Mudcat Café message #3853725 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161981   Message #3853725
Posted By: Richie
07-May-17 - 01:52 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Died for Love Sources: PART IV
Subject: RE: Origins: Died for Love Sources: PART IV
Hi,

Rough draft of US/Canada headnotes is done, I've added footnotes:

http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/us--canada-versions-7-died-for-lovebutcher-boy.aspx

Comments welcome. Here's the text for A (I Wish; Alehouse) from British & Other Versions which is nearing completion:

A, represents the general theme of the Died for Love ballads and includes the "I wish, I Wish" and "Alehouse" variants. A has random core stanzas about the maid's tragic situation. Her situation in the A ballads is identified by the following life events, some of which may be missing in different versions:

1) A maid has been abandoned by a false lover, who goes to an alehouse, house or tavern and takes another girl on his knee.
2) He now loves another girl who has more means (gold) than she. This new girl will lose the gold and her beauty will fade and she will become like his former lover.
3) The maid is pregnant and there may be stanzas about "when her apron was low, he followed her through frost and snow. . ."
4) She wishes she was a maid again
    But a maid again I never shall be
    Till an apple grows on an orange tree.
5) She wishes also her child could be born
    And sitting on his daddy's/a nurse's knee.

The "maid again" stanza is an established part of A. In Popular Song at Juniper Hill by Michael Pickering [Folk Music Journal, Vol. 4, No. 5 (1984), pp. 481-503] Pickering mentions a familiar floating verse that Flora Thompson said was popular and frequently sung at Juniper Hill, North Oxfordshire in the 1880s:

I wish, I wish, 'twas all in vain,
I wish I were a maid again!
A maid again I ne'er shall be
Till oranges grow on an apple tree.

In her 1899 article in the first volume of the Journal of the Folk-Song Society, titled "Some Experiences of a Folk-Song Collector," Kate Lee recounts her first collecting experience:

However, I persisted, and sat outside, and she gave me some very bad tea, and I heard these lads wearily droning through a song which they sang together in unison, stamping their feet to the time. I afterwards recognized it at once, when I saw it in print, as being 'Sweet William,' arranged in English County Songs. The lads' version of it seemed to go on for ever and ever, and the only words of the refrain which I could catch were:-

'For a maid, a maid I shall never be,
Till apples grows on an orange tree.'

The song must have had at least a hundred verses, for they didn't sing any other all the time I was there.


The Died for Love and related song family, as well as having a number of core stanzas, has incorporated similar unrequited love stanzas from similar ballads and broadsides. Evidence of these stanzas is found in the 11 stanza "Brisk Young sailor," a broadside W. Pratt of Birmingham c.1850. The stanzas of A are missing any concrete plot and the suicide. This early broadside, Aa, copied down by Baring Gould about 1888, represents the some of the core stanzas of A:

The Effects of Love - A New Song; London, no imprint; c. 1780.

    O! Love is hot, and Love is cold,
    And love is dearer than any gold;
    And love is dearer than any thing,
    Unto my grave it will me bring.

    O when my apron it hung low,
    He followed me thro' frost and snow;
    But now I am with-child by him,
    He passes by and says nothing.

    I wish that I had ne'er been born,
    Since love has proved my downfall;
    He takes a stranger on his knee,
    And is this not a grief to me.

    I wish that my dear babe was born,
    And dandled on its daddy's knee,
    And I in the cold grave did lie,
    And the green grass grew over me.

    Ye Christmas winds when will ye blow;
    And blow the green leaves off the tree,
    O, gentle Death, when will you call,
    For of my life I am quite weary.

The first and last stanzas of Effects of Love are not core stanzas, but stanzas 2-5 represent an early version of "I Wish, I Wish" recently categorized as Roud 495. In standard versions the "I Wish" stanzas are combined with the two "Alehouse" stanzas (see core stanzas) which ties A firmly to Roud 60. Versions with the "Brisk Young Lover" opening are categorized as D and frequently share the other stanzas of A. The variants of A have two different endings. An alternative ending (see below) is found after the two "I wish" stanzas. Many versions of A borrow one or two stanzas and the ending from the broadside, The Constant Lady and False-hearted Squire dated 1686. The broadside ending sometimes is used: The maid lays down on a bed of flowers she has prepared and dies of a broken-heart.

Parts of the core stanzas found in A of "Alehouse" were derived from several older broadsides including Nelly's Constancy (c. 1686), and The Jealous Lover (c. 1686). Additional stanzas have been attached to Died for Love from other broadsides especially the previously mentioned Constant Lady and False-hearted Squire (c. 1686) broadside. Its antecedents "The Deceased Maiden Lover" and a companion ballad, "The Faithlesse Lover," were printed together on a single sheet by "the Assignes of Thomas Symcocke" about 1628. "The Deceased Maiden Lover" was fashioned from lutenist Robert Johnson's c.1611 ballad "A Forsaken Lover's Complaint."

Alehouse core stanzas:

There is an alehouse in yonder town,
Where my love goes and sits him down;
He takes a strange girl on his knee,
O don't you think that's grief to me?

O grief, O grief, I'll tell you why,
Because she's got more gold than I.
But her gold will waste, and her beauty blast;
Poor girl, she'll come like me at last[].

Alehouse has been regarded as separate from Brisk Young Lover (Sailor) by Kittredge (see his analysis in 1916 JAFL) and also by MacColl who wrote a page of notes in his Travellers book. For these reasons and others I've separated "Alehouse" from the versions with the "Brisk Young Sailor opening stanza. The two "I Wish" stanzas generally follow the two core Alehouse stanzas and the "frost and snow" stanza:

When first I wore my apron low,
He followed me through frost and snow,
But now my apron is up to my chin,
He passes by and says nothing.

A, therefore is identified by these five core stanzas:

Alehouse (I Wish) core stanzas

1. There is a house in yonder town,
Where my love goes and sits him down;
He takes a strange girl on his knee,
O don't you think that's a grief to me?

2. A grief, a grief, I'll tell you why,
Because she's got more gold than I.
But her gold will waste, and her beauty blast;
Poor girl, she'll come like me at last.

3. For when my apron-strings were low,
He followed me thro' frost and snow;
But now they are up to my chin,
He passes by and says nothing.

4 "I wish, I wish, but 'tis all in vain,
I wish I was a maid again;
A maid again I ne'er shall be,
Till an apple grows on an orange tree."

5. I wish my baby it was born,
Set smiling on its father's knee,
And I was dead and in my grave,
And green grass growing over me.

Notice that there's no resolution to the maid's dilemma, she "wishes she was dead and in her grave" and her death may be impending but there's no indication when of if she will die. Both stanzas 4 and 5 are used as ending stanzas and both provide no finality to the fate of the maid. Only when a stanza is added from "Constant Lady" is her death apparent. This was sung by Emma Overd of Langport, Somerset on August 19, 1904 (Sharp MS):

She chose the green grass for her bed
And a wreath of roses round her head;
She closed her eyes and never more spoke
Alas, poor girl, her heart was broke.

Richie