From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):
"...The plot of George Collins has its secrets. From an examination of a number of variants, the full story becomes clearer. The girl by the stream is a water-fairy. The young man has been in the habit of visiting her. He is about to marry a mortal, and the fairy takes her revenge with a poisoned kiss. The song telling that story is among the great ballads of Europe. Its roots and branches are spread in Scandinavia¹, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere. An early literary form is the German poem of the Knight of Staufenberg (c. 1310). France alone has about ninety versions, mostly in the form of the familiar Le Roi Renaud, though here much of the dream-quality of the tale is missing, since the girl by the stream is lost sight of, and instead the hero is mortally wounded in battle. The first half of the George Collins story is told in the ballad called Clerk Colvill (Child 42), the second half in Lady Alice (Child 85). Either these are two separate songs which have been combined to form George Collins or (which seems more likely) they are two fragments of the completer ballad. George Collins has rarely been reported in England, though in the summer of 1906 Dr. G. B. Gardiner collected three separate versions in different Hampshire villages, two of them on the same day. (FSJ vol.III, pp.299-301)" -R.V.W./A.L.L.
This version was collected by Dr. Gardiner from Henry Stansbridge of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, in 1906, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.III, p.301. Another version collected by Gardiner (tune from Henry Blake of Bartley, Hampshire, 1908, with text collated from 5 variants from the Southampton/Lyndhurst area) was published in The Wanton Seed (ed. Frank Purslow, EFDS 1968).
¹ Elveskud, according to Henri Davenson (Le Livre des Chansons, 1955).
@death @love @revenge @myth
Versions on the DT in addition to those linked to above:
George Collins (2)
In the Forum:
Re Gilardin This is an Italian (Piemontese) ballad, an almost exact cognate of Renaud.
There is a version of George Collins at Lesley Nelson's Child Ballads site, together with Professor Child's versions A and B of Lady Alice, and another variant, Earl Colvin. This last was collected by John Jacob Niles, so there may be doubts as to its authenticity.
There are two entries at the Traditional Ballad Index: