The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16164   Message #612028
Posted By: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
17-Dec-01 - 08:31 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Mary Mild / Bitter Withy / Holy Well
Subject: ADD Version: The Bitter Withy
Maddy Prior sings The Bitter Withy on "Flesh and Blood." I must get that.
From a version without notes, there are some variations in the verses. The one about upling and downling corns, I would guess, is old. For comparison, here is the version, although some is almost the same.

THE BITTER WITHY

And it fell out on a high holiday,
When drops of rain did fall,
Jesus asked of his mother Mary
If He might play at ball.

"To play at ball, my own dear son,
It's time you're going or gone,
But let me hear of no complaints
At night when you come home."

Sweet Jesus went down to yonder town
As far as the Holy Well,
And there He saw as fine children
As ever tongue can tell.

"I say God bless you every one.
Your bodies and souls pray keep.
Little children shall I play with you?
And you shall play with Me?"

"Oh nay, oh nay, that must not be,
And oh nay, that must not be
For we are all lords' and ladies' sons
Born in bowers all."

Jesus made a bridge of beams of the sun,
And over Jordan went He.
And there followed after the three children,
And drowned the three, all three.

And its upling corns, and downling corns,
The mothers of them did whoop and call,
"Oh Mary mild, call home your child,
For ours are drownded all."

Then Mary mild called home her child,
And laid it across her knee.
And with a rod of bitter withy,
She gave him thrashes three.

Oh the withy, the withy, the bitter withy,
Which caused my back to smart!
The withy shall be the very first tree
To perish at the heart.