Sunday, May 19, 2013

Barbara Allen's Cruelty

Barbara Allen's Cruelty

In Scarlet town where I was born,
   There was a fair maid dwellin’,
Made every youth cry, "Well-away!"
   Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
   When green buds they were swellin’,
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay,
   For love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his man unto her then,
   To the town where she was dwellin’;
"O haste and come to my master dear,
   If your name be Barbara Allen.

"For death is printed in his face,
   And o'er his heart is stealin';
Then haste away to comfort him,
   O lovely Barbara Allen."

"Though death be printed on his face,
   And o'er his heart is stealin',
Yet little better shall he be
   For bonny Barbara Allen."

So slowly, slowly she came up,
   And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said, when there she came,
   "Young man, I think you’re dying."

He turned his face unto her straight,
   With deadly sorrow sighing:
"O lovely maid, come pity me,
   I'm on my death-bed lying."

"If on your death-bed you do lie,
   What needs the tale you are tellin'?
I cannot keep you from your death;
   Farewell," said Barbara Allen.

He turned his face unto the wall,
   As deadly pangs he fell in:
"Adieu, adieu, adieu to you all,
   Adieu to Barbara Allen!"

As she was walking o’er the fields,
   She heard the bell a-knellin’;
And every stroke did seem to say,
   "Unworthy Barbara Allen!"

She turned her body round about,
   And spied the corpse a-comin':
"Lay down, lay down the corpse," she said,
   "That I may look upon him."

With scornful eye she looked down,
   Her cheeks with laughter swellin',
Whilst all her friends cried out amain,
   "Unworthy Barbara Allen!"

When he was dead, and laid in grave,
   Her heart was struck with sorrow;
"O mother, mother, make my bed,
   For I shall die tomorrow.

"Hard-hearted creature him to slight,
   Who loved me so dearly:
O that I had been more kind to him,
   When he was alive and near me!"

She, on her death-bed as she lay,
   Begged to be buried by him,
And sore repented of the day,
   That she did ere deny him.

"Farewell," she said, "ye virgins all,
   And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
   Of cruel Barbara Allen."

From Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 1765

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Reliques of Ancient English Poetry

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