Sunday, October 27, 2013

Something Different

                    Henry’s Complaint

Young Henry of England, Queen Eleanor’s son,
Went to the King when the dancing was done,
Said “Father, I’ve found me a maiden to love
As fair as the dawn and as soft as a dove,
Marie de Provence I must have for my bride”
And this, I am told, is what Henry replied.

“Marie de Provence, she is slender and tall,
And so was her mother, as well I recall,
The husband was dark but the daughter is fair,
Rather like you if you judge by her hair,
My daughter shall never be wed to her brother,
Now as you’re my son, not a word to your mother.”

A month or three passing, too many to grieve,
For the loss of one maiden, again he sought leave,
This time he would wed with a wealthy lord’s heir,
Perfect of face and with raven dark hair,
“The loveliest maiden in all of the lands
And Ingibiorg’s holdings fit well with your plans.”

King Henry replied, after glancing around,
“Another as lovely will have to be found.
A husband gets weary the weeks he is banned
From the bed of his wife by the midwife’s command
She’s younger than you by some eight months or nine
And will be no bride for a child of mine.”

“Ellen the Fair is the choice of my heart
And surely once wedded we never shall part;
The third chance is lucky, or so I am told,
She is older than me and her hair is not gold,
I will speak to my father, her hand I will win
For I’m certain this maiden can not be my kin.”

“She is older than you by some two years or three.
I remember a time I was single and free
And you must not suppose that my youngest romance
Was persuading a queen to take England for France.
I am sorry my son, but alas it is true
That Ellen’s another who isn’t for you.”

“Of all the treasures of the world, a wife is what I crave,
What is the use of being young and handsome, rich and brave,
What profits me to woo and win the fairest neath the sun
Only to learn my father has fathered every one?
How I can ever find a bride I surely do not know
Now I will to my mother to tell her of my woe.”

“My son, have not I taught you to forgive and to forget,
For all King Henry’s boasting, you have no need to fret,
It’s true your hair is like the king’s, as all the world can see,
And for the rest, he may suppose you got it all from me,
Marry Marie, or Ingibiorg, or Ellen if you please
I cannot vouch for many more, but you’re safe with one of these. 

[Plot stolen from ... . History not entirely accurate—Henry was actually betrothed to Margaret of France at five and married to her at seventeen. But it's at least as accurate as Queen Eleanor's Confession.]


Gordon said...

This is a popular theme:

William H. Stoddard said...

A band some friends of mine used to belong to, the Wild Oats, sang a song with that same plot, though entirely different words, pretty regularly. Their version had a daughter looking for a husband, and her mother finally telling her, "He's not the one who sired you, So marry who you will." It always got a laugh as the various younger male band members took turns standing by the woman playing the daughter.

David Friedman said...

William: That's "Johnny be Fair," the song I linked to at the bottom of the post.

Anonymous said...

It's also quite similar to the classic calypso/ska song, Shame And Scandal.