Edward (ballad)

"Edward" is a traditional murder ballad existing in several variants, categorised by Francis James Child as Child Ballad number 13[1] and listed as number 200 in the Roud Folk Song Index. The ballad, which is at least 250 years old (a text of its Swedish counterpart has been dated to the mid-17th century[2]), has been documented and recorded numerous times across the English speaking world into the twentieth century.

SynopsisEdit

A mother questions her son about the blood on his "sword" (most likely a hunting knife, given the era when the story is occurring). He avoids her interrogation at first, claiming that it is his hawk or his horse (or some other kind of animal depending on the variation of the song), but finally admits that it is his brother, or his father, whom he has killed. He declares that he is leaving and will never return, and various creatures (wife, children, livestock) will have to fare without him. His mother then asks what she will get from his departure. He answers "a curse from hell" and implicates his mother in the murder.

Traditional RecordingsEdit

Several Appalachian musicians recorded the ballad; Jean Ritchie sang the Ritchie family version in 1946 with her sister (recorded by Mary Elizabeth Barnacle)[3] and in 1961 on the album Jean Ritchie: Ballads from her Appalachian Family Tradition,[4] whilst Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1935),[5] Horton Barker (1941),[6] and Almeida Riddle (1972)[7] also had their traditional versions recorded. The children's writer Edith Ballinger Price was recorded by Helen Hartness Flanders performing a traditional version in 1945.[8]

The song was recorded a handful of times in England; Mike Yates recorded Frank Hinchliffe of Sheffield, Yorkshire singing his version in 1977[9] and Danny Brazil of Gloucestershire singing a different version the following year.[10] George Dunn of Quarry Bank, Staffordshire was recorded by Roy Parmer singing another version in 1971, which can be heard online via the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.[11]

In Scotland, the song was generally known as "My Son David". Recordings were made of traditional Scottish traveller Jeannie Robertson (1953),[12][13] her nephew Stanley Robertson (1987)[14] and daughter Lizzie Higgins (1970)[15] singing the ballad; Lizzie Higgins' recording publicly available on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website.[15]

Irish traditional singers such as Thomas Moran of Mohill, Co. Leitrim (1954),[16] John "Jacko" Reilly of Boyle, Co. Roscommon (1967)[17] and Paddy Tunney of Co. Fermanagh (1976)[18] were also recorded singing authentic versions of the ballad. Versions collected orally in Ireland are usually named "What Put the Blood" or something similar. Tunney's version, for example, (released on his Folk-Legacy CD The Man of Songs) was entitled "What put the Blood on Your Right Shoulder, Son?"[19]

ParallelsEdit

This ballad may not be complete in itself. Large portions of the ballad are also found in the longer ballads "The Twa Brothers" (Child 49) and "Lizie Wan" (Child 51).[20]

Parallels in other languagesEdit

This ballad type was also found in Northern Europe, where it is often known under "Svend i Rosensgård" or a similar name. Its general Scandinavian classification is TSB D 320, and it is known in Danish (DgF 340), Icelandic (IFkv 76), Norwegian, and Swedish (SMB 153). In Finland, it is popular as "Poikani Poloinen", both as a poem and as a song, first published in the collection Kanteletar.

In the Scandinavian versions, and the Finnish one, the stress is more on the gradual divulge of the fact that the son will never return home to his mother.

Percy's "Edward"Edit

The authenticity of one popular version of this ballad (Child 13B) has been called into question.[21] This version originally appeared in print in Bishop Thomas Percy's 1765 edition of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Percy reported that he received this Scottish ballad from Sir David Dalrymple, who said he heard it from an unnamed lady. This version appears inauthentic because it seems, in short, too "good": it makes exceptional use of literary devices for maximum impact. Moreover, unlike most other versions, the father is the victim rather than the brother, and the mother receives a curse at the end. There is also little evidence that this version was disseminated orally; it seems to have appeared most often in print form. The name "Edward" appears to have come from Percy's version; versions which seem to have existed independently of Percy's don't use this name for the protagonist.[22]

AdaptationsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "Edward"
  2. ^ Jonsson, Bengt R., ed. (1983–1996). Sveriges medeltida ballader (in Swedish). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. p. 160. ISBN 91-22-01733-X. Retrieved 13 November 2022.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S273288)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  4. ^ "Jean Ritchie: Ballads from her Appalachian Family Tradition". Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  5. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S259329)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  6. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S397837)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  7. ^ "The Blood of the Old Rooster (Roud Folksong Index S169512)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  8. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S233995)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  9. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S340552)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  10. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S340575)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  11. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S233987)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  12. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S174287)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  13. ^ "Son David (Roud Folksong Index S161735)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  14. ^ "My Son David (Roud Folksong Index S433934)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  15. ^ a b "Son David (Roud Folksong Index S304847)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  16. ^ "Edward (Roud Folksong Index S233972)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  17. ^ "What Put the Blood (Roud Folksong Index S255692)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  18. ^ "What Brought the Blood (Roud Folksong Index S165011)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  19. ^ "O'er his grave the grass grew green", Tragic Ballads, The Voice of the People vol. 3, Topic TSCD 653 (1975)
  20. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, vol. 1, p. 167, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  21. ^ Most notable is Bertrand Bronson in "Edward, Edward. A Scottish Ballad and a Footnote," in The Ballad as Song (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969).
  22. ^ "The Yorkshire Garland Group". www.yorkshirefolksong.net. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  23. ^ John Reilly, Topic 12T 359, 1969 ("The Bonny Green Tree")
  24. ^ Folktrax 175-C60 ("John Reilly"), 1967
  25. ^ "Six Duets (Шесть дуэтов)", Tchaikovsky Research

External linksEdit