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Unhappy Love 35
3 THE CUP OF COLD POISON
(Lord Randal, Child, No. 12)
This ballad, perhaps because it has been perpetuated more by oral transmission than by writing, has an amazing range of tides, but no other version has been reported under the local name of the Michigan text. Child gives nineteen versions and calls attention to the very wide distribution of the ballad in German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Magyar, and Wendish. Barry, p. 46, refers to "this ballad, one of the most widely known in American tradition, as one which offers a Held for study to show the relative rates of traditional change, as affecting text and melody." Therefore he urges that every text, including fragments, and every tune be recorded. Most of the versions recorded in America represent the hero as poisoned by food, often by "eels fried in butter." Child H came indirectly from the oral recitation of a girl in Ireland about 1868 and has many points in common with the Michigan form. For an extended study of "Lord Randal" in Europe and the Umted States see Child, I, 151-166. See also Barry, Eckstorm, and Smyth, pp. 46-72; Harold Gibson Brown, "Lord Randall," JAFL, XLIV, 302; Cox, pp. 23-28; Davis, pp. 105-119; Eddy, No. 2; Flanders and Brown, pp 197-198; Scarborough, pp. 178-180; Sharp, 1,38-45; and Archer Taylor, "A Contamination in Lord Randal," Modern Philology, XXIX, 105-107.
The present version was obtained in 1931 by Miss Ruth Barnes, Ypsilanti, from the singing of Mr. Roland O. Bell, Sherwood, Michigan, who as a child learned the song from his mother, Mrs. Emma Spellman, of English and Holland-Dutch stock.
1 "Where have you been rambling, my own darling son? Where have you been rambling, my own darling John?" "O'er the hills and the valleys, mother; make my bed down, For I'm sick to my heart, and I long to lie down."
2 "What have you been drinking, my own darling son? What have you been drinking, my own darling one?" "A cup of cold poison, mother; make my bed down, For I'm sick to my heart, and I long to he down."
3 "What'll you will to your mother, my own darling son? What'll you will to your mother, my own darling one?" "My house and my farm, mother; make my bed down, For I'm sick to my heart, and I long to lie down."
4 "What'll you will to your father, my own darling son? What'll you will to your father, my own darling one?" "My horse and my saddle, mother; make my bed down, For I'm sick to my heart, and I long to He down."