Tuesday, October 31, 2023

"Bonny Barbara Allan," anonymous ballad



1  IT was in and about the Martinmas time,
       When the green leaves were a falling,
    That Sir John Græme, in the West Country,
       Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

2  He sent his man down through the town,
       To the place where she was dwelling:
    ‘O haste and come to my master dear,
       Gin ye be Barbara Allan.’

3  O hooly, hooly rose she up,
       To the place where he was lying,
    And when she drew the curtain by,
       ‘Young man, I think you’re dying.’

4  ‘O it’s I’m sick, and very, very sick,
       And ’tis a’ for Barbara Allan:’
    ‘O the better for me ye’s never be,
       Tho your heart’s blood were a spilling.

5  ‘O dinna ye mind, young man,’ said she,
       ‘When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
    That ye made the healths gae round and round,
       And slighted Barbara Allan?’

6  He turned his face unto the wall,
       And death was with him dealing:
    ‘Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
       And be kind to Barbara Allan.’

7  And slowly, slowly raise she up,
       And slowly, slowly left him,
    And sighing said, she coud not stay,
       Since death of life had reft him.

8  She had not gane a mile but twa,
       When she heard the dead-bell ringing,
    And every jow that the dead-bell geid,
       It cry’d, Woe to Barbara Allan!

9  ‘O mother, mother, make my bed!
       O make it saft and narrow!
    Since my love died for me to-day,
       I’ll die for him to-morrow.’

Source of the text - The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited by Francis James Child, Volume II, Part II.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1886, pages 276-277.

TJB: She loves him not, she loves him. Understatement, rhythm, & repetition-doublets are pure, pure ballad in this tale of love spurned then regretted.

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