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The Maid's Lament / Maid Lamenting

[ Roud 1684 ; Ballad Index ReSh233A ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang The Maid's Lament in 1956 on his Tradition album The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs. He commented in the liner notes:

Superior people incline to think folk songs are quaint harmless ditties, fragrant or comic, the amiable stammer of unlettered farmhands and servant girls. Popular folk song collections reflect this view. What then is to be made of such a song as this country girl's lament, that suddenly jets like a fountain of agony, and in two brief stanzas cried such passion and heartbreak as would bring down the stars.

Eliza Carthy sang Maid Lamenting in 1996 on Waterson:Carthy's second album Common Tongue. Martin Carthy commented in the sleeve notes:

Maid Lamenting is a piece of Yorkshire straightforwardness from the Frank Kidson collection, a song stripped right down and with absolutely no illusions.


Eliza Carthy sings Maid Lamenting

As I walked out one evening
Down by yon shady grove,
I heard a maid lamenting,
Lamenting for her love.

“He is cruel and hard-hearted,
Even now he's false to me.
Oh I wish the day had never dawned
That he came following me.”

“If a young man has deceived you
Your tears they may well flow,
For men they are inconstant
That every girl should know.

“For their fancy's like a feather
That is blown in every wind,
A man may've won a young lass's heart
Yet often prove unkind.

“Go down to your father's garden,
Sit down and cry your fill.
For when you gave your heart away
It was with your own good will.

“There's a herb grows in your garden
And some do call it rue,
And swallows dive and fishes fly
And no man will prove true.”

(repeat last two verses)

And swallows dive and fishes fly
And no man will prove true.


Transcribed by Garry Gillard