God prosper long our noble king,
Our lives and safeties all;
A woeful hunting once there did
In Chevy Chase befall.
To drive the deer with hound and horn
Earl Percy took the way;
The child may rue that is unborn
The hunting of that day.
The stout earl of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summer days to take--
The chiefest harts in Chevy Chase
To kill and bear away.
These tidings to Earl Douglas came
In Scotland where he lay;
Who sent Earl Percy present word
He would prevent his sport.
The English earl not fearing that,
Did to the woods resort.
With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
All chosen men of might,
Who knew full well in time of need
To aim their shafts aright.
The gallant greyhound swiftly ran
To chase the fallow deer;
On Monday they began to hunt
Ere daylight did appear;
And long before high noon they had
A hundred fat bucks slain;
Then having dined, the drovers went
To rouse the deer again.
The bowmen mustered on the hills,
Well able to endure;
Their backsides all with special care
That day were guarded sure.
The hounds ran swiftly through the woods,
The nimble deer to take,
That with their cries the hills and dales
An echo shrill did make.
Lord Percy to the quarry went
To view the tender deer;
Quoth he, "Earl Douglas promised once
This day to meet me here."
"But if I thought he would not come,
No longer would I stay";
With that a brave young gentleman
Thus to the earl did say:
"Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,
His men in armour bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
All marching in our sight;
"All men of pleasant Teviotdale,
Fast by the River Tweed."
"O cease your sports," Earl Percy said,
"And take your bows with speed;
"And now with me, my countrymen,
Your courage forth advance,
For there was never champion yet,
In Scotland or in France,
"That ever did on horseback come,
And if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man
With him to break a spear."
Earl Douglas on his milk white steed,
Most like a baron bold,
Rode foremost of his company,
Whose armour shone like gold.