The Baffled Knight

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The Baffled Knight or Blow Away the Morning Dew is Child ballad 112 (Roud 11), existing in numerous variants. The first known version was published in Thomas Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia (1609)[1][2] with a matching tune, making this one of the few early ballads for which there is extant original music. The song was included in such notable collections as Pills to Purge Melancholy by Thomas d'Urfey (1719–1720) and Reliques of Ancient English Poetry by Thomas Percy (1765).[2]

Its versions were collected in England, Scotland, the USA, Canada.[1] One version was recorded by Cecil Sharp from John Dingle (Coryton in Devon, Sept. 12, 1905).[2]


A knight (or in later versions a farmer's son or a shepherd's son) meets a maid away from house and town, sometimes swimming in a brook. He proposes intimacy. She persuades him that they will be more comfortable upon her richly-appointed bed, or that if he brings her to her father's house, she will marry him and bring a rich dowry. When they arrive at her home she goes in first and locks him out; in most variants, once safely inside she taunts him for his gullibility.

The ballad generally includes advice to young men not be put off by maidenly protests when they meet defenseless women;

There is a gude auld proverb,
I’ve often heard it told,
He that would not when he might,
He should not when he would.[3][4]

In one variant, he finds her again, and she tricks him by claiming her lover is near, so that he falls into the river, and a third time, in which she pulls his boots halfway off, so he is unable to get them on or off quickly enough to catch her.


  1. ^ a b See here.
  2. ^ a b c John Morrish; Rikky Rooksby; Mark Brend (1 July 2007). The Folk Handbook: Working with Songs from the English Tradition. Backbeat Books. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-4768-5400-7.
  3. ^ i.e., he that won't do something when he could, won't be allowed to when he wants to.
  4. ^ An interesting use of this proverb occurs in the literary poem by Robert Henryson, Robene and Makyne

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