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A blacksmith courted me, nine months and better.
He fairly won my heart, wrote me a letter.
With his hammer in his hand, he looked so clever,
And if I was with my love, I'd live forever.

And where is my love gone, with his cheeks like roses,
And his good black billycock on, decked with primroses?
I'm afraid the scorching sun will shine and burn his beauty,
And if I was with my love, I'd do my duty.

Strange news is come to town, strange news is carried,
Strange news flies up and down that my love is married.
I wish them both much joy, though they don't here me,
And may God reward him well for the slighting of me.

'What did you promise when you sat beside me?
You said you would marry me, and not deny me.'
'If I said I'd marry you, it was only for to try you.
So bring your witness love, and I'll never deny you.'

'Oh, witness have I none save God Almighty.
And He'll reward you well for slighting of me.'
Her lips grew pale and white, it made her poor heart tremble
To think she loved one, and he proved deceitful.

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Source: The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs

The editors note "Sung by Mrs. Powell, nr. Weobley, Herefordshire. [Collected by] Ralph Vaughan Williams 1909." They also state that it appeared in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.VIII issue 34, 1930 (page 208).

That isn't the whole story, though. As it appeared in the Journal, there was no text attached, for Vaughan Williams had noted the tune only. Where did the words come from, then? Roy Palmer asked Bert Lloyd, who said "The song was contributed by R.V.W., who had a special liking for it. To the best of my recollection the words are as he wanted, but where he got them, I don't know". (Quoted in Bushes and Briars: Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams.) Palmer goes on to speculate that the text may have been adapted from a broadside by Such, a copy of which can be seen at the Bodleian:

The blacksmith (Firth c.18(130) Printed between 1863 and 1885 by H. Such, Printer and Publisher, 177, Union Street, Borough S.E. Printer's Series: (241).

Roud: 816 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  The Brisk Young Widow (melodic)

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