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Yestreen the Queen had four Maries,
The nicht she'll ha'e but three;
was Marie Seaton, And Marie Beaton,
And Marie Carmichael and me.

Oh often ha'e I dress'd my Queen,
And deck'd wi' gowd her hair,
And she has gien me in return
A hempen scarf to wear.

I ha'e but just begun to live,
And yet this day I dee;
Oh, tie a napkin ower my face,
That the gallows I mayna see.

My father kissed me and little thought,
When last he looked on me,
That I his last and lo'eliest wean
Should hang on a gallows tree.

Oh little died my mother ken,
The day she gi'ed me breath,
That I should come sae far frae hame
And die a shameful death.

For if my father and mother got wit,
And my bold brethren three,
Oh, mickle wad be the guid red blood
That day would die for me.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: C Findlater and M Campbell,Scottish Songs, Lomond Books, 2004

As the Young Tradition used to say of a completely different song "There must be a great story behind this ballad, but the song doesn't tell it."

This Child ballad is the staple of many academic theses trying to work out what it is about. A non-academic account of one viewpoint can be read here.

Child Ballad Texts

Roud: 79 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 173

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