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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
Tune file : OXFRDTRG
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