The 'Sad Ditty' Born Of The Story Of Isabella

by John Payne

John Payne

Alack! ah who could the ill Christian be
That stole my pot away,
My pot of basil of Salern, from me?
'Twas thriv'n with many a spray
And I with mine own hand did plant the tree,
Even on the festal day.
'Tis felony to waste another's ware.

'Tis felony to waste another's ware;
Yea, and right grievous sin.
And I, poor lass, that sowed myself whilere
A pot with flowers therein,
Slept in its shade, so great it was and fair.
But folk, that envious bin,
Stole it away even from my very door.

'Twas stolen away even from my very door.
Full heavy was my cheer,
(Ah, luckless maid, would I had died tofore!)
Who loved it passing dear
Yet kept one day, through him whom I adore,
Ill ward upon my gear.
I planted it with marjoram about.

I planted it with majoram about,
When May was blithe and new;
Yea, thrice I watered it, week in, week out,
And watched how well it grew:
But now, for sure, away from me 'tis ta'en.

Ay, now for sure away from me 'tis ta'en;
I may 't no longer hide.
Had I but known (alas, regret is vain!)
That which should me betide,
Before my door on guard I down had lain
To sleep, my flowers beside.
Yet might the Great God ease me at His will.

Yea, God most High might ease me, at His will,
If but it liked Him well,
Of him who wrought me such unright and ill;
He into pangs of hell
Cast me, who stole my basil-pot, that still
Was full of such sweet smell,
Its savour did all dole from me away.

All dole its savour did from me away;
It was so redolent,
When, with the risen sun, at early day
To water it I went,
The folk would marvel all at it and say,
"Whence comes this sweetest scent?"
And I for love of it shall surely die.

Yea, I for love of it shall surely die,
For love and grief and pain.
If one would tell me where it is, I'd buy
It willingly again.
Fivescore gold crowns, that in my purse have I,
I'd proffer him full fain,
And eke a kiss, if so it like the swain.

Last updated February 21, 2018