The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #169426   Message #4094663
Posted By: Felipa
24-Feb-21 - 04:25 PM
Thread Name: ballad - she pushes him into the river
Subject: RE: ballad - she pushes him into the river
Leenia, did you find out the nationality of the singer of the particular recording in question?
There are so many versions of this song, and so many titles, and so many Mudcat threads (in clickable blue at the top of this discussion thread).
Here's another


From Niles, The Ballad Book as "Lady Ishbel and her Parrot." This was also published in 1938 (Bronson 96) under the title, "Lady Ishbel and the Elfin-Knight." Since there is no Lady Isabel (just Ishbel) in the lyrics, the title (and most likely the text) must have been supplied by Niles. No other US collector has found that title or any name relating to Isabel and it appears only in Child A. Why Niles changed the title from Isabel to Ishbel is unknown- haha. Must be the folk pronunciation!! [women are sometimes called Ishbel in Scotland - and looking for the title Lady Ishbel, I found a real-life Ishbel, Lady Aberdeen and a Lady Isbel Avenue in Belfast, Northern Ireland - my note, Felipa]

The opening stanza is standard, but soon Nilisms creep in, showing that this is likely a ballad recreation (see Wilgus, who has documented that Niles re-worked traditional material). The melody was also used by Niles from another of his ballads, Lulle-Lullay (Ten Christmas Carols- 1935).

R. Matteson 2011, 2014

LADY ISHBEL AND HER PARROT - Hattie Melton (Asheville, NC) 1934; Collected John Jacob Niles.

He followed her up and he followed her down,
He followed her as she lay.
And she not having the strength to withstand,
Or the breath to say him nay.

"Go fetch me a sack of the old lord's gold,
And most of your mama's fee,
And a pited hoss and an iron-gray,
From your stable of thirty-and-three."

If Ishbel did ride at the villian's side,
With the gold and her mama's fee,
She was ridin' far off to the broad seaside,
Where married she would be.

"Get down, get down, my right pretty miss,
Your hour has come, I see,
For here I've drownded nine young ladies gay,
And you the tenth one will be.

"Pull off, pull off that shiny silk gown,
And them right pretty rings you own,
For women's clothes cost too much gold
To rest in the salt sea foam."

"It's turn, oh turn, oh turn your head,
And look at yon green-growin' tree,
For if I doff my shiny silk gown,
A naked lady You'll see."

He turned his face around about,
To look at that green-growin' tree,
And she grabbed him round the middle so small,
And she flicked him into the sea.

"Lay there, false villian, lay cold and dead,
Lay there in room of me,
For it's nine gay ladies you've drownded here,
But the tenth one drownded ye."

Her pited hoss tuck her right quickly home,
She led the iron-gray,
And when she entered her father's hall,
The sky was breakin' day.

"Speak none of my pranks, my right pretty Poll,
Else I'll make you out a liar.
But if you be wise, your cage shall be made
Of pretty golden wire."
I'm interested to see on another page about the ballad that Halewijn is a version of this song. I have an lp of Flemish songs which includes the song Halewijn (I haven't listened to any of my lps for ages though). There are versions in which Ishbel or Polly or whoever takes out a knife instead of pushing her would-be murderer into the sea.