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GUEST,Q Origins: Fair Margaret and Sweet William (12) Lyr Add: FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM 31 Jul 03


Lyr. Add: FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM
(Sharp MSS)

Sweet William rose one morning in May
And dressed himself in blue.
Pray tell us this long, long love, said they,
Between Lady Margaret and you.

I know no harm of Lady Margaret,
And she knows none of me;
This day before twelve o'clock shall come
Lady Margaret my bride shall see.

Lady Margaret was standing in her own hall door,
Combing her long yellow hair;
Sweet William came along with his bride;
She was ne'er seen again there.

I dreamed a dream last night, mother,
I know it was no good.
I dreamed my hall was filled with white swine
And washed away in blood.

Is Lady Margaret at home,
Or is she at her bower,
Or is she in her own dining-room
Among her merry maids all?

Yes, Lady Margaret's at home,
But she's not in her bower;
Lady Margaret is dead and in her coffin
That stands against yonders cold wall.

Throw down, throw down those white winding sheets,
My soul doth her entwine.
O may I kiss Lady Margaret's sweet lips,
For I know she will never kiss mine.

With music, from Bronson, "The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular ballads, 74, Fair Margaret and Sweet William, group cb, 47. Sharp MSS, 4596/3215. Also Sharp and Karpeles, 1932, I. Sung by Mrs. Virginia Bennett, Burnsville, N. C., 1918.
The 'white swine' is in the song as sung by Mary Humphrey (above), the 'bride-bed full of blood' in the Bodleian broadsides, and the food and wine from a version collected by Karpeles, 1934, from Newfoundland. The last has the lady entangled with a swan in her bed, no swine.
The many versions differ in details.

For I dreamed a terrible drean,
I'm afraid it's not for our good.
I dreamed that my love was entangled with a swan
And my bride's bed flowing with bread.
This version from Karpeles has the briar and rose entwined in a knot, of the old broadsides.

A long version, sung by Jean Ritchie, Kentucky, and reproduced in Bronson, has 'wild swine' filling William's hall. (Riverside LP, RLP2-620, Ritchie family).


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