Author Topic: Add: The Cruel Mother


Posted - 13 Sep 02 - 01:53 pm

Cruel Mother, The

The was a lady lived in York
(all alone-y, alone-y)
She was courted by her father's cleark
(Down by the greenwood side-y)

She leaned her back against an oak
But first it beant and then it broke.

She leaned herself against a thorn
And there she had two pretty babes born.

She had a pen-knife long and sharp,
And she pressed it through their tender hearts.

She digged a grave both wide and long,
And she buried them under a marble stone.

And she was sat at her father's hall,
Oh there she saw two pretty babes playing at ball.

Oh babes - oh babes if you were mine,
I would dress you up in the scarlet fine.

Oh mother, oh mother we once were thine,
You did not dress us in the scarlet fine.

You digged a grave both wide and long,
And you buried under a marble stone.

Babes - oh babes come tell to me,
If you know what the future means to me.

Mother - oh mother you know right well,
'Tis we for Heaven and you for Hell.

Source: Marrow Bones, Ed Frank Purslow, EFDS, 1965


Hammond D.863. Collected from Mrs Case, Sydling St. Nicholas, Dorset, Sept 1907

Child: 20

Database entry is here

Michael Morris

Posted - 19 Mar 06 - 11:52 pm


There was a maid who had two babes,
All alone and alone,
She laid those babes down hand in hand,
And with a knife cut off their heads,
All down by the greenwood side

She buried those babes under a stone,
All alone and alone,
And prayed to the Lord it would never be known,
All down by the greenwood side.

The maid was passing by one day,
All alone and alone,
She saw those babes both out for play,
All down by the greenwood side.

"Oh, babes, oh, babes, if you were mine,
All alone and alone,
I'd dress you up in silk so fine,
All down by the greenwood side."

"Oh, mother, dear mother, we were once were yours,
All alone and alone,
You neither gave us coarse nor fine,
You killed and buried under a stone,
And prayed to the Lord it'd never be known,
All down by the greenwood side.

"For seven long years you shall hear a bell,
All alone and alone,
At the end of seven years you shall land in Hell,
All down by the greenwood side."

Sung by Mrs. Pearl Brewer in Pocahontas, Arkansas, May 27, 1959. Collected by Max Hunter, printed by Mary Celestia Parler in An Arkansas Ballet Book (Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas, 1963), p.14.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 20 Mar 06 - 03:15 am

This might be an opportune moment to mention that, after lengthy debate and discussion going back several years, the English Folk Dance and Song Society will be re-publishing Marrowbones in Spring 2007; with The Wanton Seed to follow in 2008. The intention is to go for a format similar to Classic English Folk Songs (the re-issue of The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs) that I did for them in 2003.

Steve Gardham and I will be working together on revising and expanding the notes and background material. Such information as can be had on the singers will also be included. I talked to Frank Purslow about the project earlier tonight; it was one of the most enjoyable and informative phone conversations I've had in a long while, and having his provisional blessing, so to speak, is very important to me.

I'm looking forward enormously to spending time at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library going through the original MSS. I dipped into them while working on 'Penguin', but this will be be an opportunity to go into proper depth, I hope.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 20 Mar 06 - 06:16 am

Sounds exciting - good luck.


Posted - 20 Mar 06 - 08:42 am

Excellent! As is usual with the "Marrowbones"-style books, the binding has completely disintegrated on my copy. I have to keep it in an envelope to avoid getting its pages mixed up with the other books, so I would certainly welcome it moving to Classic English Folk Songs format.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 26 Mar 06 - 12:35 am

My copy of Marrow Bones was sewn, so is still in one piece; but The Wanton Seed is a second printing, and therefore a heap of loose pages in a box.

I don't actually own a copy of vol 4, The Foggy Dew (most used copies have fallen to pieces) but -assuming sales of the first two books are sufficient, and EFDSS decides to reissue the others- I have a couple of years more to dig one up. It doesn't matter if it's loose in a bag, so long as it's all there.


Posted - 26 Mar 06 - 11:19 am

I have a copy of "The Foggy Dew" (on which the binding is still viable.) Feel free to borrow it in a few years time!

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 26 Mar 06 - 08:58 pm

If it's "perfect bound" and glued, that might be a suicide mission...


Posted - 27 Mar 06 - 08:35 am

Yes, but what a noble cause to go down in!

Seriously, if you can't find a copy that is already in conveniently separate pages, or if you can but some of the pages are missing, having reference to a copy that is certainly whole might prove useful. I have barely used it because the bindings are so fragile, so I would be buying the Classic-bound version anyway. That being so - and given that the resale value of a perfect copy of the Foggy Dew is unlikely to raise enough money to retire on - I would consider that breaking the binding is a price worth paying to get it to market.

Anyway, any such decision is a long way off. Just keep it in mind if you do have difficulty finding a copy.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 28 Mar 06 - 12:37 am

Thanks, I will. I've still got a couple of years to find a copy of my very own; but if I eventually need to take you up on your kind offer you will certainly get a complementary copy of the new edition in exchange.

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