lord randall – barbara allen


This ballad is very popular in England and it is still sung. It is a dialogue between a mother and a son, who, after going hunting in the wood with his dogs and his hawks, returns home not only tired but  poisoned. Find out who poisoned him.
Notice that the ballad is made up of quatrains and that lines and words are repeated; this gives the ballad a particular rhythm reinforced by the constant presence of a caesura (typical of Anglo-Saxon poetry)  in the middle of each line.

“O where ha you been, Lord Randal, my son?
And where ha you been, my handsome young man?”
“I ha been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi hunting, and fain wad lie down.”

“An wha met ye there, Lord Randal, my son?
And wha met ye there, my handsome young man?”
“O I met wi my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down.”

“And what did she give you, Lord Randal, My son?
And wha did she give you, my handsome young man?”
“Eels fried in a pan; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down.”

“And what gat your leavins, Lord Randal my son?
And wha gat your leavins, my handsome young man?”
“My hawks and my hounds; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down.”

“And what becam of them, Lord Randal, my son?
And what becam of them, my handsome young man?
“They stretched their legs out and died; mother mak my bed soon,
For I’m wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down.”

“O I fear you are poisoned, Lord Randal, my son!
I fear you are poisoned, my handsome young man!”
“O yes, I am poisoned; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I’m sick at the heart, and fain wad lie down.”

Footnotes
ha: have
mak: make
wearied wi: tired with
fain wad: would like
wha: who
eels: long snake-like fish
hawk: bird of prey used in hunting
hounds: hunting dogs
becam: became

 

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