The Cruel Mother

No: 20; variant: 20I

  1. THE minister’s daughter of New York, Hey wi the rose and the lindie, O Has faen in love wi her father’s clerk. Alone by the green burn sidie, O
  2. She courted him six years and a day, At length her belly did her betray.
  3. She did her down to the greenwood gang, To spend awa a while o her time.
  4. She lent her back unto a thorn, And she’s got her twa bonny boys born.
  5. She’s taen the ribbons frae her hair, Bound their bodyes fast and sair.
  6. She’s put them aneath a marble stane, Thinking a maiden to gae hame.
  7. Looking oer her castle wa, She spied her bonny boys at the ba.
  8. ‘O bonny babies, if ye were mine, I woud feed you with the white bread and wine.
  9. ‘I woud feed you wi the ferra cow’s milk, And dress you in the finest silk.’
  10. ‘O cruel mother, when we were thine, We saw none of your bread and wine.
  11. ‘We saw none of your ferra cow’s milk, Nor wore we of your finest silk.’
  12. ‘O bonny babies, can ye tell me, What sort of death for you I must die?’
  13. ‘Yes, cruel mother, we’ll tell to thee, What sort of death for us you must die.
  14. ‘Seven years a fowl in the woods, Seven years a fish in the floods.
  15. ‘Seven years to be a church bell, Seven years a porter in hell.’
  16. ‘Welcome, welcome, fowl in the wood[s], Welcome, welcome, fish in the flood[s].
  17. ‘Welcome, welcome, to be a church bell, But heavens keep me out of hell.’