'Tis of a beauty fair, oh and a shepherd's daughter dear,
She was courted by her own true heart's delight;
She was a virgin bright, oh his joy and heart's delight,
Oh and nothing but death could this young couple part.
His mother false and cruel wrote a letter to his jewel,
And she wrote it in a hand just like his own,
Saying: "Meet me here tonight, meet me here my heart's delight,
In the garden gay nearby my mother's home."
The gardener agreed oh with fifty pounds indeed
To kill this girl and lay her in the ground,
And with flowers fine and gay oh her grave to overlay,
That way her virgin body ne'er shall be found.
This fair one she arose oh and to the garden goes
All for to meet her own true heart's delight;
Where she searched the groves all round oh but no true love she found,
Till at length the bloody gardener came in sight.
"Oh madam now I pray, what brought you here this way,
Are you going to rob me of my garden gay?"
"No," she said, "no thief I am, I'm in search of a young man
Who has promised for to meet me here this way."
"Prepare, prepare," he cries, " oh prepare to lose your life,
Your virgin body bleeding in the ground;
And with flowers fine and gay oh your grave I'll overlay,
That way your virgin body ne'er could be found."
She on the ground did fall oh and to the Lord did call.
Saying, "Oh false cruel love is this your design?"
"No, his mother false and cruel has betrayed you and your jewel,
And has paid me well to make your heart all mine."
With that he drew a knife, cut the single thread of life,
Lay her virgin body bleeding on the ground;
And with flowers fine and gay oh her grave did overlay,
That way her virgin body ne'er could be found.
This young man he arose and to the garden goes
All for to meet his own true heart's delight;
Where he searched the grove all round oh but no true love he found,
Till the grove and the valleys seemed to mourn.
Then he lay down to sleep on a mossy bank so sweet,
Where a milk-white dove flew swiftly o'er his head;
With her battering wings did beat all about this young man's feet,
And when he awoke the dove she had fled.
The dove away did flee and perched on a myrtle tree,
And the young man followed her through the garden gay;
He called her soft and low with his heart so full of woe,
Till he came to the place where the dove did lay.
He said, "My pretty dove, so mournful there above,
Have you lost your own true love as I have mine?"
Down from the tree so tall oh she on the ground did fall,
Where she drooped her neck spread her wings, and bled from the breast.
This young man home did go with his heart so full of woe,
Saying, "Oh false cruel mother you have me undone,
Robbed me of my beauty bright, oh my joy and heart's delight,
And 'tis soon now you shall have no heir and son."
With that he drew a knife, cut the single thread of life
In the bloody garden where his true love lay.
"Oh my virgin beauty bright, oh my joy and heart's delight,
So we both shall meet all in the garden gay."
Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, vol. 3, p. 668. Kenneth Peacock, 1965.
Sung by Everett Bennett, St. Paul's, Newfoundland, August 1958. PEA 95 no. 755
For further information, see The Bloody Gardener
(Search Roud index at VWML)
The Bloody Gardener