Child's Ballads

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

Loving Henry (Child 68)

Listening time: (4 minutes)

CHILD 68 versions A-K. This is a ballad about a woman who does not take "no" for an answer. And remember how the woman in "Pretty Polly" was worried about the bird possibly telling her parents that she had not spent the night in bed? Well, this woman also is worried about the bird who witnesses what she has done to little Henry Lee.


Get down, get down, little Henry Lee
An' stay all night with me
Th very best lodgin' I can afford
Will be fair better than thee
I can't get down, I won't get down
An' stay all night with thee
O, th girl I have in that merry green land
I love fair better than thee

She leaned herself against the ---
Jest for a kiss or two
With a little pen knife held in her hand
She plugged him thru an' thru
Come all you ladies in this town
A secret for me keep
With a diamond ring held on my hand
I never will forsake

Come take him by his lily white hand
Come take him by his feet
We'll throw him down in this deep, deep well
More then one-hundred feet
Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee
Till th flesh drops from your bones
Th girl ye have in that merry green land
Still waits for your return

Fly down, fly down, you little-bitty bird
An' light on my right ear
Your cage will be of purest gold
No need for poverty
O, I can't fly down, no I won't fly down
An' light on your right ear
A girl who would murder her own true love
Would kill a little bird like me

If I had my bended post
My arrow and my string
I'd send a dart, so nigh your heart
Your warble would be in vain
If you had your bend an' your post
Your arrow and your string
I'd fly away to that merry greeen land
An' tell what I had seen

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

  • why does the woman kill Henry? what does she do with the body?
  • who is the only witness of what has happened?
  • what bribe does the woman offer to the witness? what does she threaten to do when the witness refuses to take the bribe?

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