The Holland Handkerchief
There was a lord lived in this town;
His praises went the country round.
He had a daughter, a beauty bright
On her he placed his heart's delight.
O, many a lord a-courting came
But none of them could her fancies gain
Till a poor young man of a low degree
Came under hand and she fancied he.
And when her father came this to hear
He separated her far from her dear.
Four scores of miles he had her sent
To her uncle's house at her discontent.
One night as she was for bed bound
And all things ready for to lie down,
She heard the voice of a deadly sound,
Saying, "Oh, loose those bands that so earthy bound."
Her father's steed she quickly knew;
Her mother's mantle and safeguard, too,
And as she mounted on behind,
Rode swiftcr, faster than the wind.
And all along those words did say,
"My dear and darling, how my head does ache!"
She kissed his lips and those words did say,
"My dear and darling, you're as cold as clay!"
Her Holland handkerchief she then pulled out
And bound it 'round his head about,
Saying, "When we get home a good fire we'll have."
But little she knew he came from the grave.
A short while after a little space
They both arrived at her father's gate.
"Un-light, my dear, and go to bed;
You'll find your steed in the stable fed."
But when she entered her father's door,
Her aged father stood on the floor,
Saying, "Father, dear father, did you send for me
By such a messenger, kind sir?" said she.
The hair rose on the old man's head
For he knew quite well her true love was dead.
He wrung his hands and wept full sore
But this young man's darling wept ten times more.
A short while after a little space,
They both arrived at this young man's grave.
Although his body was six weeks dead,
Her Holland handkerchief was 'round his head.
So come all young maidens, a warning take.
Beware, and not your vows to break.
My vows are broke; my true lover gone.
I never can call him back again.
From Ballads Migrant in New England, Harkness
Collected from Hanford Hayes, Staceyville, ME 1940