MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Lady Margaret

Performed by Mike Kent Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 10 Track 2 and Tape 10A Track 6
Community: Cape Broyle Audio: Version I; Version II
Genre: Child ballad Child 74 ("Fair Margaret and Sweet William")

Transcription

Version I

Lady Margaret was sitting in her own lone home,
That was built of lime and stone,
Lady Margaret was sitting in her own lone home,
When she heard a dead man moan.

"Is it my father," Lady Margaret cried,
"Or is it my brother John,
Or is it my own true love Knight Willie,
From Scotland late has come.

"Did you bring to me any token of love,
Did you bring to me any ring,
Did you bring to me any token at all,
That a true love ought to bring?"

"I have brought to you no token of love,
Or I brought to you no ring,
But I brought to you my white winding sheet
That, my body was buried in."

"Oh where is this fine yellow hair,
That once you used to wear?"
"If you were dead as long as me,
Your hair would be just the same."

She took her underskirts one by one,
Just about her knee,
And over the hills on a cold winter's night,
Keeping a dead man's company.

She took a cross out from of her bosom,
And she smoted him on the breast,
Saying, "Here's a token for you Knight Willie,
God grant you a happy night's rest."

"I am thankful to you Lady Margaret," he cries,
"I am thankful unto you,
If the dead are bound to pray for the living,
Then I'm bound to pray for you."

Version II

Female voice: (speaks) You do that?

(speaks): What?

Female voice: You do all "Lady Margaret"?

(speaks): What?

Leach (speaks) : You do all "Lady Margaret"? Alright you're gonna sing just one verse?

(speaks): What? .

Leach (speaks): Just one verse

(speaks): Oh, just the one verse . wait now till I see where to

Leach: Well do you want .

Lady Margaret was sitting in her own lone home,
That was built of lime and stone,
Lady Margaret was sitting in her own lone home,
When she heard a dead man's moan.

"Is it my father," Lady Margaret cries,
"Or is it my brother John,
Or is it my own true loved Knight Willie,
From Scotland late has come?

"Did you bring to me any token of love,
Did you bring to me any ring,
Did you bring to me any token at all,
That a true love ought to bring?"

I have brought to you no token of love
Or I brought to you no ring,
But I brought to you my white winding sheet,
That my boy was buried in."

"Oh, where is the fine yellow hair,
That once you used to wear?"
"If you were dead as long as me,
Your hair would be just the same."

She took her underskirts one by one,
Just about her knee,
And over the hills on a cold winter's night,
Keeping a dead man's company.

They walked and they talked,
Walked and they talked till the cocks began to crow,
"It's time for the dead and the living to part,
Lady Margaret I must go."

"Is there any room at your head," she said,
"Is there any room at your feet,
Is there any room about you at all
Where I may take a sleep?"

"My father's at my head," he said,
"And my mother is at my feet,
And there's three hellhounds about my side,
Where my poor soul should be.

"One is for my drunkenness,
And the other is for my pride,
And the other is the loving of a fair pretty maid,
And staying out late by night."

She took a cross all from her bosom,
And she smoted him on the breast,
Saying, "Here's a token for you Knight Willie,
God grant you a happy night's rest."

"I'm thankful to you Lady Margaret he said,
"I am thankful unto you,
If the dead were bound to pay for the living,
Then I am bound to pray for you."

Female voice: That's all of it is it ?

(speaks): Yeah got all of it


Notes

Sources: Child ballad #74; Mercer 143 ("Sweet William's Ghost"); Peacock, 390-95, publishes six versions. Recorded on Songs of the Newfoundland Outports and Labrador   (2003). See http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html for a long list of other variants. Roud 253.

History: This ballad may emanate from Scandinavia; in Denmark it is known as "Faestemanden I Graven" and in Sweden as "Sorgens Magt." Peacock also notes a similar German ballad, "Der Todte Freier" (Peacock 392). It   dates to the early 17 th century and was disseminated on broadsides since the late 17 th .   It was rewritten, possibly by David Mallet, in a literary style in some 18 th century sources, used in various vernacular theatre productions, and adapted to a tune known as "Montrose's Lilt."

Text notes: In this version, the ghost of William comes to Lady Margaret and they spend the night.

Tune notes: Both performers on this site (and the Peacock recording referenced above) use the same major-key melody in quadruple metre (with some variation in 10/2). "Abbc" form.

 

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