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Come all you pretty fair maids, and listen to my song,
While I relate a story that does to love belong:
'Tis of a blooming damsel walked though the fields so gay,
And there she met her true love, and unto her did say:

"Where are you going, young Nancy, this morning bright and gay?
Or why do you walk here alone? Come tell to me, I pray."
"I am going to yonder river-side, where fishes they do swim,
All for to gather flowers that grow around the brim."

"Be not in haste, young Nancy," this young man he did say,
"And I will bear you company and guard you on the way,
I live on yonder river-side where fishes they do swim,
Where you may gather flowers that grow around the brim."

"Kind Sir, you must excuse me", this maiden did reply,
"I will not walk with any man until the day I die;
I have a sweetheart of my own, and him my heart has won:
He lived in yonder cottage, a wealthy farmer's son."

"And pray what is your lover's name?" he unto her did say,
"Though in my tarry trousers, perhaps I know him may."
She said "His name is William, from that I'll never run;
This ring we broke at parting. He's a wealthy famer's son."

The ring out of his pocket he instantly then drew,
Saying "Nancy, here's the parting gift; one half I left with you.
I have been pressed to sea, and many a battle won;
But still your heart could ne'er depart from me, the farmer's son."

When these words she heard him say, it put her in surprise,
The tear-drops they came trinkling down fro her sparkling eyes.
"Oh, soothe your grief!" the young man cried, "the battle you have won,
For Hymen's chains shall bind us - you and the farmer's son."

To church, then, went this couple, and married were with speed.
The villiage bells they all did ring, and the girls did dance indeed.
She blessed the happy hour she in the fields did run,
To seek all for her true love, the wealthy farmer's son.

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Source: Broadwood, L, 1908, English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, Boosey

Sung by H Burstow, 1893.

Luct Broadwood noted:

Cf. the tune with " The Honest Ploughman " in Barrett's English Folk Songs, and " The Besom Maker" in Heywood Sumner's Besom Maker. Such prints the words. The tune was also noted by Mr. Buttifant, late organist of Horsham Parish Church.


Roud: 1061 (Search Roud index at VWML)

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