Child's Ballads

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


Cherry That Had No Stone (Child 46)

Listening time: (5 minutes)

CHILD 46 versions A-C. Like the preceding ballad, this is a song that has become detached from its original narrative context. In this case, the resulting American folksong is rather famous; you have probably heard the song about the "cherry that had no stone." In the versions recorded by Child, this riddle is posed by a woman to a man who wants to marry her. He answers the first set of riddles but then makes him answer another set - just to be sure. Please read the version from Child (in the right-hand column) so that you can see just how the riddles fit into the context of the story.

AUDIO RECORDING

 

(source for the lyrics)

The Laird of Rosslyn's daughter
Walked through the wood her lane.
And by came Captain Wedderburn,
A soldier of the king.
He said unto his serving man,
Were't not against the law,
I would take her to my own bed
And lay her next the wall.

I'm walking here my lane, says she,
Among my father's trees,
And you may let me walk my lane,
Kind sir, now, if you please.
The supper bell it will be rung
And I'll be missed awa',
So I'll not lie in your bed
At neither stock nor wall.

Then said the pretty lady,
I pray tell me your name.
My name is Captain Wedderburn,
A soldier of the king.
Though your father and all his men were here,
I would take you from them all,
I would take you to my own bed
And lay you next the wall.

O hold away from me,
Kind sir, I pray you let me be,
For I'll not lie in your bed
Till I get dishes three.
Three dishes for my supper,
Though I eat none at all,
Before I lie in your bed
At either stock or wall.

VERSE 1
I gave my love a cherry, that had no stone
I gave my love a chicken, that has no bone
I gave my love a ring, that has no end
I gave my love a baby, that's no cryin'

VERSE 2
How can there be a cherry, that has no stone
How can there be a chicken, that has no bone
How can there be a ring, that has no end
How can there be a baby, with no cryin'?

VERSE 3
A cherry, when it's bloomin', it has no stone
A chicken, when it's pippin', it has no bone
A ring, when it's rollin', it has no end
A baby, when it's sleepin', there's no cryin'

I must have to my supper
A chicken without a bone,
And I must have to my supper
A cherry without stone,
And I must have to my supper
A bird without a gall,
Before I lie in your bed
At either stock or wall.

The chicken when it's in the shell
I'm sure it has no bone,
And when the cherry's in the bloom
I wat it has no stone.
The dove she is a gentle bird,
She flies without a gall,
And we'll both lie in one bed
And you'll lie next the wall.

 

 

O hold away from me, kind sir,
And do not me perplex,
For I'll not lie in your bed
Till you answer questions six.
Six questions you must answer me,
And that is four and twa,
Before I lie in your bed
At either stock or wall.

O what is greener than the grass,
What's higher than the trees,
O what is worse than a woman's wish,
What's deeper than the seas,
What bird crows first, what tree buds first,
What first on them does fall,
Before I lie in your bed
At either stock or wall.

Death is greener than the grass,
Heaven's higher than the trees,
The devil's worse than woman's wish,
Hell's deeper than the seas,
The cock crows first, the cedar buds first,
Dew first on them does fall,
And we'll both lie in one bed,
And you'll lie next the wall.

Little did this lady think,
That morning when she raise,
It was to be the very last
Of all her maiden days,
For now she's Captain Wedderburn's wife,
A man she never saw,
And now they lie in one bed,
And she lies next the wall.


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

  • what does Captain Wedderburn want?
  • what do you think the woman wants? why does she pose these riddles?
  • what happens in the end?

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