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Penguin: Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor


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??Who WAS the 'Brown Girl' (41)
ADD: The Brown Girl (Child #73 from Hedy West) (6)
Lyr Req: Lord Thomas & Fair Annie (Child #73) (25)
Lyr/Chords Add: Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender (4)

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Les Tristes Noces
Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)

Alan of Australia 19 Mar 00 - 12:36 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jul 00 - 10:29 PM
MMario 18 Jul 00 - 10:30 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM
Alan of Australia 20 Jul 00 - 12:59 AM
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Subject: Penguin: Lord Thomas And Fair Eleanor ^^
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 19 Mar 00 - 12:36 AM

From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's rendition of the tune of Lord Thomas And Fair Eleanor (Child #73) can be found here.


Lord Thomas he was a bold forester,
The chasener of the King's deer.
Fair Eleanor she was a fair woman;
Lord Thomas he loved her dear.

'Oh riddle, Oh riddle, dear mother,' he said,
'Oh riddle it both as one,
Whether I shall marry fair Ellen or not,
And leave the brown girl alone?'

'The brown girl she've a-got houses and land,
Fair Ellen she've a-got none,
Therefore I charge thee to my blessing
To bring the brown girl home.'

Lord Thomas he went to fair Eleanor's tower.
He knocked so loud on the ring.
There was none so ready as fair Eleanor's self
To let Lord Thomas in.

'What news, what news, Lord Thomas?' she said,
'What news have you brought to me?'
'I've come to invite thee to my wedding
Beneath the sycamore tree.'

'O God forbid, Lord Thomas,' she said,
'That any such thing should be done.
I thought to have been the bride myself,
And you to have been the groom.'

'Oh riddle, Oh riddle, dear mother,' she said,
'Oh riddle it both as one,
Whether I go to Lord Thomas's wedding,
Or better I stay at home?'

'There's a hundred of thy friends, dear child,
A hundred of thy foes,
Therefore I beg thee with all my blessing
To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go.'

But she dressed herself in her best attire,
Her merry men all in green,
And every town that she went through,
They thought she was some queen.

Lord Thomas he took her by the hand,
He led her through the hall,
And he sat her down in the noblest chair
Among the ladies all.

'Is this your bride, Lord Thomas ?'she says.
'I'm sure she looks wonderful brown,
When you used to have the fairest young lady
That ever the sun shone on.'

'Despise her not,' Lord Thomas he said,
'Despise her not unto me.
For more do I love your little finger
Than all her whole body.'

This brown girl she had a little pen-knife
Which was both long and sharp.
And betwixt the long ribs and the short
She pricked fair Eleanor's heart.

'Oh, what is the matter?' Lord Thomas he said.
'Oh, can you not very well see?
Can you not see my own heart's blood
Come trickling down my knee?'

Lord Thomas's sword is hung by his side,
As he walked up and down the hall,
And he took off the brown girl's head from her shoulders,
And he flung it against the wall.

He put the handle to the ground,
The sword into his heart.
No sooner did three lovers meet,
No sooner did they part.

Lord Thornas was buried in the church,
Fair Eleanor in the choir,
And out of her bosom there grew a red rose,
And out of Lord Thomas a briar.

And it grew till it reached the church steeple top.
Where it could grow no higher,
And there it entwined like a true lover's knot
For all true loves to admire.

Sung by Mrs Pond, Shepton Beauchamp, Som. (C.J.S. 1904)

Also search the DT for #73.

Previous song: Long Lankin.
Next Song: Lovely Joan.

Alan ^^

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Subject: RE: Penguin: Lord Thomas And Fair Eleanor
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:29 PM

From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):

"The theme of this ballad is banal enough: a triangular love-affair that ends in the death of all three lovers.  It is the characters that hold the imagination -weak, fickle Lord Thomas, haughty, fair Eleanor, and the dark, vengeful bride with the dagger hidden in her wedding dress.  During this century the ballad has quite frequently been found over an area bounded by Devon, Hertfordshire, Hereford and Staffordshire.  Also several Scottish sets are known.  It is interesting that most of the English versions, and all the numerous American ones, obviously derive from a broadside text published during the reign of Charles II and often reprinted.  Scholars incline to consider oral transmission to be almost a sine qua non of folk song diffusion, but ballads such as this remind us that word-of-mouth is far from being the only way in which folk songs have been traditionally passed on.  In Scotland this ballad is sometimes called Fair Annet.  It must be said that some of the Scottish oral versions hold beauties lacking in the texts under influence of print: such, for instance, as this embellishment to the description of Annet's grand journey to Lord Thomas's wedding:

There were four and twenty gray goshawks
A-flaffin their wings sae wide,
To flaff the stour* fra aff the road
That fair Annie did ride.

*(Stour= Dust, or a cloud of dust)

In the version of the text printed here, Mrs. Pond's words have been expanded from versions collected by Hammond from Mrs. Rowell, of Taunton, Somerset, in 1905 (FSJ vol.II, p.105) and by Sharp from Mrs. Cockram, of Meshaw, Devon, in 1904 (FSJ vol.II, p.107).  Other versions have been found in oral tradition in Hampshire (FSJ vol.II, p.106), Somerset (FSJ vol.II, p.109), Hertfordshire (FSJ vol.V, pp.130-1), Staffordshire (English Folk Songs, ed. C. Sharp, 1921, p.651), and Gloucestershire (Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, ed. Alfred Williams, 1923, pp.135-7). Kidson (Traditional Tunes, 1891, p.40) reports a Yorkshire version with words from a broadside of c.1740. "  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

This version was collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Pond of Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, in 1904, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.II, p.107.

Other versions on the DT:

Lord Thomas

Lord Thomas and Fair Elender (The Brown Girl)

Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender

In the Forum:

Lord Thomas and Fair Annie

Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender  (with guitar chords but no tune)

Who WAS The Brown Girl?  (Discussion)

Child #73
@marriage @murder @love @family @suicide

There is a version at Lesley Nelson's  Child Ballads  site:

Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor

There is an entry at  The Traditional Ballad Index:

Lord Thomas and Fair Annet

There are quite a few broadside copies, showing little textual variation over 150 years or so, at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads.  Of those in legible state, these are perhaps the most interesting:

A Tragical Story of Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor  Printed in 1677 "for F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright and J. Clarke, 1677. License note: This may be Printed, Dec. 13, 1676, Ro. L'Estrange".

Lord Thomas and fair Eleanor, with the downfal of the brown girl  Printed between 1761 and 1788 by Thomas Saint, Newcastle upon Tyne.

A tragical ballad of the unfortunate loves of lord Thomas and fair Eleanor; together with the downfall of the Brown girl  Printed between 1780 and 1812 by J. Evans, No. 41, Long-Lane, London.

A tragical ballad of the unfortunate love's of lord Thomas and fair Eleanor  Printed between 1802 and 1819 by J. Pitts, No. 14, Great St. Andrew- Street, Seven-Dials, London.

Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor with the Downfal of the Brown Girl  Printed in 1811 by Thos. Evans, 79 Long Lane Wt., Smithfield, London.

Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor  Printed between 1813 and 1838 by J. Catnach, Printer, 2, Monmouth Court, 7 Dials, London.

These are large images.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Lord Thomas And Fair Eleanor
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:30 PM

Malcolm, love what you are doing. A great addition.

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From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM

Thankyou!  It started off as a small cross-referencing thing, but seems to be getting bigger.  Anyhow, with luck some people will find it useful, and I must thank Ed Pellow and Alan of Oz for doing the basic work that I'm just adding to.  And now, here's some more:

  Analogues of this story appear in the traditions of a number of other countries; here is a French one.  I have not attempted to make a singable translation, but it shouldn't be very difficult for anyone with a reasonable grasp of the idiom:


Qui veut ouïr chanson, chansonette nouvelle,
Chante rossignolet!
Qui veut ouïr chanson, chansonette nouvelle?

 Who wants to hear a song, a new little song,
 Sing, little nightingale!
 Who wants to hear a song, a new little song?

C'est d'une jeune garçon et d'une demoiselle.

 It's of a young man and a maiden.

Ont fait l'amour sept ans, sept ans sans en rien dire.

 Seven years they loved each other, seven years and no word said.

Mais au bout de sept ans, le galant se marie.

 But at the end of seven years, the gallant young man is to be married.

"Au jardin de ma mère, 'y a un buisson d'orties."

 "In my mother's garden, there is a clump of nettles."

En a fait un bouquet pour porter à s'amie:

 He has made a bouquet of them, to take to his love:

"Tenez, m'amie, tenez; voici la départie.

 "Take (these), love, take (them); this is the (sign of) parting.

A une autre que vous, mon père me marie."

 My father is marrying me to another."

"Celle que vous prenez, est-elle bien jolie?"

 "She who you are taking, is she pretty?"

"Pas si jolie que vous, mais elle est bien plus riche."

 "Not so pretty as you; but she is far more rich.

La belle, en vous priant, viendrez-vous à mes noces?"

 "Fair one, I pray you, will you come to my wedding?"

"Aux noces n'irai pas, mais j'irai à la danse."

 "I will not go to the wedding, but I will go to the dance."

"La belle, s'ous venez, venez-y donc bien propre."

 "Fair one, if you come, be sure and look your best."

La belle n'y a manqué,s'est fait faire trois robes:

 The fair maid did not fail in this; she had three dresses made:

L'une de satin blanc, l'autre de satin rose,

 One of white satin, another of pink satin,

Et l'autre de drap d'or, pour marquer qu'elle est de noble.

 And the other of cloth-of-gold, to show that she was of noble kin.

Du plus loin qu'on la voit: "Voici la marieé!"

 As soon as they saw her, (the people said): "Here is the Bride!"

"La marieé ne suis; Je suis la délaissée."

 "I am not the Bride; I am the forsaken one."

L'amant qui la salue, la prend par sa main blanche,

 Her love greeted her, took her by her white hand,

La prend pour faire un tour, un petit tour de danse:

 Took her to take a turn, a little turn at the dance:

"Beau musicien français, toi qui joues bien les danses,

 "You fine French musician, who plays the dances well,

Oh! joue moi-z-en donc une, que ma mie puisse la comprendre."

 Oh! play me one, then, that my love may understand it."

Au première tour qu'elle fait, la belle tombe morte:

 The first turn that she took, the fair maid has fallen dead:

"Oh belle, levez-vous; voulez-vous mourir par force?

 "Oh fair one, get up; would you die perforce?

Si mourez pour m'amour, moi, je meurs pour la vôtre!"

 If you die for love of me, then I shall die for love of you!"

Il a pri son couteau, se le plante en les côtes.

 He has taken his knife, and plunged it into his side.

Les gens s'en vont disant: "Grand Dieu, les tristes noces!"

 The people went away, saying "Great God, how sad a wedding!

O les pauvres enfants, tous deux morts d'amourette!"

 O the poor children, both died for love!"

Sur la tombe du garçon, on y mit une épine;

 On the young man's tomb they planted a thorn;

Sur la tombe de la belle, on y mit une olive:

 On the fair maid's tomb, they planted an olive:

L'olive crut si haut qu'elle embrassa l'épine.

 The olive grew so high that it embraced the thorn.

This from Le Livre Des Chansons, ed. Henri Davenson (Cahiers du Rhône, 1955)

Davenson gives no information as to the source of the text, beyond suggesting that it may go back to the 17th. century; the rather fine tune (a midi of which goes to the Mudcat Midi Site) is from the Franche Comté.  This version was recorded by Malicorne on their album Almanach.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Lord Thomas And Fair Eleanor
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 12:59 AM

Thanks to Malcolm the tune for "Les Tristes Noces" can be found here at the Mudcat MIDI site.


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