I'VE BEEN A FOREIGN LANDER
I've been a foreign lander, full seven long years and more;
Among the bold commanders, where the thundering cannons roar.
I've conquered all my enemies, both all on land and sea;
It is my dearest duel, your beauty has conquered me.
If I should build a ship my love, without the wood of tree,
That ship would burst asunder if I prove false to thee.
If ever I prove false my love, the elements will turn,
The fire will freeze to ice, my love, the sea will rage and burn.
Don't you remember Queen Ellen, all in her flowery reign,
As she walked out of her paradise, to cleanse the golden chain?
Her beauty and behavior, none with her could compare,
But you, my dearest darling, are more divinely fair.
I wish I was a turtledove, just fluttering from my nest;
I'd sing so clear in the morning, with the dew all on my breast;
So sweetly would be the music, so doleful and sad the tune,
I'd sing so clear in the morning in the beautiful month of June.
I wish I was ten thousand mile, all on some lonesome shore,
Or among the rocky mountains, where the wild beasts howl and roar.
The lark, the lily owl, the eagle, and the little swallow too,
I would give them all, my dearest love, if I was married to you.
from Singing Family of the Cumberlands, by Jean Ritchie
(Oak Publications, 1955 - with illustrations by Maurice Sendak[!])