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WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?

20 Jul 00 - 08:53 PM (#261892)
Subject: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Mrrzy

This song has always puzzled me. Why was she so upset that he would be careful - did it show a lack of passion? Is it one of those ça se fait sans s'demander things? Or is it just that she wouldn't lie down with anyone and used that as an excuse? I never got it. What do you all think?
My father, on the other hand, could see how he could mount her on a horse, he just couldn't picture how he could manage to mount himself upon another. My mom had more trouble with the description of their pair as sibling-like. Anyway, here are the lyrics:

(Can't recall title, it's on Faithful Lovers and Other Phenomena, by Cynthia Gooding)

There was a knight and he was young a-riding along the way, Sir
And there he met a lady fair, among the cocks of hay, Sir (bis)
Quoth he, Shall you and I, Lady, all on the grass lie down-O
And I will especial care of the rumpling of your gown-O (bis)
-If you will go along with me unto my father's hall, Sir
You shall enjoy my maidenhead, and my estate and all, Sir (bis)
So he mounted her on a milk-white steed, himself upon another
And thus they rid upon the road, like sister and like brother (bis)
But when they came to her father's hall, which was moated round about, Sir
She stepped straight within the gate, and shut that young knight out, Sir (bis)
Here is a purse of gold, she said, Take it for your pains, Sir
And I will send my father's man to go home with you again, Sir (bis)
And if you meat a lady fair as you go through the next town, Sir
You must not fear the dewy grass, nor the rumpling of her gown, Sir (bis)
And if you meet a lady fair as you go by the hill, Sir
If you do not when you may, you shall not when you will, Sir (bis)

Actually, it was the very last line that took me some effort to untangle as a small child...

20 Jul 00 - 08:55 PM (#261893)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Mrrzy

That should read "and I will HAVE especial care..." - and (LOL!) "if you MEET a lady fair..." - sorry about that!

20 Jul 00 - 09:07 PM (#261899)
Subject: Lyr Add: BLOW THE WINDS (from Eliza Carthy)
From: Jeri

Sounds a lot like the following song. Seems like she's trying to keep from getting more than her gown rumpled/mantle fondled.

Blow the Winds
(From Eliza Carthy on Red Rice)

There was a shepherd's son
He kept sheep on the hill
He laid his pipe and his crook aside
And there he slept his fill

And blow the winds high-o, high-o
Sing blow the winds high-o

Well he looked east and he looked west
He took another look
And there he saw a lady gay
Was dipping in a brook

She said: "Sir, don't touch my mantle
Come let my clothes alone
I will give you as much bright money
As you can carry home"

"I will not touch your mantle
I'll let your clothes alone
But I'll take you out of the water clear
My dear to be my own"

He mounted her on a milk white steed
Himself upon another
And there they rode along the road
Like sister and like brother

And as they rode along the road
He spied some cocks of hay
"Oh look!" he says "there's a lovely place
For men and maids to play"

And when they came to her father's house
They rang long at the ring
And who is there but her brother
To let the young girl in

When the gates were opened
This young girl she jumped in
"Oh, look!" she says, "you're a fool without
And I'm a maid within!"

There is a horse in my father's stable
He stands behind the thorn
He shakes himself above the trough
But dares not pry the corn

There is cock in my father's yard
A double comb he wears
He shakes his wings and he crows full loud
But a capon's crest he bears

And there is a flower, in my father's garden
It's called the marigold
The fool that will not, when he can
He shall not when he would

Says the shepherd's son as he doffed his shoes
My feet they shall run bare
And if I ever meet another girl
I'll have that girl beware

20 Jul 00 - 09:12 PM (#261904)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Malcolm Douglas

Well...that's The Baffled Knight, (Child #112).  There are several versions on the DT -you can find them through the "Child" number.  There are also French versions.  It's generally something on the lines of "You should have gone for it when you had the chance".  Presumably politeness -at any rate when it amounted to indecisiveness- was not always appreciated!


20 Jul 00 - 09:16 PM (#261906)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Jeri

Er, put another way:

Female walking through a park known to be frequented by Bad Guys.
He: "You really shouldn't be walking here. May I ensure your safety." She "Sure, fine, whatever."
They walk...
He "Oh darn, my feet hurt. Let's lie down for a while and fool around."
She "Oh, no! I really like you, and I appreciate you seeing me safely home, but I just bought this dress, and I'm not having you messing it up. I have a better idea - let's go back to my place."
He "OK"
They walk on until she is safely home. Her large boyfriend comes out and beats the guy up.

20 Jul 00 - 09:46 PM (#261912)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Bill D

besides, in them days grass stains were a SURE sign of un-chaste behavior and maidens took great care to avoid green stains on their gowns.....

"A reputation for chastity is very important for a lady.....chastity itself may also be useful on occasion"
....(paraphrase of old quote)

20 Jul 00 - 09:47 PM (#261913)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: Mbo

Either that or he was afraid she'd slap him with the dry-cleaning bill.


20 Jul 00 - 11:12 PM (#261938)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.

Henceforth, when you doe meet a maide,
a mile out of the towne,
Sir Knight, you must not be affraid
of soyling of her gowne: {chorus]


It is a proverb, many say,
and truth it is in tryall,
He that will not when as he may,
shall after have denyall.

I've also seen it as a 17th century couplet:
He that will not when he may,
When he will he shall have nay.

Verses above from Richard Climsell's version of 1637 which Prof. Child overlooked (#112). It's indexed as ZN2506 in the broadside ballad index on my website.

20 Jul 00 - 11:39 PM (#261946)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.

Whoops, the 2nd line of the couplet should be:
When he would he shall have nay.

21 Jul 00 - 10:41 AM (#262117)
Subject: RE: BS: WHY not fear the rumpling of her gown-O?
From: GUEST,Mrr

VERY interesting. But it was HE who first said I'll be careful, and it seemed to me that it was that which pissed off the maid. However, those other versions show that it might just be the order of the verses the way CG sings it...