MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Lady Margaret
Thomas Williams NFLD 2 Tape 12 Track 7
St. Vincent's Audio:
Ballad

THOMAS WILLIAMS: (in background) But sure that's a long piece ________ it all
LEACH: Whatever you… Sing whatever you know of it.
THOMAS WILLIAMS: Yeah
(Sings)

Lady Margaret she sat in her lonely bower
Built out of lime and stone
Lady Margaret she sat in her lonely bower
When she heard a deadly moan

Is that my father the king she cried
Or is it my brother John
Or is it my true love now knight Will’am [sic]
That is 'ome from Scotland come

It is not your father the king he cried
Or it’s not your brother John
But it is your own true love knight Will’am
That is 'ome from Scotland come

If it is my own true love knight Will'am
As l suppose you are to be
Where is that fine and fair yellow hair
That grew so long on thee

The ground has rotted and the worms have ate
As you might plainly see
And if you were in the grave so long
You would be ________________________

I come to you for my faith and troth
That l left in pleasure with thee
Your faith or troth you never shall get, or any other thing
Until you bring me to some church, and wed me with a ring

Oh no oh no lady Margaret he says
Sure that can never be
For if ever the dead could wed with the livin'
My dear l would wed 'long wit' thee

She tucked up her petticoats then
And that up to her knee
She went over the hills of a cold frosty night
In the dead man's company

But when they came to the old churchyard
Where the moss grew grassy and green
Sayin here is my home lady Margaret he said
And the place l do dwell in

Oh- he ta- Place l do dwell in

Are they any room at your bed head
Are they any at your feet
Are they any room at all she said
That I’d lie down to sleep

My father he's at my bed head
M mother she's at my feet
And there’s three hellhounds all round me
Tryin' my poor soul to take

There is one of them for my drunkenness
And another of them for my pride
And another of them for eluding pretty maids
And stopping out late by night

She caught him by the lily-white hand
And struck him on the breast
Sayin' here is your faith and your troth back again
And in heaven your soul may rest

LEACH: Now you got it!


Notes


Sources: Child 77 (Sweet William’s Ghost); Bronson 77 (Sweet Willilam’s Ghost); Roud 50; Horwood, 1952: 127 (fragment); Greenleaf, 1968: 21 (Lady Margaret); Greenleaf/Mansfield 9; Karpeles, 1934: 2; Karpeles 1934a:1; Karpeles 1971:50, 52, 54-57, 302 (composite) (Lady Margaret); Karpeles-Newfoundland 9 (Sweet William’s Ghost); Leach, 1965:30; Leach 256-262 (Sweet William’s Ghost); Leach-Labrador 4 (Sweet William’s Ghost); Mercer 1979: 183 (Sweet William’s Ghost); Peacock, 1965: 390, 393 (2 variants), 394 (3 variants), 395 (Lady Margaret).
Broadside references include Bodleain, Harding B 5(1) (Sweet William’s Ghost).
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Halpert, H., S. Fiander MUNFLA 67-36; Doyle, Mrs. M, MUNFLA 73-51.

History: The earliest known date, according to the Traditional Ballad Index (http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html), is 1740. It has also been suggested that some versions, particularly Herd’s found as Child B, which mention “Middle-Earth” could have been influenced by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Text: A well known text. Margaret is visited by the revenant of her beloved. She asks to still marry him and he denies her because the dead can not wed. She follows him to his grave and asks if there is room for her. He replies that he is surrounded by his father and three hell hounds to make him repent for drunkenness, pride and “eluding pretty maids.” An interesting element in this text, is that she strikes him on the chest to give him back his “faith” and “troth” so that he might rest peacefully.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The final words are spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 2/4. The key is C major with a range of a minor 9th from G up to A.

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