Constant Farmer's Son (Lehr and Best)
(The Pot Of Basil) (The Cruel Brothers)

'Tis of a comely maiden
living by a riverside,
She was both tall and beautiful,
they called her the village pride.
Rich lords came to court her
but their love was all in vain
For there was one, a farmer's son,
young Mary's heart did gain.

They pledged their love together
and planned their wedding day.
Her mother and father gave their consent,
but her brothers this did say:
"There is a squire now courting you,
and him you must not shun,
Or else, this day we will betray
your constant farmer's son."

Those brothers they got ready
and then they went straightway
To seek young Willy's company,
for to spend with him one day;
But on the way returning home
his glass of life was run -
'Twas with a knife they took the life
of her constant farmer's son.

Young Mary on her pillow lay,
that night could get no rest,
With thoughts of her own Willy
burning deep within her breast.
Mary arose, put on her clothes
and to seek her love did run,
It was dead and cold she did behold
her constant farmer's son.

It was dead and cold she did behold
him bleeding in yon grove.
The tears ran down her lovely face,
she kissed him o'er and o'er.
She plucked the green leaves from the trees
for to shade him from the sun;
It was night and day she pined away
for her constant farmer's son.

Till hunger came approaching
this fair one all alone,
To seek her brothers' company
she quickly went home.
Saying: "Brothers dear, you soon shall hear
of the cruel deed you've done -
You have done the deed and now must bleed
like my constant farmer's son."

Up speaks the eldest brother:
"I'm sure it was not me!"
Up speaks the youngest brother
who swore most bitterly;
"Oh brothers dear, you need not swear
for the cruel deed you've done,
You'll rue the day that you did slay
my constant farmer's son!"

Those brothers they were taken
and very soon were tried,
Young Mary on her pillow lay,
she never ceased to cry.
Those brothers they decayed away,
for their glass of life was run.
Young Mary sighed and in sorrow died
for her constant farmer's son.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, The Constant Farmer's Son [Laws M33] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Merchant's Daughter And Constant Farmer's Son, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1819 and 1844, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 11(3995) ....####
This variant was collected in 1979 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from John Tobias Pearson [b.1941] of Petite Forte and Southeast Bight, Placentia Bay West, NL, and published as #25 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.42-43, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Anita Best noted that this is a song she learned from John Tobias Pearson [b.1941] of Petite Forte and Southeast Bight, Placentia Bay West, NL. It is a version of a very old song known variously as The Pot Of Basil and The Cruel Brothers.

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