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Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?

DigiTrad:
BARBARA ALLEN
BARBARA ALLEN (2)
BARBARA ALLEN (5)
BARBARA ELLEN (3)
BAWBEE ALLAN


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(origins) Origins of: Barbara Allen, is there a story ? (37)
Origins: Barbara Allen (246)
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(origins) ADD: Barb'ry Allen (32)
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Chord Req: Tom Rush's 'Barb'ry Allen' (5)
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Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (Vic Legg) (2)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Shirley Collins) (2)
Lyr Req: susan reed's barbara allen #84 (5)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (#84, Hedy West) (3)
Lyr Req: Barb'ry Allen (from Tom Rush) (6)
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Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (from Jimmy Stewart) (4)
Lyr Req: Fred Jordan's Barbara Allen (5)
Barbara Allen in '30's Film (37)
Lyr Req: Barbara Allen (7)
Barbarra Ellen (15)


Sorcha 02 Feb 00 - 01:19 AM
Bugsy 02 Feb 00 - 01:30 AM
Sorcha 02 Feb 00 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 02 Feb 00 - 02:15 AM
GUEST,Roberto 02 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 02 Feb 00 - 08:41 AM
Amos 02 Feb 00 - 08:55 AM
GeorgeH 02 Feb 00 - 09:01 AM
Bert 02 Feb 00 - 10:27 AM
Art Thieme 02 Feb 00 - 12:40 PM
Wesley S 02 Feb 00 - 12:59 PM
DougR 02 Feb 00 - 01:07 PM
Troll 02 Feb 00 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Arkie 02 Feb 00 - 02:10 PM
katlaughing 02 Feb 00 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 02 Feb 00 - 02:45 PM
katlaughing 02 Feb 00 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,falconet 02 Feb 00 - 03:39 PM
Amos 02 Feb 00 - 03:53 PM
Art Thieme 02 Feb 00 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 02 Feb 00 - 06:59 PM
katlaughing 02 Feb 00 - 08:28 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 02 Feb 00 - 09:16 PM
Sorcha 02 Feb 00 - 09:39 PM
BK 02 Feb 00 - 10:39 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 02 Feb 00 - 10:47 PM
Art Thieme 02 Feb 00 - 11:13 PM
Amos 02 Feb 00 - 11:49 PM
Uncle_DaveO 03 Feb 00 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Roberto 04 Feb 00 - 04:34 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 04 Feb 00 - 10:28 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 04 Feb 00 - 10:31 AM
Amos 04 Feb 00 - 11:21 AM
Doctor John 04 Feb 00 - 01:59 PM
katlaughing 06 Feb 00 - 01:18 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 06 Feb 00 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Roberto 07 Feb 00 - 03:23 AM
katlaughing 07 Feb 00 - 08:49 AM
Amos 07 Feb 00 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,Roberto 07 Feb 00 - 10:52 AM
Amos 07 Feb 00 - 11:06 AM
katlaughing 07 Feb 00 - 11:41 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 07 Feb 00 - 03:46 PM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Feb 00 - 07:14 PM
katlaughing 07 Feb 00 - 08:20 PM
Amos 07 Feb 00 - 08:34 PM
Metchosin 07 Feb 00 - 09:09 PM
GUEST,Terry 08 Feb 00 - 01:13 AM
sophocleese 08 Feb 00 - 07:49 AM
Troll 08 Feb 00 - 08:09 AM
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Subject: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 01:19 AM

I have wondered this for a long time, and I have gone back and searched the archives, no answer. Does anybody have any idea why Barbie refused to go see Sweet William on his death-bed? A "Child-Addicted" friend said she heard that it was because he bought all the other maids in the pub a round, but refused to buy her one. Any comments?


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Bugsy
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 01:30 AM

"Don't you remember in yonder town, the place where you were dwelling.

You gave the toast to the ladies all, and slighted Barbara Allan."

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

Cheers

bugsy


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 01:35 AM

Thanks, never seen that version. Nuff said. S


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 02:15 AM

As I remember the lyrics, she doesn't refuse to see him. She is just a bit laid-back about the visit and says something like, "Young man I think you're dying."

Murray


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Roberto
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM

"Barbara Allen" is more deep than it seems. The most interesting comment I've read was by Robert Graves, who thought she was a witch. That could explain Barbara Allen's laughter when she sees his corpse. In some versions, she cries, but in others, she wildly laughs. See, for instance, Martin Carthy's version, in his last CD, "Sign of Life", or Jean Redpath's, in "First Flight". When she comes to his death-bed, he shows her things that seem to be tokens ("a basin full of my heart's tears"; a golden watch etc), maybe to soothe her and make her stop the withcraft, that is making him die. It is Barbara Allen, it seems, the cause of Sweet William's misterious illness, but there is something more than just a romantic yearning. She takes her revenge (maybe because she was rejected or neglected, being of low social degree or something), although she knows that the same witchcraft may kill her too...I'LL TRY TO FIND THE COMPLETE ROBERT GRAVES' COMMENT, AND I'LL WRITE IT DOWN FOR YOU. Roberto


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 08:41 AM

Cause the Bastard never paid her mates. Arrghh. Yours,Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 08:55 AM

She had been slighted by him, she fancied. The dialog I learned to it (as mentioned above) goes:

"Do you recall, in yonder town, when the red wine was a -flowing?
You drank a health to the girls around
But slighted Bar'bra Ellen.

O, I recall, in yonder town, when the red wine was a-flowing.
I gave a health to the girls around, and my love to Bar'bra Ellen"

Had she been a witch, methinks, she would not have been so wholly converted when the bells began to knell.

That said, I have always thought her remarks to the young man were as cruel as young love could get.

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 09:01 AM

Indeed, Amos, it was all a tragic misunderstanding . . (as a modern spin-doctor might express it)! A very sad song.

G.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 10:27 AM

There's gotta be a song here!!!

PMS? - Headache? - Nothing to wear?


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 12:40 PM

Simple failure to communicate.

Art


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Wesley S
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 12:59 PM

This reminds me of Sir Strother Martin in "The Ballad of Lord Cool Hand Luke" who said " What we haveth herein is a falure to communicate"


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: DougR
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 01:07 PM

Art and Wesley have it right, I think, and Strother Martin's line in that movie is one of the best I've ever heard!

DougR


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Troll
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 01:21 PM

A failure to communicate! And all these years I thought he was an immature idiot who didn't have enough sense to tell her he loved her until she ran out of patience and decided that he had scorned he. And I thought she was just being bitchy and didn't think he would really die. Ah, the wonders of modern ballad analysis.

troll


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 02:10 PM

Barbara tired of Sweet William's whining and became infatuated by a suave chap named Ken. Only after Sweet Williams's fatal heartburst did she realize that she had besmirched her image as the ideal for all pre-teen girls everywhere in the western world and died of shame.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 02:14 PM

Hey, Art, what about in the Cowboy's Barbara Allen? I didn't hear any reasons giving in it? Just curious and STILL loving your rendition of it!

luvyaKat


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 02:45 PM

She rightly refused to submit to being emotionally blackmailed by a spoiled, childish jerk. The proper question is, "why did she fall for the community's narrow-minded characterization of her as the villainess ?"

T.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 03:00 PM

THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Bravo, Tákemus!

katlaughing&cheering!


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,falconet
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 03:39 PM

In the version I learned as a kid, it was not drinking but dancing that did it:

"Do you recall the other night, when we were all a-dancing? You gave your hand to the ladies all, and slighted Barbara Allen."

"Yes, I recall the other night, when we were all a-dancing; I gave my hand to the ladies all, and my heart to Barbara Allen."


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 03:53 PM

Well there you go. If the dumb kid had mentioned what he THOUGHT he was doing, the fine lass coulda taught him how to do it right!! No wonder she got ticked at him.

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 06:44 PM

Kat,

I left that verse out by mistake when I first recorded it in the '70s. Then I just got used to doing it without that verse. Such are the workings of the oral tradition.

I personally feel that Billy or William or Willy or whatever, once he realized the lights were going out for him, laid the whole thing on Barb 'cause he knew it'd create, promote and accelerate a humongous GUILT TRIP that'd put her into therapy for the rest of her life. Ah, sweet revenge.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 06:59 PM

The question is wrong. The earliest version of "Barbara Allen" is now in Scarce Songs 2 on my website (www.erols.com/olsonw)

Barbara Allen saw his on his death bed, but had never seen him before, and she didn't live in Scarlet town, he did, but he was obviously buried in the town where Barbara Allen lived, wherever that was! The two ballads preceeding "Barbara Allen" on my website are earlier and somewhat less silly versions of the same plot.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 08:28 PM

Art and Bruce, thanks for the *illumination*; love your ways of putting things! Bruce, I will be sure to go read those earlier. Just goes to show how fickle young love can be, eh? Art, I hope ya know the oral trad continues....Betty & I sang your version last summer at the Wyoming Culture Fest. Thankfully nobody asked this question then!**BG**

luvyakat


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 09:16 PM

There's no question that she came to him, but she was obviously reluctant to do so: "Slowly, slowly got she up/And slowly drew she nigh him..." I think we can assume her reluctance was motivated by the fact that William was such a wuss. How many of you women would be motivated to love a man who--because you had shown no interest--went to bed and determined to die? That was bad enough when Elaine of Astelot did it--a real man would just get drunk and write a song about it. As the lily maid would have done if she were woman enough.

--seed


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 09:39 PM

Thanks all, this has been very interesting. I appreciate the time you all took.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: BK
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 10:39 PM

Great notions; For the most part, I'm kinda w/Troll on this one; But I always think, tho, abt the line where he replies abt giving his "love" to Barbry Allen. In spite of this, he never explains his relationship to those other women... The equivalent of early Soap Opera??

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 10:47 PM

I have no comment, except that I loved this discussion--and am grateful in the extreme for Bruce and his kindred spirits who have spent so much time putting these wonderful texts out there to savor, to sing, and to discuss--

Wait, maybe I do have something--Barbara Allen or Ellen seems to be the most ubiquitous of folk songs, I even saw Daffy Duck singing it in a cartoon last week!!


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 11:13 PM

Church bells? No! Just cows doing their vocal best.

Heifer joke is better than none, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 00 - 11:49 PM

It gets worse heifer' time!


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 03 Feb 00 - 06:33 PM

No, in our culture the commonest folksong, I'm sure, is "Happy Birthday".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Roberto
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 04:34 AM

I've found Robert Graves' comment (it is in "English & Scottish Ballads", 1957: "It is clear enough that Sir John Graeme did not die merely of a broken heart. Like Clerk Colvill, he seems to have been a landowner who had an affair with a country girl, but later decided to marry a woman of his own class. When this marriage was announced, the girl avenged herself by bewitching him; the procedure being to model a wax image of the victim, make it more real by adding his own (stolen) hair-trimmings and nail-pairings, and then gradually waste it over a candle, sticking pins into parts that the witch wanted to injure most". I don't know whether Robert Graves is right or not, but somehow we must try to explain Barbara Allen's laughter when she sees his corpse and all the verses about the bloody shirts, the watch, the basin full of tears etc. I've chosen some of these verses from some of the most beautiful versions of the ballad I know:

From Martin Carthy's:

"O look at my bed-head", he cries,
"And there you'll find it ticking,
My gold watch and my gold chain
I bestow to you, my Ellen.

And look at my bed-foot", he cries,
And there you'll find them lyin',
My sheets and bloody shirts,
I sweat them for you, my Ellen."

She walked over yon garden field
She heard the dead-bell knelling
And every stroke that the dead-bell gave
It cried, "Woe be to you now, Ellen."

As she walked over the garden field
She saw his corpse a-comin',
"Lay down, lay down your weary load
Until I get to look upon him."

She lifted the lid from off the corpse,
She bursted out with laughin',
And all of his friends that stood round about
They cried, "Woe be to you now, Ellen."

From Sarah Makem's:

They lifted the lid up off the corpse.
She bursted out with laughing.
And all his wearied friends around cried,
"Hard-hearted Barbara Allen."

From Ewan MacColl's:

"Then pit your hand anienst the wa'
And there ye'll find a token,
Wi' my gold watch and my gold ring
Gie that tae Bawbee Allan.

"Then pit your hand anienst my side
An there ye'll find a warran'
An there ye'll get my blood-red sark
It bled for Bawbee Allan.

From Jean Redpath's:

"It's look ye up at my bed heid
And see what you'll find hangin',
A silver watch and a guinea gold chain
That hangs there for Barbarry Allan,
That hangs there for Barbarry Allan.

It's look ye down at my bedside
And see what you'll find sittin',
A basin full o' my heart's tears
That is there for Barbarry Allan,
That is there for Barbarry Allan."

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 27-Aug-02.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 10:28 AM

Dave,

Happy Birthday isn't a folksong--record it, and you must pay royalties!!


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 10:31 AM

Dave, Happy Birthday isn't a folksong--record it, and you must pay royalties!!


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 11:21 AM

Wow. I'm amazed at the erudition and value of Mudcat threads. This is a onderful additon to the dimensionsof the song, and I had never heard the witchery or the laughter bits before. Many thanks. What a long and interesting history this little tale has had!

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Doctor John
Date: 04 Feb 00 - 01:59 PM

Is "Scarlet Town" a pun for "Reading"? Dr John


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 01:18 AM

Just checked in an old gilt-edged book (no copyright date) we picked up back East, the title page of which reads:

The Chandos Poets
The
Legendary Ballads
of
England and Scotland
compiled and edited by
John S. Roberts
(Editor of the Crown Editions of Burns' Works)
with original illustrations and steel portrait.
London
Frederick Warne and Co.
Bedford Street, Covent Garden.
New York, Scribner, Welford and Co.

The author says, "I have collected Ramsay's version of this ballad with that in The Reliques. Professor Aytoun speaks of Percy's version as being inferior to Ramsay's. I must join issue with him here. Besides, he has not printed Ramsay's text faithfully: he makes the dead-bell toll instead of jow, a much less effective word under the circumstances."

As for the original question of this thread, I find no mention of other women in this version. In the particular verse, it seems he bought drinks for everyone but Barbara Allen:

"Remeber ye not in the tavern, sir,
Whan ye the cups were filan,
How ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allen?"

Ths thread has been fun and wonderful! Thanks!

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Feb 00 - 06:20 PM

One could interpret that verse as meaning that, while the "healths" ("to the health of....") were being said, he said something that slighted her--


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Roberto
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 03:23 AM

I've found another interesting comment, in the liner notes of the "The Child Ballads N.1", Topic, LP, by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy assisted by Shirley Collins, edited by A.L.Lloyd: "The story could not be simpler. A young man is dying of love. He calls for the girl and asks forgiveness and mercy. She scorns and leaves him and he dies. When she hears of his death, she dies of remorse-and in America,so does her mother. The most obvious interpretation here is the most cogent: that is,the revenge and subsequent guilt of a proud and probably frigid,or injured,woman,which would be felt in different ways by male and female listeners. This explanation fits the history of the sexual pattern in recent times in the English-speaking world. Robert Graves proposes an idea which may account for the origin of the song. He sees Barbara Allen as a witch who is killing a man by magic. He begs for mercy, but she persists in her cruelty and then,as often transpires in witch tales,is killed by her own wickedness. In this version,the offer of gifts to Barbara and the lines from Ireland that have her laughing when she sees the corpse suggest that Graves may be right."


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 08:49 AM

Interesting, Roberto, thanks for including it.

Does a woman have to be "frigid or injured" just because she doesn't want a particular man? I would suggest that it merely serves to assuage the man's embarrassment/pain on being rejected, as would the reference to her being a witch.

kat


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:14 AM

I don't consider being chilled by someone constitutes being "frigid or injured", but it seems that for some males it "has" to look that way; the alternative would be to introspect, which males in the Western tradition are incapable of.

Instead of insight, the effort produces contortions, clinical apathy, and an excessive dependency on potato chips and football players.:>)...it's a guy thing.

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Roberto
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 10:52 AM

The poor sentence about the frigid or injured woman in the comment by Alan Lomax and Pete Kennedy is not what I wanted to stress. I've quoted the comment because of its reference to Robert Graves' interpretation, that I consider very interesting. I think that Barbara Allen wouldn't have been for centuries so important among the folk songs of the English-speaking world were it just a ballad about a broken-hearted lover and an "Eros and Thanatos" tale. Roberto


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 11:06 AM

Roberto:

You are right, of course; Graves' interpretation is fascinating, as is the difference between the Irish, English and later American versions of the song.

I think the elegance of the tale, even only as a love story, is enough to explain it's survival. It has persisted in versions that have no reference to the witchcraft, or the laughing cruelly.

My sense is that it is an archetypal picture of hardheartedness in the face of love (whatever the reasons for it) and that the appeal of that image reaches anyone who has either experienced or engaged in that hardness.

In the final analysis, to my mind, the tale shows the tricky web that gets woven when humans choose not to communicate when they really have something important to say.

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 11:41 AM

From a woman's point of view, looking back from our times, I see it as surviving in popularity because it is about a woman who did not fall prey to conventions, although in the end she did pay for it with her life. Think of all the women who must've heard this and wished they'd had the wherewithal or gumption to refuse a suitor, even at the expense of their lives, than wind up in the lives they must've done.

But then, perhaps we take it all too seriously and it is just a heartwrenching ballad that makes everyone glad to hear it because of the depth of emotions etc. it portrays? I am just thinking out loud here, guys, forgive me?!

katwhoreallydoesliketosingthissong


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 03:46 PM

Just happened to be reading Bocaccio's Decameron, and the Eighth story, fourth night, struck and eerily familiar chord--

A young man (but sickly) from a wealthy family and the daughter of a tailor grow up in love with each other--his mother gets the executors of her husbands fortune to send the young man to Paris,on business (but really just to get him away from the girl).

He is there for several years, all the time pining away and thinking of nothing but the girl--.

He finally goes home, only to find her married to a tentmaker. He walks up and down in front of her house, but she either doesn't recognize him or pretends not to recognize him.

He sneaks into the house and when the husband falls asleep, he pops out and declares his love. She replies that he is the one who left and never wrote, so she married someone else. She then says that she intends to forget about him, and asks him to leave.

He realizes his love letters never reached her,and that, since she intends to forget him, he has no reason to continue living, and he dies. She is upset because, even though she is innocent, it looks pretty bad, what with another man being dead in a bed in her house--She decides to wake her husband and tell him the story, but pretend that it happened to someone else-- He laughs, and says that, of course, the woman is not to blame, at which point she says that she is glad thinks so,and shows him the dead man.

He picks the guy up and carries him back home, where he surreptitiously dumps him on the door step and takes off--Whereupon the body is discovered, and everyone is bewildered and scandalixed--

The couple are afraid that gossip might connect them with the death, so they disguise themselves, and go the the church to hear what people are saying. When she sees the body, she is suddenly overcome with long suppressed love, falls on the body, and dies--

At which point, the husband stands up, confesses the whole story, the assembled crowd agrees that it is all a tragic affair, and the two unfullfilled lovers are buried together--

The Decameron was written in about 1350, and there was a popular English translation published(I believe) before 1650, so it is not so far fetched to imagine that it was a source for balladeers--

At any rate, the whole text of the Decameron is here--search for the name "Silvestra" which is the name of the Barbara Allen-like maiden, and it will take you to the first line of the story(this is one of the greatest works of Western Literature, so if you haven't read it, it's worth checking outDecameron


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 07:14 PM

Over the years I've seen a number of Barbara Allen texts, and I've never in any of them seen anything I'd call suggestive of witchcraft. Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 08:20 PM

Well, you know, Dave, back then, any woman who chose to be independent was suspect. I guess maybe she was just lucky not to be burnt for the supposed transgression, eh? (Tongue in cheek.) Really excellent novel about that is The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge.

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 08:34 PM

Well, if I were looking for a bride I'd look, as I did last time, for one who was not only independent but was also smart enough not to get burned by flaming a-holes. I beleve there was a thread on that topic a while back (the flaming part, I mean).

A


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Metchosin
Date: 07 Feb 00 - 09:09 PM

I recall a documentary a number of years ago, regarding the position of women in society in the British Isles around the time of the intoduction of Cathoicism. If my memory serves me correctly, primogenature re: the eldest son, was not the dominant thought, as it was generally regarded among the Brits and Celts, that a father could not be certain if his son was truly his son, but the mother certainly knew.

As a consequence, women wielded considerable economic power and control of land. The Church, and other powers that be of the time, put considerable effort into divesting them of their power and the accusation of witchcraft was one of the methods. In fact there was a vote amongst a Synod of Bishops, or some such thing, around that time, to determine if women could be considered as beings in possession of a soul. The vote narrowly passed and only through support of Bishops from the far western fringes of Europe.

If anyone with a better memory or knowledge of history would care to add more, please do.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: GUEST,Terry
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 01:13 AM

When I first learned the song (approx 50 years ago) it said "Young Jemmy Grove on his death bed lay, for love of Barbara Allen" so on hearing Baez sing of Sweet William (which I know to be a flower) I just assumed it was an Americanisation. But with nearly 50 inputs to this thread and still no mention of poor Jemmy, maybe mine was a local version?


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: sophocleese
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 07:49 AM

Actually Terry you just reminded me that that is how I first heard it and when I sing it I use Jemmy Grove. I think I got the words years ago out of a book of folk songs for the recorder.


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Subject: RE: Why Did Barbara Allen Refuse?
From: Troll
Date: 08 Feb 00 - 08:09 AM

Barbry Allen was probably the first traditional song I ever learned. My Grandfather in the mountains of NC sang it and many other "old songs". I have sung the song for over 50 years and it remains one of my favorites. I always looked at it as a love story with a tragic ending. Having had a few blighted love affairs myself, I can sympathise with William to some extent but agree that he needed to get a life. Of coures if he had, we wouldn't have the song, so well done William and Barbry.

troll


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