The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12846   Message #3058707
Posted By: Vic Smith
21-Dec-10 - 01:55 PM
Thread Name: Conversation With Death
Subject: RE: Conversation With Death
This song, Death And The Lady was collected from a Mr Baker of Maidstone in Kent, England in 1946 by Francis Collinson. It became very popular in folk clubs when it was included in the hugely popular Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L.Lloyd. It was published in 1959 and I have a first edition. The book was republished under the title Classic English Folk Songs in 2003. I sing it with my wife and we have been singing it from time to time over decades.:-

Death and the Lady

As I walked out one morning in May
The birds did sing and the lambs did play
The birds did sing and the lambs did play
I met an old man, I met an old man
I met an old man by the way

His head was bald, his beard was grey
His coat was of a myrtle shade
I asked him what strange countryman
Or what strange place, or what strange place
Or what strange place he did belong

"My name is Death, cannot you see?
Lords, dukes, and ladies bow down to me
And you are one of those branches three
And you fair maid, and you fair maid,
And you fair maid must come with me"

"I'll give you gold and jewels rare
I'll give you costly robes to wear
I'll give you all my wealth in store
If you'll let me live, if you'll let me live
If you'll let me live a few years more"

"Fair lady, lay your robes aside
No longer glory in your pride
And now, sweet maid, make no delay
Your time is come, your time is come
Your time is come and you must away"

And not long after this fair maid died
"Write on my tomb," the lady cried,
"Here lies a poor distressed maid
Whom Death now lately, whom Death now lately
Whom Death now lately hath betrayed"

There is a MIDI version on the tune that you can hear by clicking here