blown

    With his own sword-belt so fast she's bound him
    Fine flowers in the valley
    With his own dagger so sore she's stabbed him
    As the rose is blown

    If seven kings daughters here have you slain
    Fine flowers in the valley
    Then lie you here, a husband to them all
    As the rose is blown

    As sung by Steeleye Span

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1959:] This ballad has many titles. Scholars know it as Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight or May Colvin, but An Outlandish Rover, The Highway Robber, The Old Beau, are among the titles preferred by folk singers. Child, who published it as No. 4 in his collection, noted it as one of the most widespread of ballads, with relatives in Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands (as Halewijn), and elsewhere, as far afield as Australia. It is also among the most persistent, being not infrequently sung today. Some scholars see in it traces of the Bluebeard story, others believe it may be an off-shoot of the legend of Judith and Holofernes. Perhaps more plausible is the theory that the ballad is descended from a folk-tale about a malevolent water-spirit who transforms himself into a knight and marries a girl with the intention of carrying her off to his watery home. [...] Within this century, besides our Norfolk set [EFS80], versions have been printed from Westmorland, Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Herts, Sussex, Wilts, and Somerset (Sharp reported that he had found twenty-three sets of it in that county), Devon, and Cornwall. [Also a] fragmentary version in Manx. (Penguin Book of English Folk Songs 120)

  • [1979:] [The False-hearted Knight] A man, or a demon in human guise, murders several women, but is eventually killed by a potential victim who is too clever for him. The theme can be simply stated, but it has held the popular imagination for centuries. Gradually, the original supernatural elements have been rationalized, apparently without reducing the story's appeal. Scores of versions of the ballad, which Professor Child called Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight, have been found, all over Europe. Several books have been written on the subject, including H. O. Nygard's 'The Ballad of Heer Halewijn' [...]. The earliest known English text is a street ballad of about 1710. (Palmer, Country 109)

  • [1996:] Words Trad. Tune written by Bob Johnson [...] A simple but vivid story, this ballad evokes many powerful images - a hazy afternoon in late June when the roses are full blown - Lady Isabel sitting alone in a castle room, with a shaft of sunlight playing on the tapestry that she is weaving - somewhere out there, beyond this world and the 'fields we know', the elf-knight sits, arrogant, dark and brooding. He blows his horn and enchants her - she breathes a wish for him - in an instant he has broken through the barrier - two worlds collide, reality and fantasy, good and evil ... (Notes Steeleye Span, 'Time')

  • See also
    Gabriele Haefs, 'Der Reisende und der Mörder (Zwei Typen im Volkslied)', Folk Michel 25, S. 31ff
    The Elf Knight
    Penguin: The Outlandish Knight
    question on Outlandish Knight

Quelle: England

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