The King’s Daughter

We were ten maidens in the green corn,

Small red leaves in the mill-water:

Fairer maidens never were born,

Apples of gold for the king’s daughter.

We were ten maidens by a well-head,

Small white birds in the mill-water:

Sweeter maidens never were wed,

Rings of red for the king’s daughter.

The first to spin, the second to sing,

10

Seeds of wheat in the mill-water;

The third may was a goodly thing,

White bread and brown for the king’s daughter.

The fourth to sew and the fifth to play,

Fair green weed in the mill-water;

The sixth may was a goodly may,

White wine and red for the king’s daughter.

The seventh to woo, the eighth to wed,

Fair thin reeds in the mill-water;

The ninth had gold work on her head,

20

Honey in the comb for the king’s daughter.

The ninth had gold work round her hair,

Fallen flowers in the mill-water;

The tenth may was goodly and fair,

Golden gloves for the king’s daughter.

We were ten maidens in a field green,

Fallen fruit in the mill-water;

Fairer maidens never have been,

Golden sleeves for the king’s daughter.

By there comes the king’s young son,

30

A little wind in the mill-water;

‘Out of ten maidens ye’ll grant me one,’

A crown of red for the king’s daughter.

‘Out of ten mays ye’ll give me the best,’

A little rain in the mill-water;

A bed of yellow straw for all the rest,

A bed of gold for the king’s daughter.

He’s ta’en out the goodliest,

Rain that rains in the mill-water;

A comb of yellow shell for all the rest,

40

A comb of gold for the king’s daughter.

He’s made her bed to the goodliest,

Wind and hail in the mill-water;

A grass girdle for all the rest,

A girdle of arms for the king’s daughter.

He’s set his heart to the goodliest,

Snow that snows in the mill-water;

Nine little kisses for all the rest,

An hundredfold for the king’s daughter.

He’s ta’en his leave at the goodliest,

50

Broken boats in the mill-water;

Golden gifts for all the rest,

Sorrow of heart for the king’s daughter.

‘Ye’ll make a grave for my fair body,’

Running rain in the mill-water;

‘And ye’ll streek my brother at the side of me,’

The pains of hell for the king’s daughter.