Child's Ballads/20

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
The Cruel Mother, no. 20
For more information, see Wikipedia: The Cruel Mother.

A[edit]

  • * * *

AND there she's leand her back to a thorn,
      Refrain:Oh and alelladay, oh and alelladay
And there she has her baby born.
      Refrain:Ten thousand times good night and be wi thee

She has houked a grave ayont the sun,
And there she has buried the sweet babe in.

And she's gane back to her father's ha,
She's counted the leelest maid o them a'.

  • * * * *


"O look not sae sweet, my bonie babe,
Gin ye smyle sae, ye'll smyle me dead."

  • * * * *

B[edit]

SHE sat down below a thorn,
      Refrain:Fine flowers in the valley
And there she has her sweet babe born.
      Refrain:And the green leaves they grow rarely

"Smile na sae sweet, my bonie babe,
And ye smile sae sweet, ye'll smile me dead."

She's taen out her little pen-knife,
And twinnd the sweet babe o its life.

She's howket a grave by the light o the moon,
And there she's buried her sweet babe in.

As she was going to the church,
She saw a sweet babe in the porch.

"O sweet babe, and thou were mine,
I wad cleed thee in the silk so fine."

"O mother dear, when I was thine,
You did na prove to me sae kind."

  • * * * *

C[edit]

SHE leaned her back unto a thorn,
      Refrain:Three, three, and three by three
And there she has her two babes born.
      Refrain:Three, three, and thirty-three

She took frae 'bout her ribbon-belt,
And there she bound them hand and foot.

She has taen out her wee pen-knife,
And there she ended baith their life.

She has howked a hole baith deep and wide,
She has put them in baith side by side.

She has covered them oer wi a marble stane,
Thinking she would gang maiden hame.

As she was walking by her father's castle wa,
She saw twa pretty babes playing at the ba.

"O bonnie babes, gin ye were mine,
I would dress you up in satin fine.

"O I would dress you in the silk,
And wash you ay in morning milk."

"O cruel mother, we were thine,
And thou made us to wear the twine.

"O cursed mother, heaven's high,
And that's where thou will neer win nigh.

"O cursed mother, hell is deep,
And there thou'll enter step by step."

D[edit]

THERE lies a lady in London,
      Refrain:All alone and alone ee
She's gane wi bairn to the clerk's son.
      Refrain:Down by the green wood sae bonnie

She's taen her mantle her about,
She's gane aff to the gude green wood.

She's set her back untill an oak,
First it bowed and then it broke.

She's set her back untill a tree,
Bonny were the twa boys she did bear.

But she took out a little pen-knife,
And she parted them and their sweet life.

She's aff untill her father's ha;
She was the lealest maiden that was amang them a'.

As she lookit oure the castle wa,
She spied twa bonnie boys playing at the ba.

"O if these two babes were mine,
They should wear the silk and the sabelline!"

"O mother dear, when we were thine,
We neither wore the silks nor the sabelline.

"But out ye took a little pen-knife,
And ye parted us and our sweet life.

"But now we're in the heavens hie,
And ye've the pains o hell to drie."

E[edit]

THERE was a lady, she lived in Lurk,
      Refrain:Sing hey alone and alonie O
She fell in love with her father's clerk.
      Refrain:Down by yon greenwood sidie O

She loved him seven years and a day,
Till her big belly did her betray.

She leaned her back unto a tree,
And there began her sad misery.

She set her foot unto a thorn,
And there she got her two babes born.

She took out her wee pen-knife,
She twind them both of their sweet life.

She took the sattins was on her head,
She rolled them in both when they were dead.

She howkit a grave forenent the sun,
And there she buried her twa babes in.

As she was walking thro her father's ha,
She spied twa boys playing at the ba.

"O pretty boys, if ye were mine,
I would dress ye both in the silks so fine."

"O mother dear, when we were thine,
Thou neer dressed us in the silks so fine.

"For thou was a lady, thou livd in Lurk,
And thou fell in love with thy father's clerk.

"Thou loved him seven years and a day,
Till thy big belly did thee betray.

"Thou leaned thy back unto a tree,
And there began thy sad misery.

"Thou set thy foot unto a thorn,
And there thou got thy two babes born.

"Thou took out thy wee pen-knife,
And twind us both of our sweet life.

"Thou took the sattins was on thy head,
Thou rolled us both in when we were dead.

"Thou howkit a grave forenent the sun,
And there thou buried thy twa babes in.

"But now we're both in [the] heavens hie,
There is pardon for us, but none for thee."

"My pretty boys, beg pardon for me!"
"There is pardon for us, but none for thee."

F[edit]

IT fell ance upon a day,
      Refrain:Edinburgh, Edinburgh
It fell ance upon a day,
      Refrain:Stirling for aye
It fell ance upon a day
The clerk and lady went to play.
      Refrain:So proper Saint Johnston stands fair upon Tay

"If my baby be a son,
I'll make him a lord of high renown."

She's leand her back to the wa,
Prayd that her pains might fa.

She's leand her back to the thorn,
There was her baby born.

"O bonny baby, if ye suck sair,
You'll never suck by my side mair."

She's riven the muslin frae her head,
Tied the baby hand and feet.

Out she took her little pen-knife,
Twind the young thing o its sweet life.

She's howked a hole anent the meen,
There laid her sweet baby in.

She had her to her father's ha,
She was the meekest maid amang them a'.

It fell ance upon a day,
She saw twa babies at their play.

"O bonny babies, gin ye were mine,
I'd cleathe you in the silks sae fine."

"O wild mother, when we were thine,
You cleathd us not in silks so fine.

"But now we're in the heavens high,
And you've the pains o hell to try."

She threw hersell oer the castle-wa,
There I wat she got a fa.

G[edit]

THERE was a lady lived on [a] lea,
      Refrain:All alone, alone O
Down by the greenwood side went she.
      Refrain:Down the greenwood side O

She set her foot all on a thorn,
There she had two babies born.

O she had nothing to lap them in,
But a white appurn, and that was thin.

H[edit]

THERE was a lady brisk and smart,
      Refrain:All in a lone and a lonie O
And she goes with child to her father's clark.
      Refrain:Down by the greenwood sidie O

Big, big oh she went away,
And then she set her foot to a tree.

Big she set her foot to a stone,
Till her three bonnie babes were borne.

She took the ribbons off her head,
She tied the little babes hand and feet.

She howkit a hole before the sun,
She's laid these three bonnie babes in.

She covered them over with marble stone,
For dukes and lords to walk upon.

She lookit over her father's castle wa,
She saw three bonnie boys playing at the ba.

The first o them was clad in red,
To shew the innocence of their blood.

The neist o them was clad in green,
To shew that death they had been in.

The next was naked to the skin,
To shew they were murderd when they were born,

"O bonnie babes, an ye were mine,
I wad dress you in the satins so fine."

"O mother dear, when we were thine,
Thou did not use us half so kind."

"O bonnie babes, an ye be mine,
Whare hae ye been a' this time?"

"We were at our father's house,
Preparing a place for thee and us."

"Whaten a place hae ye prepar'd for me?"
"Heaven's for us, but hell's for thee.

"O mother dear, but heaven's high;
That is the place thou'll ne'er come nigh.

"O mother dear, but hell is deep;
'Twill cause thee bitterlie to weep."

I[edit]

THE minister's daughter of New York,
      Refrain:Hey wi the rose and the lindie, O
Has faen in love wi her father's clerk.
      Refrain:Alone by the green burn sidie, O

She courted him six years and a day,
At length her belly did her betray.

She did her down to the greenwood gang,
To spend awa a while o her time.

She lent her back unto a thorn,
And she's got her twa bonny boys born.

She's taen the ribbons frae her hair,
Bound their bodyes fast and sair.

She's put them aneath a marble stane,
Thinking a maiden to gae hame.

Looking oer her castle wa,
She spied her bonny boys at the ba.

"O bonny babies, if ye were mine,
I woud feed you with the white bread and wine.

"I woud feed you wi the ferra cow's milk,
And dress you in the finest silk."

"O cruel mother, when we were thine,
We saw none of your bread and wine.

"We saw none of your ferra cow's milk,
Nor wore we of your finest silk."

"O bonny babies, can ye tell me,
What sort of death for you I must die?"

"Yes, cruel mother, we'll tell to thee,
What sort of death for us you must die.

"Seven years a fowl in the woods,
Seven years a fish in the floods.

"Seven years to be a church bell,
Seven years a porter in hell."

"Welcome, welcome, fowl in the wood[s],
Welcome, welcome, fish in the flood[s].

"Welcome, welcome, to be a church bell,
But heavens keep me out of hell."

J[edit]

SHE leant her back against a thorn,
      Refrain:Hey for the Rose o' Malindie O
And there she has twa bonnie babes born.
      Refrain:Adoon by the green wood sidie O

She's taen the ribbon frae her head,
An hankit their necks till they waur dead.

She luikit outowre her castle wa,
An saw twa nakit boys, playin at the ba.

"O bonnie boys, waur ye but mine,
I wald feed ye wi flour-bread an wine."

"O fause mother, whan we waur thine,
Ye didna feed us wi flour-bread an wine."

"O bonnie boys, gif ye waur mine,
I wald clied ye wi silk sae fine."

"O fause mother, whan we waur thine,
You didna clied us in silk sae fine.

"Ye tuik the ribbon aff your head,
An' hankit our necks till we waur dead.

  • * * * *


"Ye sall be seven years bird on the tree,
Ye sall be seven years fish i the sea.

"Ye sall be seven years eel i the pule,
An ye sall be seven years doon into hell."

"Welcome, welcome, bird on the tree,
Welcome, welcome, fish i the sea.

"Welcome, welcome, eel i the pule,
But oh for gudesake, keep me frae hell!"

K[edit]

LADY MARGARET looked oer the castle wa,
      Refrain:Hey and a lo and a lilly O
And she saw twa bonnie babes playing at the ba.
      Refrain:Down by the green wood sidy O

"O pretty babes, an ye were mine,
I would dress you in the silks so fine."

"O false mother, when we were thine,
Ye did not dress us in silks so fine."

"O bonnie babes, an ye were mine,
I would feed you on the bread and wine."

"O false mother, when we were thine,
Ye did not feed us on the bread and the wine."

  • * * * *


"Seven years a fish in the sea,
And seven years a bird in the tree.

"Seven years to ring a bell,
And seven years porter in hell."

L[edit]

A LADY lookd out at a castle wa,
      Refrain:Fine flowers in the valley
She saw twa bonnie babes playing at the ba.
      Refrain:And the green leaves they grow rarely

"O my bonnie babes, an ye were mine,
I would cleed ye i the scarlet sae fine.

"I'd lay ye saft in beds o down,
And watch ye morning, night and noon."

"O mither dear, when we were thine,
Ye didna cleed us i the scarlet sae fine.

"But ye took out yere little pen-knife,
And parted us frae our sweet life.

"Ye howkit a hole aneath the moon,
And there ye laid our bodies down.

"Ye happit the hole wi mossy stanes,
And there ye left our wee bit banes.

"But ye ken weel, O mither dear,
Ye never cam that gate for fear."

  • * * * *


"Seven lang years ye'll ring the bell,
And see sic sights as ye darna tell."

M[edit]

"O mother dear, when we were thine,
      Refrain:All a lee and aloney O
You neither dressed us in coarse or fine."
      Refrain:Down by the greenwood sidy O

N[edit]

As I lookit oer my father's castle wa,
      Refrain:All alone and alone O

I saw two pretty babes playing at the ba.
      Refrain:Down by yon green-wood sidie

"O pretty babes, gin ye were mine,"
      Refrain:Hey the loch o the Loanie

"I would clead ye o the silk sae fine."
      Refrain:Down by that green-wood sidie

"O sweet darlings, gin ye were mine,"
      Refrain:Hey the loch o the Loanie

"I would feed ye on the morning's milk."
      Refrain:Down by the green-wood sidie

"O mither dear, when we were thine,"
      Refrain:By the lock o the Loanie

"Ye neither dressd us wi silk nor twine."
      Refrain:Down by this green-wood sidie

"But ye tuke out your little pen-knife,"
      Refrain:By, etc.

"And there ye tuke yer little babes' life."
      Refrain:Down by the, etc.

"O mither dear, when this ye had done,"
      Refrain:Alone by, etc.

"Ye unkirtled yersel, and ye wrapt us in 't."
      Refrain:Down by the, etc.

"Neist ye houkit a hole fornent the seen."
      Refrain:All alone and alone O

"And tearless ye stappit your little babes in'
      Refrain:Down by the, etc.

"But we are in the heavens high,"
      Refrain:And far frae the loch o the Loanie

"But ye hae the pains o hell to d[r]ie."
      Refrain:Before ye leave the green-wood sidie

N2[edit]

There was a duke's daughter lived at York,
      Refrain:All alone and alone a

And she fell in love with her father's clarke.
      Refrain:Down by the greenwood side a, side a,
Down, etc.

She loved him seven long years and a day,
Till at last she came big-bellied away.

She set her back against a thorn,
And there she had two pretty babes born.

She took out a penknife long and short,
And she pierc'd these pretty babes to the tender heart.

So as she was walking in her father's hall,
She saw three pretty babes playing at ball.

The one was clothed in purple, the other in pall,
And the other was cloathed in no cloths at all.

"O pretty babes, pretty babes, will you be mine?
You shall be clothed in scarlet so fine,
And ye shall drink ale, beer, and wine."

"We are three angels, as other angels be,
And the hotest place in hell is reserved for thee."

O[edit]

There was a duke's daughter lived in York,
      Refrain:Come bend and bear away the bows of yew

So secretly she loved her father's clark.
      Refrain:Gentle hearts, be to me true.

She loved him long and many a day,
Till big with child she went away.

She went into the wide wilderness;
Poor she was to be pitied for heaviness.

She leant her back against a tree,
And there she endurd much misery.

She leant her back against an oak,
With bitter sighs these words she spoke.

She set her foot against a thorne,
And there she had two pretty babes born.

She took her filliting off her head,
And there she ty'd them hand and leg.

She had a penknife long [and] sharp,
And there she stuck them to the heart.

She dug a grave, it was long and deep,
And there she laid them in to sleep.

The coldest earth it was their bed,
The green grass was their coverlid.

As she was a going by her father's hall,
She see three children a playing at ball.

One was drest in scarlet fine,
And the other[s was naked] as ere they was born.

"O mother, O mother, if these children was mine,
I wold dress them [in] scarlet fine."

"O mother, O mother, when we was thine,
You did not dress [us] in scarlet fine.

"You set your back against a tree,
And there you endured great misery.

"You set your foot against a thorne,
And there you had us pritty babes born.

"You took your filliting off your head,
And there you bound us, hand to leg.

"You had a penknife long and sharp,
And there you stuck us to the heart.

"You dug a grave, it was long and deep,
And there you laid us in to sleep.

The coldest earth it was our bed,
The green grass was our coverlid.

"O mother, mother, for your sin
Heaven-gate you shall not enter in.

"O mother, mother, for your sin
Hell-gates stands open to let you in."

The lady's cheeks lookd pale and wan,
"Alass I," said she, "have I done!"

She tore her silken locks of hair,
And dy'd away in sad despair.

Young ladies all, of beauty bright,
Take warning by her last good-night.

Q[edit]

There was a lady, a lady of York,
      Refrain:Ri fol i diddle i gee wo

She fell a-courting in her own father's park.
      Refrain:Down by the greenwood side, O

She leaned her back against the stile,
There she had two pretty babes born.

And she had nothing to lap 'em in,
But she had a penknife sharp and keen.

. . . . . . . . .
There she stabbed them right through the heart.

She wiped the penknife in the sludge;
The more she wiped it, the more the blood showed.

As she was walking in her own father's park,
She saw two pretty babes playing with a ball.

"Pretty babes, pretty babes, if you were mine,
I'd dress you up in silks so fine."

"Dear mother, dear mother, [when we were thine,]
You dressed us not in silks so fine.

"Here we go to the heavens so high,
You'll go to bad when you do die."