The False Maiden (Kenneth Peacock)

One morning in May I rambled away,
The sun it was shining but cold was the day;
I went in the forest to view what was there,
The forest was covered with bushes.

The first place I saw my love, in the church stand,
Gold rings on her fingers, her love by the hand;
My legs they did tremble, I scarcely could stand
To see my love wed with another.

"Oh," said the clergy, "step out of the way,
Step in now, young man, till I hear what you say;
And if this is true what you're telling to me,
Your love shall be wed to no other."

The next place I saw my love, coming from church,
I stepped on before, just onto the porch;
And as she passed by me I wished her much joy,
But my curse on the man who stood by her.

The next place I saw my love, sitting to eat,
I sat down beside her but nothing could eat;
I loved her fond company much better than meat,
But now she is wed to another.

The next place I saw my love, going to bed,
With six pretty maidens around her bed shade;
I stepped in between them and kissed the young bride,
Oh, if I could lie by her forever!

Oh, dig me a grave, long, narrow, and deep,
Covered all over with lilies so sweet,
That I may lie in it and take my last sleep,
Away from false maidens forever.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 17th-century British broadside ballad, The Forlorn Lover, published by F Coles; T Vere; and J Wright (London) sometime between 1663 and 1674, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Douce Ballads 1(83a) ....####

Collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs James (Lucy) Heaney [1895-?] of Stock Cove, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.441-442, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that the unusual metre and rhyming scheme lend extra poignancy to this lovely lament. Though probably English in origin, it is found in Irish collections like Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads, where it is called The Lambs Of The Green Hills.


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