1. All under the leaves, and the leaves of life, I met with virgins seven, and one of them was Mary mild, our Lord's mother of heaven.

2. "O what are you seeking, you seven fair maids, all under the leaves of life, come tell, come tell, what seek you, all under the leaves of life?"

3. "We're seeking for no leaves, Thomas, but for a friend of thine, we're seeking for sweet Jesus Christ, to be our guide and thine."

4. "Go down, go down to yonder town, and sit in the gallery, and there you'll see sweet Jesus Christ, nailed to a big yew tree."

5. So down they went to yonder town, as fast as foot could fall, and many a grievous bitter tear, from the virgins' eyes did fall.

6. "O peace, mother, O peace, mother, your weeping doth me grieve, I must suffer this," he said, "for Adam and for Eve."

7. "O mother, take you John Evangelist, and for to be your son, and he will comfort you sometimes, mother, as I have done."

8. "O come, thou John Evangelist, thou'rt welcome unto me, but more welcome my own dear Son, whom I nursed on my knee."

9. Then he laid his head on his right shoulder, seeing death it struck him nigh -- "the Holy Ghost be with your soul, I die, mother dear, I die."

10. O the rose, the gentle rose, and the fennel that grows so green, God give us grace, in every place, to pray for our kind and queen.

11. Furthermore for our enemies all our prayers they should be strong, Amen, good Lord; your charity is the ending of my song.

Anonymous, 17th Century. Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Seven Virgins

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