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The Spanish Lady’s Love

[ Roud 8375 ; trad.]

The Spanish Lady’s Love is printed in Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, Vol. II, (originally 1765, this version London: George Allan & Unwin, 1885), p. 247.

Eliza Carthy sang The Spanish Lady’s Love, with Percy’s text shortened from 16 to 5 verses, on her 2023 album Conversations We’ve Had Before. She noted:

The song, which comes from a Victorian Songster given to me by our friend Slim, displays what Ben [Seal] calls “totally decent behaviour”. There’s nothing, barring the unfortunate Señorita’s falling in love with her captor, that anyone could judge anyone for. No edge. I’m decent to you, you’re decent to me, thanks for all the bracelets.


Eliza Carthy sings The Spanish Lady’s Love

Did you hear a Spanish lady,
How she wooed an English man?
Garments gay as rich as may be,
Dressed with jewels she had on.
Of a comely countenance and grace was she,
And in birth and parentage of high degree.

As his prisoner there he kept her,
In his hands her life did lie;
Cupid’s bands did tie her faster
By the linking of the eye.
In his courteous company was all her joy,
To favour him in any thing she was not coy.

But at last there came commandments
For to set the women free,
With their jewels still adorned,
And none to do them injury.
Then said this lady mild, “Full woe is me;
O let me retain my kind captivity!”

“Courteous lady, leave your fancy,
Here comes all that wins such strife;
I in England have already
A sweet woman to my wife:
I’ll not falsify my vows for gold or gain,
Or for all you precious women here in Spain.”

“Then commend me to thy lady,
Bear to her this ring of gold;
And this bracelet as a token;
Fearing that I was so bold:
All my jewels in like store take thou with thee,
They are fitting for thy wife, but not for me.”