Child's Ballads

Week 12: England - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


Who Will Shoe Your Feet (Child 76)

Listening time: (5 minutes)

CHILD 76 versions A-K. In some cases, the narrative part of the ballad falls out over time, and only the most memorable words are kept, but no longer with a story to go with them. That is the case with "Who Will Shoe Your Feet" as collected by Max Hunter. These words are part of a promise spoken between lovers: when they are going to be apart from one another, will the woman allow anyone else to come near her? It is this promise that provides the part of the ballad collected by Max Hunter. In the versions collected by Child, the words are spoken as part of a larger context: a woman comes to the house of her lover, but is turned away by her lover's mother who says that he has gone to sea. The woman sets sail in order to find him, but her ship is wrecked at sea, and her lover finds her body on the shore. In the American versions recorded by Hunter, the entire story has fallen away, and only the lovers' words are left.

AUDIO RECORDING

VERSE 1
O, hush my love, you'll break my heart
I hate to hear you cry
For the best friends on earth must part
And it's why not you and I

VERSE 2
O, who will shoe your little feet
And, who will glove your hand
And, who will kiss your red rosy cheeks
When I'm in some far off land

VERSE 3
My Papa will shoe my little feet
My Momma will glove my hands
An' you may kiss my red rosy cheeks
When you return from th far off land

VERSE 4
O, hush my love, you'll break my heart
I hate to hear you cry
For th best of friends on earth must part
An' it's why not you and I

VERSE 5
O, don't you hear that lonesome little dove
A flying from pine to pine
Perhaps it's lost its own true love
O, I'm a weepin' for mine

VERSE 6
O, hush my love, you'll break my heart
I hate to hear you cry
For th best of friends on earth must part
An' it's why not you and I

AUDIO RECORDING

VERSE 1
O, who will shoe your feet, my love
An' who will glove your hand
Who will kiss your rosy cheeks
When I'm in a foryun land

VERSE 2
My father will shoe my feet, my love
My Mother will glove my hand
An' you may kiss my rosy cheeks
When ya return from th foryun land

VERSE 3
O hush, O hush, you break my heart
I hate to hear you cry
For th best of lovers sometimes part
O, why not you and I

VERSE 4
If I prove false to you, my love
Th rocks will softly melt
Th sun will freeze like ice, my love
An' th waves of th sea shall burn

 


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • why do the two lovers have to separate?
  • what is the man afraid of as he leaves his lover behind?
  • what does the woman promise him?

Source: From The Max Hunter Folksong Archive (weblink) and Lesley Nelson's Child Ballad website (weblink). See also Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Weblink.


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM