The Two Brothers (Kenneth Peacock)

Two nice little boys were going to school,
They walked all alone;
They wished they had gone
to their neighbor's house,
To pay their welcome home, home,
To pay their welcome home.

"Oh, can you toss the ball," said he,
"Or can you sling a stone?"
"I am too small and I am too young,
Dear brother, leave me alone, lone,
Dear brother, leave me alone."

He then took out his little pen-knife,
And threw him on the ground;
He plunged it in his tender heart,
And the blood came streaming down, down,
And the blood came streaming down.

"Oh you take off my Holland shirt,
And tear it from gore to gore;
And wrap it around my deadly wound,
Dear brother, will it bleed any more, more,
Dear brother, will it bleed any more?"

Oh he took off his Holland shirt,
And tore it from gore to gore;
And wrapped it around his deadly wound,
But it bled still more and more,
But it bled still more and more.

"On Saturday night when you go home,
My mother will ask of me;
You tell her I've gone to see Jesus at school,
Where all the good scholars go, go,
Where all the good scholars go.

"On Saturday night when you go home,
My father will ask of me;
You tell him I'm dead and in my grave,
And buried in Johnstreet town, town,
And buried in Johnstreet town."

####.... Variant of a Scottish traditional, The Twa Brothers [Child ballad #49] The English And Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) edited by Francis James Child [1825-1896] (Dover, 1965) ....####
Collected in 1959 by Kenneth Peacock from Charlotte Decker [1884-1967] of Parson's Pond, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.827-828, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that scholars have found it impossible to trace the story to its source. In some of the Child variants the brothers are called John and William. The song may refer to the tragic accident in 1589 near Edinburgh when one of the young Sommervilles was killed by his brother's accidentally discharged pistol. There is also the theory that in the original story which pre-dates the recorded versions, the brothers were older and fought over the affections of a young girl, their own sister. The theme of incest occurs in several ballads of the Child collection. However, in this case the story may have been modified to suit the requirements of an early broadside which has been lost. Lowering the brothers' ages to a safe pre-adolescent level would render the story innocuous enough for official public consumption. There is still the problem of censorship today. Stories and questionable words that pass unnoticed in the warmth and humour of oral communication are often shocking when seen in print.

See more Child Ballad variants from NL.


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