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Brewster: Ballads and Songs of Indiana 31
LADY ISABEL AND THE ELF-KNIGHT
(Child, No. 4)
The widespread currency of this ballad not only in the British Isles and America but also in Continental Europe led Child to write of it: "Of all ballads this has perhaps obtained the widest circulation." Only three variants have been recovered in this state, however. They are closest perhaps to Child E, although the name Polly does not occur in that text and is found only in F. In other texts the heroine is May Colvin (Colven) or May Collin. Her reminding the false lover of his promise of marriage occurs in none of the Child versions. The name William does not appear in the texts of Child; there the lover is Sir John. It is possible, however, that the William of our Indiana variant is a corruption of villain. The turning three times around is not found in any of the Child versions.
For American texts, see Belden, No. 1 (fragment); Brown, p. 9; Campbell and Sharp, No. 2; Cox, No. 1 (fragment); Hudson, No. 1; Mackenzie, Ballads, No. 1; Scarborough, p. 43; Shearin, p. 3; Shearin and Combs, p. 1; Smith, Ballads, No. 1; Wyman and Brockway, p. 82; Sandburg, p. 60; Journal, XVIII, 132; XIX, 232; XXII, 65, 76, 374, 344; XXIV, 333; XXVII, 90; XXVIII, 148; XXX, 286; XXXV, 338; XLII, 254; XLIX, 213 (Missouri); Fauset, Folk-Lore from Nova Scotia, p. 109; PTFLS, X, 138; Gordon, Folk-Songs of America, p. 8; Cox, Traditional Ballads, Mainly from West Virginia, pp. 1-5; Henry, Folk-Songs from the Southern Highlands, p. 32; BFSSNE, I, 3 (New Hampshire); Randolph, Ozark Mountain Folks, p. 216.
English and Scottish texts will be found in Broadwood and Maitland, English County Songs, p. 164 (with air); Roxburghe Ballads, VII, 383; Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England (London, 1846), p. 74; Greig, Last Leaves, p. 2 (with air); Burne, Shropshire Folk-Lore, p. 548; JFSS, I, 246; II, 282; IV, 116, 374.
For a Hungarian version, "Molnar Anna," see Buday, George, and Giles Ortutay, Szekely Nepballad&k No. 25. Manx analogues, "Illiam Bogt" and "Cur uss Jeed," appear in JFSS, VII, 300-301.
Local titles for this ballad are "Six Kings' Daughters" and "Pretty Polly." It is sometimes known also as "The False Lover."
"Six Kings' Daughters." Contributed by Mrs. Thomas M. Bryant, of Evansville, Indiana. Vanderburg County. November 22, 1935.
1. He followed me up and he followed me around, And he followed me around all day; I had not the power to speak a word Or a tongue to answer, "Nay, O Nay," Or a tongue to answer, "Nay."