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The Well Below The Valley

  • (Trad)

    Chorus:
    At the well below the valley oh
    Green grows the lily oh
    Right among the bushes oh

    A gentleman was passing by
    He asked for a drink as he got dry

    My cup is full up to the brim
    If I were to stoop I might fall in

    If your true lover was passing by
    You'd fill him a drink as he got dry

    She swore by grass, she swore by corn
    That her true love had never been born

    He said, Young maid you're swearing wrong
    For six young children you had born

    If you be a man of noble fame
    You'll tell to me the father of them

    There's two of them by your Uncle Dan
    There's two of them by your Uncle Dan

    Another two by your brother John
    Another two by your brother John

    Another two by your father dear
    Another two by your father dear

    If you be a man of noble 'steem
    You'll tell me what did happen to them

    There's two buried 'neath the stable door
    There's two buried 'neath the stable door

    Another two 'neath the kitchen door
    Another two 'neath the kitchen door

    Another two buried beneath the wall
    Another two buried beneath the wall

    If you be a man of noble fame
    You'll tell me what will happen myself

    You'll be seven years a-ringing the bell
    You'll be seven years a-ringing the bell

    You'll be seven more burning in hell
    You'll be seven more burning in hell

    I'll be seven years a-ringing the bell
    But the lord above may save my soul
    From burning in hell

    (as sung by Planxty)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1973:] This had never been collected from oral tradition in Britain or Ireland until Tom Munnelly heard John Reilly of Boyle, Co. Roscommon sing it. Other versions of the song appear in Child's collection (No. 21). From these it is apparent that the song is based on the story of Jesus at the Well. Tom Munnelly tells us that many older singers refuse to sing the song because of its sinister, incestuous overtones. (Notes Planxty, 'The Well Below the Valley')

  • [1979:] A gruesome story, belonging to the moral-carrying body of ballads and even fairy-tales of medieval days. These songs and stories, apart from being mere entertainment, also fulfilled an important role in moral, religious and social education. This song was collected in Boyle, Co Roscommon, as an example of a basically English song that survived here in Ireland, while it is no longer current in its country of origin. It is another version of The woman and the palmer, a popular account of the story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria (John IV). A similar type ballad is The cruel mother. (Loesberg II, 67)

  • [1980:] This is Child's Maid and the Palmer (his no. 21). In earlier versions the 'gentleman' of verse 1 is a palmer (pilgrim), or Jesus himself meeting the woman of Samaria. The painful theme of incest may account for the ballad's extreme rarity - in English at least though it is not uncommon in other European languages. Indeed, Child has only two versions in English, the most recent being a fragment recalled by Sir Walter Scott. Miraculously, however, it turned up, as ballads do, on the lips of an illiterate travelling man of County Roscommon, in 1969. (Palmer, Ballads 68)

  • [1984:] This is a travelling song based on a biblical story. The older travellers are very reluctant to sing it and I have known it to evoke strange sensations. (Christy Moore Songbook 33)

Quelle: Ireland

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