A man in dark from God knows where
Went to an inn and rested there.
As he waited on his seat
He saw the keeper’s daughter, pure and sweet.
Later that night he snuck into her room
And lay with her as would a groom.
In the morning he went to go his way
But she asked him to forever stay.
To this the man gave his reply,
“Sweet lady, your wish I cannot deny,
And if you’ll answer these few questions
Forthright I’ll follow your suggestions.”
“Kind sir, so in love am I,” said she,
“So please tell me what your questions be.”
“What is taller than a tree,
or deeper than the sea?
What is louder than a horn,
or sharper than a thorn?
What is greener than the grass,
or worse than a woman crass?”
“Oh, Heaven is taller than a tree,
and Hell is deeper than the sea.
Thunder is louder than a horn,
and hunger is sharper than a thorn.
Poison is greener than the grass,
and the Devil is worse than a woman crass.”
But when to the man she said his name,
He flew away in sudden flame.
Note: Adapted from Francis James Child’s, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, No. 1, “Riddles Widely Expounded”