Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Ballad of Barbara Allen


In Scarlet town, where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwelling,
Made every youth cry well-away!
Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swelling,
Young William on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man unto her then,
To the town, where she was dwelling;
“You must come to my master dear,
If your name be Barbara Allen.

“For death is printed on his face,
And ore his heart is stealing:
Then haste away to comfort him,
O lovely Barbara Allen.”

“Though death be printed on his face,
And ore his heart is stealing,
Yet little better shall he be,
For bonny Barbara Allen.”

So slowly, slowly, she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him;
And all she said, when there she came:
“Young man, I think you’re dying.”

He turned his face unto her straight,
With deadly sorrow sighing;
“O lovely maid, come pity me,
I’m on my death-bed lyin’.”

“If on your death-bed you do lie,
What needs the tale you’re telling?
I cannot keep you from your death;
Farewell,” said Barbara Allen.

He turned his face unto the wall,
As deadly pangs he fell in:
“Adieu! adieu! adieu to you all,
Adieu to Barbara Allen.”

As she was walking o’er the fields,
She heard the bell a knelling;
And every stroke did seem to say,
“Unworthy Barbara Allen.”

She turned her body round about,
And spied the corpse a coming:
“Lay down, lay down the corpse,” she said,
“That I may look upon him.”

With scornful eye she looked down,
Her cheek with laughter swelling;
That all her friends cried out amain,
“Unworthy Barbara Allen.”

When he was dead, and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow,
“O mother, mother, make my bed,
For I shall die tomorrow.“

Hard-hearted creature, him to slight,
Who loved me so dearly;
O that I had been more kind to him,
When he was live and near me!”

She, on her death-bed as she lay,
Begged to be buried by him;
And sore repented of the day
That she did ere deny him.

“Farewell,” she said, “ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.



*This is a 17th century Scottish ballad so it isn't the most terrifying thing in the world. But it's still a little unsettling. And you've got to love the lesson behind it: treat people as you want to be treated or you'll be worm food sooner rather than later.*

1 comment:

  1. That *is* unsettling. It reminds me of this Nick Cave album, Murder Ballads. I'd love to hear him sing this.

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