#01405
The Babes In The Wood (Copper Family)

O, don't you remember a long time ago,
Two poor little babes, their names I don't know;
They strayed far away on a bright summer's day,
These two little babes got lost on their way.

Poor babes in the wood! Poor babes in the wood!
Oh! don't you remember those babes in the wood?

Among the trees high, beneath the blue sky,
They plucked the bright flowers and watched the birds fly;
Then on blackberries fed, and strawberries red,
And when they were weary, "We'll go home," they said.

Poor babes in the wood! Poor babes in the wood!
Oh! don't you remember those babes in the wood?

And when it was night, so sad was their plight,
The sun it went down, and the moon gave no light;
They sobbed and they sighed and they bitterly cried,
And long before morning, they lay down and died.

Poor babes in the wood! Poor babes in the wood!
Oh! don't you remember those babes in the wood?

And when they were dead, the robins so red,
Brought strawberry leaves and over them spread;
And all the day long, on the branches did throng,
They mournfully whistled, and this was their song:

Poor babes in the wood! Poor babes in the wood!
Oh! don't you remember those babes in the wood?

####.... Author unknown (see below). Variant of a British broadside ballad, The Children Of The Wood [Laws Q34] American Balladry From British Broadsides, p.29 (G Malcolm Laws, 1957) based on a poem, The Children Of The Wood, attributed to Robt Tarrington in Reliques Of Ancient English Poetry (1765), edited by Bishop Thomas Percy (1729-1811) (Laws Q34, p.200) American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of an 18th-century British broadside ballad, The Children In The Wood: or The Norfolk Gentleman's Last Will And Testament published by W and C Dicey (London) sometime between 1736 and 1763, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 4(30) ....####

This version is from a recording by the Copper Family (Bob and Ron Copper, Folk-Legacy, 1964). In the notes to Come Write Me Down: Early Recordings Of The Copper Family of Rottingdean, Topic TSCD534, 2001, folklorist Steve Roud identifies the writer of Babes in the Wood as William Gardiner [1769/70-1853]. Gardiner was a Leicester hosiery manufacturer and accomplished amateur musician. An early champion of the works of Beethoven, he was also particularly interested in sacred music, composing or setting a number of hymns.

A variant was collected in Placentia Bay, NL, by Eric West in 1978, and deposited in the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) accession number 78-236.


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