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brains grow roses / geese angel lovers

Lost Chicken in High Weeds 18 Oct 20 - 10:52 PM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 20 - 02:34 AM
Dave Hanson 19 Oct 20 - 02:44 AM
Mo the caller 19 Oct 20 - 08:08 AM
Mo the caller 19 Oct 20 - 08:27 AM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 19 Oct 20 - 12:55 PM
Mo the caller 19 Oct 20 - 02:42 PM
Mo the caller 19 Oct 20 - 03:07 PM
Sandra in Sydney 19 Oct 20 - 08:25 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 19 Oct 20 - 08:50 PM
Jack Campin 20 Oct 20 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,RA 20 Oct 20 - 05:14 AM
Mo the caller 20 Oct 20 - 11:42 AM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,RA 20 Oct 20 - 02:01 PM
GUEST 20 Oct 20 - 02:21 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 03:00 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 03:05 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 06:18 PM
Sandra in Sydney 20 Oct 20 - 06:47 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 06:56 PM
Sandra in Sydney 20 Oct 20 - 07:22 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 08:01 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 08:29 PM
Sandra in Sydney 20 Oct 20 - 08:48 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 20 Oct 20 - 09:23 PM
Jack Campin 21 Oct 20 - 07:16 AM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 26 Oct 20 - 08:22 PM
Lost Chicken in High Weeds 27 Oct 20 - 11:40 AM
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Subject: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 18 Oct 20 - 10:52 PM

Firstly, I am wondering if anyone has any idea as to what songs are being referred to in the following quote from Bob Dylan:

"There's nobody that's going to kill traditional music. All these songs about roses growing out of people's brains and lovers who are really geese and swans that turn into angels - they're not going to die."

I have recently begun reading into the Child Ballads and haven't run up on any quite like that yet, but I would also love to know any recommendations of particular ones that feature even remotely similar levels of "fancy" or general "weirdness" (this actually makes me wish I would have given the thread a different title, I am not sure what happens if one backs out of starting a new thread at this point, in order to restart differently).

I am already aware of "The Elfin Knight" being "supernaturally" oriented, and am fascinated with such imagery, and hope to be pointed towards others with such features.

Nextly, greetings fellow lovers of folk, etc. This is my first post here. I discovered Mudcat perhaps a couple or so months ago while Googling the origins of Jean Ritchie's "Swing and Turn, Jubilee", which led me to an old thread that she actually responded to before passing. I've since come by a few more times and done a little digging around and reading various old threads from miscellaneous searches of interest and finally decided I'd like to register and join in from time to time, and definitely wished to make the inquiry of this thread.

Also, bless you all for building this incredible database!


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 02:34 AM

The first is just an odd description of the "rose and briar" motif.

The geese and angels, I don't get. I think Dylan was making it up.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 02:44 AM

The traditional song, Barbara Allen.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 08:08 AM

To amplify what Jack says. A lot of songs have 'floating verses' so many songs about lovers end with a rose growing from one grave, a briar from the other and meeting in a lovers knot.
For the swan, how about Molly Bawn, where he shoots his sweetheart mistaking her for a swan.
A lot of folk stories have people turned into birds by an evil spell, and a faithful lover / sister rescuing them. Maybe that theme has got into song too.

For other weirdness, how about The Wind and the Rain

Plenty of ghost appearances in song, sailors coming to their lover in dream so that she knows he is dead, lovers telling the mourner to let him sleep after a year and a day. The Wife of Ushers Well.

And curses, Drowned Lovers

(I tried to make links to Mudcat threads and lyrics but it didn't work.)


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 08:27 AM

There is another Mudcat Thread started a few days ago "Ballads & folk songs w/ haunting theme." Some links there, to some of the songs I was thinking of.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 12:55 PM

Very much appreciated thus far, everyone!

>For other weirdness, how about The Wind and the Rain

Indeed, I have been learning that one and actually working on my own re-write. I discovered it in 1996 when I just happened to notice the Jerry Garcia and David Grisman album 'Shady Grove' and was curious enough to read the back to see what it was. The notion of this "rock star" guy doing traditional folk with a mandolinist (I'd never heard of Grisman at all at that point) just struck me as interesting enough to buy and try...and was stunned upon listen.

As a child in the 70s, around 3 or 4 years old, my mother had gotten me a little Sears blue jean pattern record player and some Peter Pan label children's 45s. I was immediately enthralled with "I've Been Working on the Railroad", "Rock Island Line", "Pick a Bail of Cotton", and a few others, none of which I knew to be "folk" or even what folk or any other sort of music was at the time, other than church singing, pretty much.

Then in 2000 I noticed the 'Anthology of American Folk Music' that had been sitting on the wall at a record shop, and got curious, read the box, saw that it wasn't in any way related to the 60s "folk", bought it, and joined the ranks of "changed lives".

Anyway, I'm particularly drawn to ones featuring a bit of weirdness. Not necessarily "spooky", just strange, supernatural, or otherwise vividly outside the norm imagery, and Wind and Rain was the most striking to me from the SG album, though I've only recently taken to learning it, and noticed some things I felt called to "straighten out" for myself in the lyrics in the process.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 02:42 PM

Maybe Americans think Angels where English think ghosts. She Walked through the Fair.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 03:07 PM

Sorry, She Moved through the fair

Then there's one about a magic shape-changing dual between a witch and wizard . Not sure of the title, can't find it through the search box.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 08:25 PM

I had to ring a friend to find the name of the song, then she had to hum it to get to the name & found it here The Two Magicians

so I just did a google search on Two Magicians on mudcat.org & found a number of threads on Two Magicians/Twa Magicians ...

now we all know!


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 19 Oct 20 - 08:50 PM

Pretty interesting, Sandra, thanks for taking that trouble! I just read the lyrics and saw the earliest date being 1828 in the origins thread which includes some Jean Ritchie posts. This place is truly worthy of the word "amazing".

/mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40723


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 03:10 AM

Further to Mo's point - are there ANY trad songs that feature angels? I'd only expect to find them in the cringey fringe of country music.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 05:14 AM

Some versions of 'Jamie Raeburn' imply angels (singing 'hallelujahs') but I can't think of any trad songs that make overt mention of them!


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 11:42 AM

I think the point I was making was that trad songs often imply ghosts / spirits without making overt mention. And maybe Dylan was brought up in a tradition that thought angels (as in the pop song Teen Angel).


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 12:30 PM

>are there ANY trad songs that feature angels? I'd only expect to find them in the cringey fringe of country music.

>maybe Dylan was brought up in a tradition that thought angels

Yeah, and it's especially possible when you consider it quite likely that such a song would have ultimately made its way to him via older country artists there are thusly inclined, Stanley Brothers, etc.

Incidentally in reference to Dylan's country influences, though not the "strange/weird folk" of the thread topic, if anyone hasn't heard him do "Rank Stranger" (only live versions on YouTube, the studio from 'Down in the Groove' is my preference by far), it's highly recommended. Regardless, he definitely pays attention to such artists and it stands to reason that could explain how the "angels" reference came to him.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 02:01 PM

Does an audio recording survive of Dylan's quote about brains, roses, angels and swans?

I wonder whether it's possible that it was mis-transcribed and what he actually said was 'graves', not 'brains' - that'd make more sense in relation to the rose/briar motif as in 'Barbara Allen' and some versions of 'Lord Lovat'.

If there's no audio recording, then that'll remain a conjecture...


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 02:21 PM

ballykissangel??


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 03:00 PM

>audio recording survive of Dylan's quote

I saw it here which says it is from a 1966 Playboy interview, so I suppose there to be no audio that was ever made available to the public, but that notion does make sense. Perhaps the interviewer, on listening back to the tapes, made a transcription error.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 03:05 PM

>ballykissangel

Hmmm...I'm not sure how that relates without having seen it, but I just looked that up and it definitely strikes me as potentially interesting so I'm actually going to give watching it a go.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 06:18 PM

I just discovered Child Ballad 301, in which a queen attempts to lure a fellow into her bed, but he, as best I can tell from the antiquated words, refuses to dishonor the king in such a manner. She is angered by this and attempt to set him up to be bitten by a snake that's under a rock. When the snake is about to attack, apparently some random maiden comes walking along and sees what's happening. Somehow or another she gets the idea that cutting off one of her own breasts will save the man, which it does, and the wound heals within an hour. The two marry and have a child, and by the time the child is born her breast grows back and is fully functioning for nursing.

"O TROY MUIR, my lily-flower,
An asking I'll ask thee;
Will ye come to my bigley bower
And drink the wine wi me?"

"My dame, this is too much honour
You have conferrd on me;
I'm sure it's mair than I've deservd
Frae sic a one as thee."

"In Reekie's towers I hae a bower,
And pictures round it set;
There is a bed that is well made,
Where you and I shall sleep."

"O God forbid," this youth then said,
"That ever I drie sic blame
As ever to touch the queen's bodie,
Altho the king's frae hame."

When that he had these words spoken,
She secretly did say,
Some evil I shall work this man,
Before that it be day.

Whan a' her maids were gane to bed,
And knights were gane frae hame,
She calld upon young Troy Muir,
To put fire in her room.

"An asking, asking, Troy Muir,
An asking ye'll grant me;"
"O, if it be a lawful thing,
My dame it's granted be."

"There is a stane in yon garden,
Nae ane lifts it for me;
But if that ye woud lift the same,
A brave man I'll ca thee.

"Under yon stane there is a pit,
Most dreary for to see,
And in it there's as much red gowd
As buy a dukedom to thee."

"O if I had ae sleep in bed,
And saw the morning sun,
As soon 's I rise and see the skies,
Your will it shall be done."

When birds did sing, and sun did rise,
And sweetly sang the lark,
Troy Muir to the garden went,
To work this dreary wark.

He's taen the stane then by a ring,
And lifted manfullie;
A serpent that lang wanted meat
Round Troy Muir's middle did flee.

"How shall I get rid o this foul beast?
It's by it I must dee;
I never thought the queen, my friend,
Woud work this mischief to me."

But by there came a weelfaird may,
As Troy Muir did tauk,
The serpent's furious rage to lay,
Cut aff her fair white pap.

As soon as she the same had done,
Young Troy Muir was set free,
And in ane hour the wound was heald,
That nae mair pain had she.

Says Troy Muir, My lily-flower,
Ye hae releas d me;
But before I see another day,
My wedded wife ye'se be.

He married her on that same day,
Brought her to his ain hame;
A lovely son to him she bare,
When full nine months were gane.

As heaven was pleasd, in a short time,
To ease her first sad pain,
Sae was it pleasd, when she'd a son,
To hae a pap again.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 06:47 PM

what an amazing song & the history is interesting, too!

child ballad 301 on youtube by Australian Raymond Crook who has recorded all the Child ballads

Raymondfolk child ballads 301. The Queen of Scotland

The Queen of Scotland tries to lure Troy Muir to her bed. When she fails, to punish him, she directs him to lift a stone in her garden, and a hungry snake emerges. A woman comes by and cuts off her breast to appease the serpent, and the wound heals within an hour. Troy marries her the same day. Nine months later, she bears a son, and her breast is miraculously restored in time to suckle the child.

Child regarded this as an "insipid" ballad derived from "some insipid tale." It certainly lacks the drama and emotional intensity of the best ballads, being clearly a retelling of a literary work - but that work is the great celtic tale of the Arthurian Romance. There are many related stories which tell of how the chaste and virtuous maiden, Guinier, bravely sacrificed her breast to save the life of her love, one being Le Livre du Caradoc which is contained in the Old French Perceval (Conte de Graal). In that story the only way for a serpent to be removed from Caradoc's arm was for him to stand in a vat of vinegar, while the king's daughter stood in a vat of milk with her breasts exposed. The serpent, of course, let go of the king and sank its fangs into her breast. The king's friend, Cador, managed to kill the serpent with his sword, but sliced off the girl's nipple in the process, which saved her life. It was later replaced by a magical breast of gold. Medieval variations on the same theme, apart from the ballad collected by Child, include The Story of Azenor, in which the King of Brest's daughter saves her father from a monstrous serpent stuck to his arm by washing her breast with ewe's milk and olive oil and offering herself to the serpent, which released its fangs from her father's arm and attached itself to her breast, which she immediately cut off, flinging it, along with the serpent, into a fire. Her filial piety and sacrifice was rewarded by having her breast restored by God.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 06:56 PM

Fascinating background information! That being considered "insipid" is something of a boggler, it all strikes me as rather deeply rich. I also bookmarked that website for deeper study, and subscribed to his YouTube. Is Raymond among us here at Mudcat, I wonder? What an awesome project he's done there. Very much appreciated, Sandra!


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 07:22 PM

If he is on mudcat, he must be using an nickname, & I'm not aware of any unknown Australians using a nickname! Which doesn't rule him out ...

I was trying to find if his recordings of all Child ballads has been mentioned on mudcat, & it doesn't seem to be. There is only one mention of him I can find & that's about his cover of an Ed Pickford song.

sandra in sydney australia


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 08:01 PM

Perhaps you should make a thread such as "Fellow on YouTube Performing All Child Ballads" or similar, it's definitely a worthy resource to be known, shared, and discoverable by searching "Child Ballads" for future comers/seekers.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 08:29 PM

Here's the rewrite of Dreadful Wind and Rain/Two Sisters that I'm working on for anyone with any interest (and here is the Garcia/Grisman version I adapted from):

A knight gave a maiden a golden ring
oh the wind and rain
Didn't give her younger sister anything
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

The two sisters walked along a forest stream
oh the wind and rain
The young one pushed the older one in
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

Into the deepest water to drown
oh the wind and rain
Watched her as she floated down
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

The water took her down to the miller's pond
oh the wind and rain
His young daughter said there swims a swan
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

The miller pulled the corpse with a long pole hook
oh the wind and rain
Drew the dead maiden out from the brook
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

He left her on the shore in the sun to dry
cryin' oh the wind and rain
A banjo maker came a passing by
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

Gathered her body and took it to his home
oh the wind and rain
Took all the flesh from off her bones
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

Made a banjo head from her fair skin
oh the wind and rain
Made a banjo head from her fair skin
cryin’ oh the dreadful wind and rain

Made 5 strings from her golden hair
oh the wind and rain
Made 5 strings from her golden hair
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

Made tuning pegs of her long finger bones
oh the wind and rain
Made tuning pegs of her long finger bones
cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

Only song that the banjo ever would play
was oh the wind and rain
The only song that the banjo ever played
was oh the dreadful wind and rain


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 08:48 PM

I've posted information on raymond's site to
Francis James Child, BALLADS - recordings?


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 20 Oct 20 - 09:23 PM

Indeed, I saw and was glad, I hope people of the future run up on it!

BTW, I didn't want to make yet another post just for this, but the last stanza of the rewrite above should be:

Only song that the banjo would play
was oh the wind and rain
The only song that the banjo ever played
was oh the dreadful wind and rain

I'd forgotten to edit out the first "ever" when I was figuring out the wording a while back, but noticed it after posting.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Oct 20 - 07:16 AM

come to my bigley bower
And drink the wine wi me?


Which Child number is "Donald and Melania"?


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 26 Oct 20 - 08:22 PM

The Maid and the Palmer (Roud 2335, Child ballad 21)

Not quite the particular flavor of weirdness I dig the most, but definitely an interesting one:

"A palmer (pilgrim) begs a cup from a maid who is washing at the well, so that he could drink from. She says she has none. He says that she would have, if her lover came. She swears she has never had a lover. He says that she has borne six babies and tells her where she buried the bodies. She begs some penance from him. He tells her that she will be transformed into a stepping-stone for seven years, a bell-clapper for seven, and spend seven years in hell.

In some variants, the children were incestously conceived."

Here's the Martin Carthy version:

Oh, the maid went down to the well for to wash,
And the dew fell down from her snow-white flesh,
The dew fell down from her snow-white flesh
As the sun shone down so early.

And as she washed, as she wrang,
She hung them out on a hazel wand,
She hung them out on a hazel wand
When by there come a palmer man.

Oh, God speed you, Old Man, she cries,
God speed you, you fair pretty maid,
God speed you, my pretty fair maid
As the sun shines down so early.

Have you got a cup? Have you got a can?
Can you give a drink to a palmer man?
Can you give a drink to a palmer man
As the sun shines down so early?

Oh, I've no cup and I've no can
And I cannot give a drink to a palmer man,
I cannot give a drink to a palmer man
As the sun shines down so early.

You lie, you lie, you are forsworn,
For if your true love came from Rome,
Then a cup, a can you'd find for him,
As the sun shines down so early.

Now she swore by God and the good St. John,
A true lover she'd had never the one,
A true love she'd had never the one,
As the sun shines down so early.

You lie, you lie, you are forsworn,
For nine children you have born,
Nine children you have born
As the sun shines down so early.

Oh, there's three of them lying under your bedhead,
Three of them under the hearth are laid,
Three of them under the hearth are laid
As the sun shines down so early.

Three more laying on yonder green,
Count, fair maid, for that makes nine,
Count, fair maid, for that makes nine
As the sun shines down so early.

Palmer, oh palmer, do tell me,
Penance that you will give to me,
Penance that you will give to me
As the sun shines down so early.

Penance I will give thee none,
But seven years as a stepping stone,
Seven years as a stepping stone
As the sun shines down so early.

Seven more as a clapper to ring in the bell,
Seven to run as an ape through hell,
Seven to run as an ape through hell
As the sun shines down so early.

Welcome, welcome stepping stone,
Welcome clapper in the bell to ring,
Welcome clapper in the bell to ring
As the sun shines down so early.

Welcome stone, welcome bell,
Christ, keep me from the apes of hell,
Christ, keep me from the apes of hell,
As the sun shines down so early.


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Subject: RE: brains grow roses / geese angel lovers
From: Lost Chicken in High Weeds
Date: 27 Oct 20 - 11:40 AM

I've just gotten to Child 75, "Lord Lovel", mentioned by Guest RA above. It features the rose growing from one grave, briar from the other, with the 2 forming a "lovers knot" growing up to the church steeple:

Lord Lovel he stood at his castle-gate,
A-combing his milk-white steed,
When up came Lady Nancy Belle,
To wish her lover good speed, speed, speed,
To wish her lover good speed.

‘Where are you going, Lord Lovel?’ she says,
‘Oh where are you going?’ says she;
‘I’m going away, Lady Nancy Belle,
Strange countries for to see...’

When will you be back, Lord Lovel?’ she says,
When will you be back?’ says she;
‘In a year or two, or three, at the most,
I’ll return to my Lady Nancy-cy-cy.’

He had not been gone but a year and a day,
Strange countries for to see,
When languishing thoughts came into his head,
Lady Nancy Belle he would see…

So he rode, and he rode, on his milk-white steed,
Till he reached fair London town,
And there he heard St Pancras bells,
And the people all mourning a-round…

‘Oh what is the matter?’ Lord Lovel he said,
‘Oh what is the matter?’ said he;
‘A lady is dead,’ a woman replied,
‘And they call her Lady Nancy...’

So he ordered the grave to be opened wide,
And the shroud be turn-ed down,
And there he kissed her clay-cold lips,
Till the tears came trickling down…

Lady Nancy she died, as it might be, today,
Lord Lovel he died as tomorrow;
Lady Nancy she died out of pure, pure grief,
Lord Lovel he died out of sorrow, sorrow.

Lady Nancy was laid in St. Pancras churchyard,
Lord Lovel was buried close by her;
And out of her bosom there grew a red rose,
And out of her lover’s a briar…

They grew, and they grew, on the church-steeple too,
‘Til they could grow no higher;
So there they entwined in a true-lover’s knot,
For all lovers true to admire...


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