Child's Ballads

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


Rosemary and Thyme (Child 2)

Listening time: (3 minutes)

CHILD 2 versions A-M. This is an enormously popular ballad, of which there are many different versions. You might be familiar with the famous variant form, "Scarborough Fair" which was a Simon and Garfunkel hit recording. As in the preceding ballad about the "cherry with no stone," the song is based on puzzles that one lover sets for the other. In this case, the puzzles resemble the impossible tasks (or seemingly impossible tasks) that you find in fairy tales: to reap with a sickle made of leather, and to gather the harvest using the feather of a bird.

AUDIO RECORDING

VERSE 1
As you go up to Yondos town
Rosemary an' thyme
I send my love and best respect
To that young lady an' tell her
She is a true lover of mine

VERSE 2
Tell her, to make me a cambric shirt
Rosemary and thyme
Without a seam or needles work
She shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 3
Tell her, to wash it in Yondos well
Rosemary an' thyme
Where water never flowed
Nor rain never fell
She shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 4
Tell her, to hang it on Yondos thorn
Rosemary an' thyme
That never was budded
Since Adam was borned
She shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 5
As you go up to Yondos town
Rosemary an' thyme
I send my love and best respect
That young man
And tell him, he is a true lover of mine

VERSE 6
Tell him, to buy five acres of land
Rosemary an' thyme
Betwix salt waters
And lacy sand
He shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 7
Tell him, to plow it with a muley cows horn
Rosemary an' thyme
And seed it o'er
With one grain o' corn
An' he shall be a true lover of mine

[a muley cow is a term used to refer to a hornless cow]

VERSE 8
Tell him, to reap it with a sickle of leather
Rosemary an' thyme
And gather it in
On a pea fowl feather
He shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 9
Tell him, to thrash it on Yondos wall
Rosemary an' thyme
And for his life
Let one grain fall
And he shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 10
Tell him, to take it to Yondos mill
Rosemary an' thyme
An' every grain
Must one barrell fill
An' he shall be a true lover of mine

VERSE 11
Tell him, when he gets this work done
Rosemary and thyme
To come to me
For his cambric shirt
He shall be a true lover of mine


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

  • what are the weird tasks that the man tells the woman to do?
  • what are the weird tasks that the woman gives to the man?
  • what do all these weird tasks have in common?

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