Mudcat Café message #3310534 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140911   Message #3310534
Posted By: Mick Pearce (MCP)
18-Feb-12 - 10:09 AM
Thread Name: Child Ballads: US Versions
Subject: RE: Child Ballads: US Versions
I haven't heard any differently, so following Steve's suggestion, I'll assume these are the versions you wanted from Cox: Folk-Songs of the South.


(Child, NO.49)

Two variants have been found in West Virginia under the titles: "The Two Brothers" and "Little Willie" (reported by COX, XLV, 160). A, although more or less fragmentary and confused, is pretty clearly related to Child B. No proper names are given. In B there are the names John and Willie, days of the week mentioned, the references to stone-throwing and ball-playing, and the deliberate use of the knife. In all these there is a strong similarity to Child G. Some striking likenesses in language are also to be noticed.

For American texts see Child, I, 443 (Massachusetts, New York); Journal, XXVI, 361 (Pound; Nebraska by way of Missouri); XXIX, 158 (Tolman; Indiana); XXX, 294, Kittredge from Belden; Missouri); McGill, p.54 (Kentucky); Campbell and Sharp, No.11 (North Carolina, Virginia); Sharp American English Folk-Songs, 1st Series, p.8 (Kentucky); Pound, No.18 (Missouri by way of Washington); Journal of the Folk-Song Society, VI, 87; Belden's Missouri collection. For references see Journal, XXX, 293. Add Bulletin, Nos.7, 9, 10.


"The Two Brothers." Communicated by Professor Walter Barnes, Fairmont, Marion County, April, 1915; obtained from Mrs.Charles Snider, Spencer, Roane County.

There were two brothers in a foreign land,
Their lessons for to learn;
Said the elder brother to the younger brother,
"Dear brother, let us play ball."

"I am too little, I am too young,
Dear brother, please leave me alone."

He had a knife all by his side,
Which was both keen and sharp;
He ran it through his brother's breast,
Which bled him to the heart.

"Now take my shirt all off my back,
And rip it from gore to gore,
And bind it round my bleeding side."
But still it bled the more.

"Now take me all upon your back
And carry me to yon churchyard,
And there dig me a fine big grave,
Which is both deep and wide.

"And if my father should ask for me,
Dear brother, when you go home,
Tell him I'm at school with my playmates,
And early I'll be home.

"And if my mother should ask for me,
Dear brother, when you go home,
Tell her I'm at school in a foreign land,
And early I'll come home.

"And if my schoolmates should ask for me,
Dear brother, when you come go home,
Tell them I'm dead and in my grave,
As cold as any stone."


"Little Willie." Contributed by Mr.John B. Adkin, Branchland, Lincoln County, April 1, 1916.

Two little boys a-going to school,
Two little boys were they;
I've often wished myself with them,
Their playmates for to be,
Their playmates for to be.

On Monday morning they started to school,
On Saturday they returned,
A-combing back their olivewood locks,
To see their parents at home,
To see their parents at home.

"O Willie, can you toss the ball,
Or can you throw a stone?"
"I am too little, I am too young,
Pray, brother, O leave me alone."

John pulled out his long, keen knife,
It being both keen and sharp;
Between the long ribs and the short
He pierced it to his heart,
He pierced it to his heart.

He then pulled off his olivewood shirt
And tore it from gore to gore;
Although to wrap the bleeding wound,
But still it bled the more,
But still it bled the more.

"Pick me up, dear brother," said he,
"And lay me out so straight;
O pick me up, dear brother," said he,
"And lay me at the gate,
And lay me at the gate.

"If you meet mother on the way
And she seems uncearned, [1]
Just tell her I'm going to the old campground,
My prayer book there to learn,
My prayer book there to learn."

[1] For concerned