Unit Three Section A


“Edward, Edward”

Ballads were entertaining stories told in song. Love, adventure, and violence made ballads popular with common people and nobility alike. Why did people find the story that follows so fascinating?

"Why does your sword so drip with blood,
Edward, Edward?
Why does your sword so drip with blood,
And why so sad are ye, O?"
"O I have killed my hawk so good,
Mother, mother,
O I have killed my hawk so good
And I had no more but he, O."

"Your hawk's blood was never so red,
Edward, Edward,
Your hawk's blood was never so red,
My dear son, I tell thee, O."
"O I have killed my red-roan steed,
Mother, mother, O I have killed my red-roan steed,
That was so fair and free, O."

"Your steed was old and your stable's filled,
Edward, Edward,
Your steed was old and your stable's filled,
Now say what may it be, O."
"It was my father that I killed,
Mother, mother,
It was my father that I killed,
Alas, and woe is me, O."

"What penance win ye do for that,
Edward, Edward?
What penance will ye do for that,
My dear son, now tell me, O?"
"I'll set my feet in yonder boat,
Mother, mother,
I'll set my feet in yonder boat,
And I'll fare across the sea, O.”

”What will ye do with your towers and hall,
Edward Edward?
What will ye do with your towers and hall,
That are so fair to see, O?"
"I'll let them stand till down they fall,
Mother, mother,
I'll let them stand till down they fall,
For here nevermore may I be, O."

"What will ye leave to your babes and your wife
Edward, Edward?
What will ye leave to your babes and your wife,
When ye go over the sea, O?"
"The world's room--let them beg through life,
Mother, mother,
The world's room--let them beg through life,
For them nevermore will I see, O."

"And what will ye leave to your own mother dear
Edward, Edward?
And what will ye leave to your own mother dear,
My dear son, now tell me, O?"
"The curse of Hell from me shall ye bear,
Mother, mother,
The curse of Hell from me shall ye bear:
Such counsel ye gave to me, O! "

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. Why does Edward's mother first question her son?
2. What are Edward's first two explanations for the bloody sword? Why does his mother not believe him?
3. What is the truth? Whom did Edward kill
4. What does Edward say he will do in order to receive forgiveness?
5. What will happen to his property and hi family? Do you think that they deserve this punishment? Explain your answer.
6. In the last lines Edward curses his mother. Why? How can she be responsible for he son's crime? Explain your answer.
7. What questions are not answered in the poem? Why do you think they are left unanswered?

”Lord Randal”

The story of Lord Randal, like many other medieval ballads, has a shocking ending. What makes Randal's fate especially horrible?

"O where hae ye been, Lord Randal my son?
O where hae ye been, my handsome young man?"
"I hae been to the wild wood; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"Where got ye your dinner, Lord Randal my son?
O Where got ye your dinner, my handsome young man?"
"I dined wi' my true--love; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald he down."

"And what did she give ye, Lord Randal, my son?
And what did she give ye, my handsome young man?"
"Eels fried in a pan; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"What became of your bloodhounds, Lord Randal my son?
What became of your bloodhounds, my handsome young man?"
"O they swelled and they died; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"O I fear ye are poisoned, Lord Randal my son!
O I fear ye are poisoned, my handsome young man!"
"O yes, I am poisoned; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wald lie down."

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. Who is speaking to Lord Randal in this ballad?
2. Where has Lord Randal been? How does he feel?
3. What has happened to Lord Randal's hunting dogs?
4. At what point in the ballad do you suspect what has happened to Lord Randal? What leads you to this conclusion?
5. Why is Lord Randal "sick at the heart"?
6. What questions are not answered in the ballad? Based on the little information provided in the poem, what might Lord Randal have done to bring about this punishment?
7. What is the theme of this ballad? Is this theme still popular today?

”Brian O Linn”

"Brian O Linn" is an Irish children's ballad. Notice that, like most ballads, "Brian O Linn" has a musical rhythm. Are the mood and subject also similar to those in other ballads?

Brian O Linn had no breeches to wear,
He got an old sheepskin to make him a pair.
With the fleshy side out and the woolly side in,
"They'll be pleasant and cool," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn had no shirt to his back,
He went to a neighbor's, and borrowed a sack.
Then he puckered the meal bag in under his chin--
"Sure they'll take them for ruffles," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn was hard up for a coat,
So he borrowed the skin of a neighboring goat.
With the horns sticking out from his oxters, and then,
"Sure they'll take them for pistols," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn had no hat to put on,
So he got an old beaver to make him a one.
There was none of the crown left and less of the brim,
"Sure there's fine ventilation," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn had no brogues for his toes,
He hopped in two crab--shells to serve him for those.
Then he split up two oysters that match'd like a twin,
"Sure they'll shine out like buckles," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn had no watch to put on,
So he scooped out a turnip to make him a one.
Then he placed a young cricket in under the skin--
"Sure they'll think it is ticking," says Brian O Linn.

Brian O Linn to his house had no door,
He'd the sky for a roof, and the bog for a floor,
He'd a way to jump out, and a way to swim in,
" 'Tis a fine habitation," says Brian O Linn.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What problems does Brian O Linn face?
2. What items does Brian use for different articles of clothing?
3. Where does Brian live? What is his opinion of his "house"?
4. How does Brian O Linn deal with his problems? What does this tell you about Brian?
5. Does Brian O Linn seem to care about what others will think of his clothes? How do you know?
6. Do you think that Brian's attitude toward life is a good one or a foolish one? Explain your answer.

from The Canterbury Tales “Prologue”

The Canterbury Tales is the story of pilgrims on the road to Canterbury, England. In "The Prologue," Chaucer describes some of the travelers. What do you learn about each character from Chaucer's description?


Geoffrey Chaucer is considered one of the greatest poets of the English language. He lived from about 1340 to 1400. Chaucer was an educated, well--traveled man. He was comfortable with the common folk and with kings.
The Canterbury Tales is Chaucer's masterpiece. It shows his understanding of his society as well as his mastery of the English language. The thirty pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales represent the people of the Middle Ages. The stories they tell to entertain each other show Chaucer's ability to handle almost any type of writing.

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire's end
Of England they to Canterbury wend,
The holy blessed martyr there to seek
Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal
Befell that, in that season, on a day
In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay
Ready to start upon my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, full of devout homage,
There came at nightfall to that hostelry
Some nine and twenty in a company
Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury town would ride.

The rooms and stables spacious were and wide,
And well we there were eased, and of the best.
And briefly, when the sun had gone to rest,
So had I spoken with them, every one,
That I was of their fellowship anon,
And made agreement that we'd early rise
To take the road, as you I will apprise.
But none the less, whilst I have time and space,
Before yet farther in this tale I pace,
It seems to me accordant with reason
To inform you of the state of every one
Of all of these, as it appeared to me,
And who they were, and what was their degree,
And even how arrayed there at the inn;
And with a knight thus will I first begin.

A knight there was, and he a worthy man,
Who, from the moment that he first began
To ride about the world, loved chivalry,
Truth, honour, freedom and all courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his liege-lord's war,
And therein had he ridden (none more far)
As well in Christendom as heathenesse,
And honoured everywhere for worthiness.
At Alexandria, he, when it was won;
Full oft the table's roster he'd begun
Above all nations' knights in Prussia.
In Latvia raided he, and Russia,
No christened man so oft of his degree.
In far Granada at the siege was he
Of Algeciras, and in Belmarie.
At Ayas was he and at Satalye
When they were won; and on the Middle Sea
At many a noble meeting chanced to be.
Of mortal battles he had fought fifteen,
And he'd fought for our faith at Tramissene
Three times in lists, and each time slain his foe.
This self-same worthy knight had been also
At one time with the lord of Palatye
Against another heathen in Turkey:
And always won he sovereign fame for prize.
Though so illustrious, he was very wise
And bore himself as meekly as a maid.
He never yet had any vileness said,
In all his life, to whatsoever wight.
He was a truly perfect, gentle knight.
But now, to tell you all of his array,
His steeds were good, but yet he was not gay.
Of simple fustian wore he a jupon
Sadly discoloured by his habergeon;
For he had lately come from his voyage
And now was going on this pilgrimage.

With him there was his son, a youthful squire,
A lover and a lusty bachelor,
With locks well curled, as if they'd laid in press.
Some twenty years of age he was, I guess.
In stature he was of an average length,
Wondrously active, aye, and great of strength.
He'd ridden sometime with the cavalry
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy,
And borne him well within that little space
In hope to win thereby his lady's grace.
Prinked out he was, as if he were a mead,
All full of fresh-cut flowers white and red.
Singing he was, or fluting, all the day;
He was as fresh as is the month of May.
Short was his gown, with sleeves both long and wide.
Well could be sit on horse, and fairly ride.
He could make songs and words thereto indite,
Joust, and dance too, as well as sketch and write.
So hot he loved that, while night told her tale,
He slept no more than does a nightingale.
Courteous he, and humble, willing and able,
And carved before his father at the table.

There was also a nun, a prioress,
Who, in her smiling, modest was and coy;
Her greatest oath was but "By Saint Eloy!"
And she was known as Madam Eglantine.
Full well she sang the services divine,
Intoning through her nose, becomingly;
And fair she spoke her French, and fluently,
After the school of Stratford-at-the-Bow,
For French of Paris was not hers to know.
At table she had been well taught withal,
And never from her lips let morsels fall,
Nor dipped her fingers deep in sauce, but ate
With so much care the food upon her plate
That never driblet fell upon her breast.
In courtesy she had delight and zest.
Her upper lip was always wiped so clean
That in her cup was no iota seen
Of grease, when she had drunk her draught of wine.
Becomingly she reached for meat to dine.
And certainly delighting in good sport,
She was right pleasant, amiable- in short.
She was at pains to counterfeit the look
Of courtliness, and stately manners took,
And would be held worthy of reverence.
But, to say something of her moral sense,
She was so charitable and piteous
That she would weep if she but saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, though it were dead or bled.
She had some little dogs, too, that she fed
On roasted flesh, or milk and fine white bread.
But sore she'd weep if one of them were dead,
Or if men smote it with a rod to smart:
For pity ruled her, and her tender heart.
Right decorous her pleated wimple was;
Her nose was fine; her eyes were blue as glass;
Her mouth was small and therewith soft and red;
But certainly she had a fair forehead;
It was almost a full span broad, I own,
For, truth to tell, she was not undergrown.
Neat was her cloak, as I was well aware.
Of coral small about her arm she'd bear
A string of beads and gauded all with green;
And therefrom hung a brooch of golden sheen
Whereon there was first written a crowned "A,"
And under, Amor vincit omnia.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. At what time of year do the pilgrims set out for Canterbury? Why do you think this time of year makes people want to go on such a journey?
2 .Why are the travelers going on this pilgrimage?
3. How many battles has the Knight fought?
4. The Knight is described as being meek and noble. However, he has fought in many battles. Do you think it is possible for a man to have a peaceful spirit and still be a great warrior? Explain your answer.
5. Like the Knight, the Squire also goes into battle. Does he fight for the same reasons as the Knight? Is he different from his father in any other ways? Explain your answer.
6. Describe the Prioress. Does anything surprise you about this holy woman? Why or why not?
7. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer painted a picture of his society. He chose his characters carefully to show what people of his time were like. If you were writing a similar set of tales today, which people would you choose to represent modern society?