In the early month of May,
When the green buds were swelling,
Sweet William lay on his death bed
For the love of Barbary Ellen.
He called unto his serving man
To go and get his gelding,
Make no delay till he got there,
And bring him Barbary Ellen.
He started off at top of speed
And reached her father's dwelling,
Sweet William sent me here for you,
If your name be Barbary Ellen.
Then very slowly she rose up
And remarked that she was going,
But all she said when she got there was,
Young man I think you are dying.
He turned his face toward the wall,
Yes, turned his back upon her,
Adieu, he said, to kind friends all,
And woe to Barbary Ellen.
Don't you remember last country day,
While at your table drinking,
You drank a health to the ladies all
And slighted Barbary Ellen?
As she was returning home
She heard the death bell ringing,
And oft she stopped and listened while
The mourners still kept coming.
It was to-day that sweet William died,
And I will die to-morrow;
Out of his grave there grew a red rose,
And out of Barbary's a briar.
They grew as high as a steeple top,
And could grow no higher,
When the two linked in a true love knot,
The rose wrapped 'round the briar.