#01102
The Bonny Banks Of Ardrie-O (Peacock)
See also: Bonny Farday (John Jacob Niles)

There were three sisters lived alone,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
The deep green wood they called their home,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

To gather herbs they went one day,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
They met a robber on their way,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

He took the eldest by the hand,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
He wheeled her 'round till he made her stand,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

Saying, "Will you be a robber's wife,"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"Or will you die by my pen-knife?"
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"I will not be a robber's wife,"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"I would rather die by your pen-knife."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

He then took up his own pen-knife,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
'Twas there he ended her sweet life,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

He then took the second by the hand,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
He wheeled her 'round till he made her stand,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

Saying, "Will you be a robber's wife?"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"Or will you die by my pen-knife?"
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"I will not be a robber's wife."
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"I would rather die by your pen-knife."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

He took the youngest by the hand,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
He wheeled her 'round till he made her stand,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

Saying, "Will you be a robber's wife?"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"Or will you die by my pen-knife?"
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"I will not be a robber's wife."
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"And I will not die by your pen-knife."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"If my brothers were only here,"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"You would not have killed my sisters dear."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"Who are your brothers, come tell me."
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"A minister one hopes to be."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"Who is the other, come tell to me."
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"He is a robber just like thee."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

"Oh, my God, look what I have done,"
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
"I have killed my sisters all but one."
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

He then took up his own pen-knife,
All a-lee and a-lonely-o;
'Twas there he ended his own sweet life,
On the bonny, bonny banks of Ardrie-o.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of an English traditional ballad, Babylon, or, The Bonny Banks O' Fordie [Child ballad #14] The English And Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) edited by Francis James Child (Dover, 1965) ....####
Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1960 from Joshua Osbourne [c1903-?] of Seal Cove, White Bay, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.809-810, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved, and recorded by Peacock on his album Songs and Ballads of Newfoundland (Folkways FG 3505, LP, 1956).

A variant was also published as Bonny Farday in the Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles, Folk Balladeer, RCA Victor Vintage.

A variant was collected by MacEdward Leach [1897-1967] and published as Babylon, or, The Bonnie Banks O' Fordie in The Ballad Book, pp.88-90 (A S Barnes, New York, 1955).

Another variant was collected in 1930 from Mr and Mrs Kenneth Monks [1877-?] of King's Cove, NL, by Maud Karpeles [1885-1976] and published as #3, Bonny Banks Of The Virgie-O in Folksongs From Newfoundland (Faber & Faber, London, 1971; Oxford, 1934).

And a variant was also published as #4, The Bonnie Banks Of The Virgie, O in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968). Karpeles and Greenleaf (Sandy Cove, 1929) claimed the first North American sighting of the song.

Kenneth Peacock noted that fragments of this ballad have been found in the United States, but full credit for preserving it in its entirety must go to Newfoundland. The variants given by Professor Child mention just one brother. A Scottish variant was recorded by Ewan McColl and his mother, Betsy Miller. The story is known in Scandinavian folklore and was probably brought to Britain in the early invasions. The historical accidents that brought it to Newfoundland and kept it in such a high state of preservation are beyond tracing at this late date.


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