Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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I THE ELFIN KNIGHT (Child, No. 2) This fragment was recalled by Dr. D. S. Gage of Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, who writes as follows: "I heard the lines sung in Illinois when I was a boy. In those days some pioneer conditions continued and the singing of ballads was a frequent feature of social gatherings. A good number of the earlier settlers had come from southern states — Virginia, the Caroli-nas, and many from Kentucky — all of whom brought their songs with them. I heard many of these ballads sung when I was a boy." For American re­ferences to "The Elfin Knight," see Barry -Eckstorm- Smyth, p. 10. Four ver­sions of the ballad are printed on pp. 3—11. Cf. also PTFJLS, No. 10, p. 137. The lines were obtained from Dr. Gage at Montreat, North Carolina, July, 1931.
Bring it home on a peacock's feather And you'll be a true-lover of mine; Build between the salt-water sea sound And you'll be a true-lover of mine.1
3 In a letter of October, 1932, Professor Gage made the following additional comment:
"Did I tell you of another line in that 'Elfin Knight' and of the refrain ? It ran this way as to meter and meaning* there would be a task set by the maiden to her lover seemingly impossible and she would say (if done)
'And you shall be a true lover of mine'. After each line was a refrain except the last, 'And you', etc.
1st line......................................
refrain: 'Rose Mary in time'
2nd line . (The maiden's wish, seemingly impossible to fulfill), refrain 'Rose Alary in time
And vou shall be a true lover of mine '
1st line . . .         ...........................................
refrain: 'Rose Mary in time'
2nd line . . . (The lover's solution of the apparently impossible task), refrain: 'Rose Mary in time
And 1 will be a true lover of thine' and so on to the end.
The refrain puzzled me very much till it dawned on me that it is a corrupted form of the rather common old English refrain, 'Rosemary and thyme,' at least that might be possible. The other line is first: something she wished (the building of a house, 1 think).
'Rose Mary in time.' Second. 'Between the salt water and the sea sand, And you shall be a true lover of mine.' 1 am not sure about the metrical structure; there may have been more verses or lines in a stanza.                                                                       Yours,          D. S. Gage."

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III