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English Folk Ballads


Read and analyze the following ballads according to the scheme:

1. The subject of the ballad;

2. The story;

3. Stylistic devices;

4. Characteristic folklore elements;

5. Type of refrain.


It was in and about the Martinmas° time,

When the green leaves were a falling,

That Sir John Graeme, in the West Country,

Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

5 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,

10 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 ’tis a’ for Barbara Allan:”

15 “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 ye was in the tavern a drinking,

That ye made the healths gae° round and round,

20 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.”

25 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.

She had not gane° a mile but twa°

30 When she heard the dead-bell° ringing,

And every jow° that the dead-bell geid,°

It cry’d, “Woe to Barbara Allan!”

“O mother, mother, make my bed!

O make it saft and narrow!

35 Since my love died for me today,

I’ll die for him tomorrow.”


It fell about the Martinmas time,

And a gay time it was then,

When our goodwife got puddings° to make,

And she’s boiled them in the pan.

5 The wind sae cauld blew south and north

And blew into the floor;

Quoth our goodman to our goodwife,

“Gae out and bar the door.”

“My hand is in my hussyfskap,°

10 Goodman, as ye may see;

An it should nae° be barred this hundred year,

It s’ no be barred for me.”

They made a paction° tween them twa,

They made it firm and sure,

15 That the first word whaeer° should speak

Should rise and bar the door.

Then by there came two gentlemen,

At twelve o’clock at night,

And they could neither see house nor hall,

20 Nor coal nor candle-light.

“Now whether is this a rich man’s house,

Or whether is it a poor?”

But neer a word wad ane o’ them speak,

For barring of the door.

25 And first they° ate the white puddings,

And then they ate the black;

Tho muckle° thought the goodwife to hersel,

Yet neer a word she spake.

Then said the one unto the other,

30 “Here, man, tak ye my knife;

Do ye tak aff the auld man’s beard,

And I’ll kiss the goodwife.”

“But there’s nae water in the house,

And what shall we do then?”

35 “What ails ye at the pudding-broo°

That boils into the pan?”

O up then started our goodman,

An angry man was he:

“Will ye kiss my wife before my een

40 And scad° me wi’ pudding-bree?”°

Then up and started our goodwife,

Gied three skips on the floor:

“Goodman, you’ve spoken the foremost word,

Get up and bar the door!”


The king sits in Dumferling° town,

Drinking the blude-red wine:

“O where will I get guid sailor,

To sail this ship of mine?”

5 Up and spake an eldern knight

Sat at the king’s right knee:

“Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor

That sails upon the sea.”

The king has written a braid° letter,

10 And signed it wi’ his hand,

And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens

Was walking on the sand.

The first line that Sir Patrick read,

A loud laugh laughed he;

15 The next line that Sir Patrick read,

A tear blinded his ee.

“O wha° is this has done this deed,

This ill deed done to me,

To send me out this time o’ the year,

20 To sail upon the sea!

Make haste, make haste, my merry men all,

Our guid ship sails the morn:”

“O say na sae,° my master dear,

For I fear a deadly storm.

25 “Late late yestreen I saw the new moon,

Wi’ the auld moon in her arm,°

And I fear, I fear, my dear master,

That we will come to harm.”

O our Scots nobles were right laith°

30 To weet° their cork-heeled shoone;°

But long owre° a’ the play were played,

Their hats they swam aboon.°

O long, long may their ladies sit,

Wi’ their fans into their hand,

35 Or eir they see Sir Patrick Spens

Come sailing to the land.

O long, long may the ladies stand

Wi’ their gold kems° in their hair,

Waiting for their ain dear lords,

40 For they’ll see them na mair.

Half o’er, half o’er to Aberdour,°

It’s fifty fathoms deep,

And there lies guid Sir Patrick Spens,

Wi’ the Scots lords at his feet.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1153

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