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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Chris Amos DTStudy Murder Ballads with bloody noses (30) DTStudy: Oxford Tragedy 07 Jun 02

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I set about research with a singer's eye rather than scholars, looking for songs to sing. I am not so interested in finding the earliest version of a particular song, often they are a disappointment if you do, most song seem to be improved by being subjected to the folk process.

There is a group of songs, collected from all over the English-speaking world, which I imagine must have come from a single source.

Story always goes like this; boy meets girl, boy and girl go for a walk, boy murders girl with a fence post/stick/piece of hedge, boy throws girl's body in river/pond, boy returns home at midnight and is let in by mother/father/master/miller who has a light, boy is questioned as to where all the blood has come from and in most instances I have come across always answers with the exact phrase "Bleeding at my Nose".

It's strange, I can remember the first time I heard this song, on a Peter Bellamy solo album and it was that line about bleeding at my nose that remained in my memory. I have come across versions from all parts of the UK and the Appellation all containing the same line. I have included one example from the DT, any ideas?


Once there was a little tailor boy
About sixteen years of age;
My father hired me to a miller
That I might learn the trade.

I fell in love with a Knoxville girl,
Her name was Flora Dean.
Her rosy cheeks, her curly hair,
I really did admire.

Her father he persuaded me
To take Flora for a wife;
The devil he persuaded me
To take Flora's life.

Up stepped her mother so bold and gay,
So boldly she did stand;
Johnny dear, go marry her
And take her off my hands.

I went unto her father's house
About nine o'clock at night,
A-asking her to take a walk
To do some prively talk.

We had not got so very far
Till looking around and around,
He stooping down picked up a stick
And knocks little Flora down.

She fell upon her bended knees,
For mercy she did cry:
O Johnny dear, don't murder me,
For I'm not fit to die.

I took her by her lily-white hands
A-slung her around and around ;
I drug her off to the river-side,
And plunged her in to drown.

I returned back to my miller's house
About nine o'clock at night,
But little did my miller know
What I had been about.

The miller turned around and about,
Said:" Johnny, what blooded your clothes?"
Me being so apt to take a hint:
By bleeding at the nose.

About nine or ten days after that,
Little Flora she was found
A-floating down by her father's house
Who lived in Knoxville town.

From English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Sharp
Collected from Mary Wilson and Mrs. Townley, Kentucky, 1917
DT #311
Laws P35
filename[ OXFRDTRG
Tune file : OXFRDTRG


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