Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sing a Song in Martinmas Time

In honor of St. Martin's Day, a traditional ballad:

Bonny Barbara Allan

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.

He sent his men down through the town,

To the place where she was dwelling:

“O haste and come to my master dear,

Gin ye be Barbara Allan.”

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.”

“O it’s I’m sick, and very, very sick,

And it's a’ for Barbara Allan:”

“O the better for me ye’s never be,

Though your heart’s blood were a spilling.

“O dinna ye mind, young man,” said she,

“When the red wine ye were fillin',

That ye made the healths gae round and round,

And slighted Barbara Allan?”

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.”

And slowly, slowly raise she up,

And slowly, slowly left him,

And sighing said, she could not stay,

Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but twa,

When she heard the dead-bell ringing,

And every jow that the dead-bell gied,

It cried, Woe to Barbara Allan!

“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.”

They buried her in the old churchyard,

And Sir John's grave was nigh her.

And from his heart grew a red, red rose,

And from her heart a brier.

They grew to the top o' the old church wall,

Till they could grow no higher,

Until they tied a true love's knot--

The red rose and the brier.


elena maria vidal said...

Oh, how beautiful, I had no idea it was a St. Martin's song!

Wendy Haught said...

There are some versions that say "in the merry, merry month of May," but our Adventures in English Literature book says that the version I quoted is "considered as close to the original Scottish story as any others that are known."

elena maria vidal said...

Fascinating! I love old Scottish songs and tales.