It's of a merchant's daughter in Lodon town did dwell,
So modest, fair and handsome, her parents loved her well.
She was admired by lord and squire, but all their thoughs were vain,
For only one, a farmer's son. young Mary's heartádid gain.á
Long time young William couted her, and fixed their wedding day,
Their parents all consented, but her brothers both did say
"There lives a lord who pledged his word, and him she shall not shun;
We will betray and then we'll slay her constant farmer's son."
A fair was held not far from town; these brothers went straightway,
And asked young William;s company with them to pass the day;
But mark - returning home again they swore his race was run,
Then, with a stake, the life did take of her constant farmer's son.
These villians then returning home "O sister," they did say,
"Pray think no more of your false love, but let him go his way,
For it's truth we tell, in love he fell, and with some other one;
Therefore we come to tell the same of the constant farmer's son."
As on her pillow Mary lay, she had a dreadful dream,
She dreamt she saw his body lay down by a crystal stream,
Then she arose, put on her clother, to seek her love did runá,
When dead and cold, she did behold her constant farmer's son.
The salt tear stood upon his cheeks, all mingled with his gore,
She shrieked in vain, to ease her pain, and kiss'd him ten times o'er,
She gathered green leaves from the trees, to keep him from the sun,
One night and day she passed away with her constant farmer'sáson.
But hunger it came creeping on; poor girl she shrieked with woe;
To try and find his murderer she straightway home did go,
Saying "Parents dear, you soon shall hear, a dreadful deed is done,
In yonder vale lies, dead and pale, my constant farmer's son."
Up came her eldest brother and said "It is not me,"
The same replied the younder one, and swore most bitterly,
But young Mary said "Don;t turn so red, nor try the laws to shun,
You've done the deed and you shall bleed for my constant farmer's son!"
Those villians soon they owned the guilt, and for the same did die;
Young MAry fair, in deep despai, she never ceased to cry;
The parents they did fade away, the glass of life was run,
And Mary cried, in sorrow died for her constant farmer's son.
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Source: Broadwood, L, 1908, English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, Boosey
Sung by Mr. H Burstow, 1893
Lucy Broadwood wrote:
The words are on ballad-sheets by Such and other printers.á They should be compared with those of `Bruton Town " (Folk Songs from Somerset, Series i.).Both ballads have for their plot a story strangely like that in Boccaccio's Decameron, which, though versified in delightful and homely fashion by Hans Sachs, is chiefly familiar to English readers through Keats' poem ░` Isabella and the Pot of Basil." "Bruton Town" has many more points of likeness to Boccaccio's story than has the foregoing ballad ; but it is possible that both the Somerset and Sussex versions are based on the old tale, seeing that Boccaccio's " Story of Patient Grisilda" survives in doggerel form on a broadside of the 17th century (see Roxburghe Coll.), and that the classics provided much material for the early ballad-makers.
Roud: 675 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six