The Oxford Book of Ballads - online book

A Selection Of The Best English Lyric Ballads Chosen & Edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch

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And two long miles he led them on, While they for food complain:
' Stay here,' quoth he ; ' I'll bring you bread When I come back again.'
These pretty babes, with hand in hand,
Went wandering up and down ; But never more could see the man
Approaching from the town. Their pretty lips with blackberries
Were all besmear'd and dyed ; And when they saw the darksome night,
They sat them down and cried.
Thus wander'd these poor innocents,
Till death did end their grief; In one another's arms they died,
As wanting due relief: No burial this pretty pair
From any man receives, Till Robin Redbreast piously
Did cover them with leaves.
And now the heavy wrath of God
Upon their uncle fell; Yea, fearful fiends did haunt his house.
His conscience felt an hell: His barns were fired, his goods consumed,
His lands were barren made, His cattle died within the field,
And nothing with him stay'd. 858
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