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The Ballad of Barbara Allen
Prepared by Avi Tsur

Most of the ballads have as their subject a tragic incident, often a murder or an accidental death, generally with supernatural elements.

One of the interesting characteristics of these ballads is that their telling and retelling has caused details to be changed. For instance: in Barbara Allen" the hero's name has become Sir James of the Grave, John Green and Jemmy Grove .

There are at least 92 versions of the tragic love ballad "Barbara Allen." The one presented here is one of the oldest and so it may be as near to the original Scottish story as any that can be found.


Bonny Barbara Allen

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a-falling,
That Sir John Graeme, in the West country,
Fell in love with Barbara Allen.

November 11
He sent his men down through the town
To the place where she was dwelling:
"O haste and come to my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allen."


living
hurry up
if you are
O hooly, hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by'
"Young man, I think you're dying."

slowly
"O it's I'm sick, and very, very sick,
And it's a' for Barbara Allen;"
"O the better for me you shall never be,
Though your heart's blood were a spilling."


all
"O dinna ye mind, young man," she said,
"When the red wine ye were filling,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allen?"

don't you remember

drank some toasts; go
upset
He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing;
"Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allen."


doing business
goodbye

The Ballad of Barbara Allen

Was in the merry month of May
When green buds all were swelling,
Sweet William on his death bed lay
For love of Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of May
When green buds all were swelling,
Sweet William on his death bed lay
For love of Barbara Allen.
He sent his servant to the town
To the place where she was dwelling,
Said you must come, to my master dear
If your name be Barbara Allen.

He sent his servant to the town
A place where she did dwell in,
Said master dear, has sent me here
If your name be Barbara Allen.
So slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly she drew nigh him,
And the only words to him did say
Young man I think you're dying.

Then slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly she went to him,
And all she said, when there she came
Young man I think you're dying.
He turned his face unto the wall
When we were in the tavern,
Good-bye, good-bye, to my friends all
Be good to Barbara Allen.

Don't you remember the other night
And death was in him welling,
You drank a toast to the ladies there
And slighted Barbara Allen.
When he was dead and laid in grave
She heard the death bells melling
And every stroke to her did say
Hard hearted Barbara Allen.

He turned his face unto the wall
He turned his back upon her,
Adieu, adieu, to all my friends
And be kind, be kind, to Barbara Allen.
Oh mother, oh mother go dig my grave
Make it both long and narrow,
Sweet William died of love for me
And I will die of sorrow.

As she was wandering by the fields
She heard the death bells melling
And every note did seem to say
Hard hearted Barbara Allen.
And father, oh father, go dig my grave
Make it both long and narrow,
Sweet William died on yesterday
And I will die tomorrow.

The more it tolled the more she grieved
She bursted out a crying,
Oh pick me up and carry me home
I feel that I am dying.
Barbara Allen was buried in the old churchyard
Sweet William was buried beside her,
Out of sweet William's heart, there grew a rose
From Barbara's a green briar.

They buried Willy in the old churchyard
And Barbara in the new one,
And from Willy's grave, there grew a rose
Out of Barbara Allen's a briar.
They grew and grew in the old churchyard
Till they could grow no higher
At the end they formed, a true lover's knot
And the rose grew round the briar.

Sung by Joan Baez
They grew and grew in the old churchyard
Till they could grow no higher
And there they tied in a true lover's knot
The red rose and the briar.

Sung by Garfunkel



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