The Brown Girl

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text of this ballad was taken down before the end of the nineteenth century by the Rev. S. Baring Gould, from a blacksmith at Thrushleton, Devon.

The Story is a simple little tale which recalls Barbara Allen, Clerk Sanders, Lord Thomas and Fair Annet, and others. I have placed it here for contrast, and in illustration of the disdain of 'brown' maids.


'I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.

'My love he was so high and proud,
His fortune too so high,
He for another fair pretty maid
Me left and passed me by.

'Me did he send a love-letter,
He sent it from the town,
Saying no more he loved me,
For that I was so brown.

'I sent his letter back again,
Saying his love I valued not,
Whether that he would fancy me,
Whether that he would not.

'When that six months were overpass'd,
Were overpass'd and gone,
Then did my lover, once so bold,
Lie on his bed and groan.

'When that six months were overpass'd,
Were gone and overpass'd,
O then my lover, once so bold,
With love was sick at last.

'First sent he for the doctor-man:
"You, doctor, me must cure;
The pains that now do torture me
I can not long endure."

'Next did he send from out the town,
O next did send for me;
He sent for me, the brown, brown girl
Who once his wife should be.

'O ne'er a bit the doctor-man
His sufferings could relieve;
O never an one but the brown, brown girl
Who could his life reprieve.'

Now you shall hear what love she had
For this poor love-sick man,
How all one day, a summer's day,
She walked and never ran.

When that she came to his bedside,
Where he lay sick and weak,
O then for laughing she could not stand
Upright upon her feet.

'You flouted me, you scouted me,
And many another one,
Now the reward is come at last,
For all that you have done.'

The rings she took from off her hands,
The rings by two and three:
'O take, O take these golden rings,
By them remember me.'

She had a white wand in her hand,
She strake him on the breast:
'My faith and troth I give back to thee,
So may thy soul have rest.'

'Prithee,' said he, 'forget, forget,
Prithee forget, forgive;
O grant me yet a little space,
That I may be well and live.'

'O never will I forget, forgive,
So long as I have breath;
I'll dance above your green, green grave
Where you do lie beneath.'

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