In Dublin City where I did dwell,
Lived a butcher boy I loved right well;
He courted me my life away,
But now with me he will not stay.
I wish my baby it was born,
And smiling on his daddy's knee;
And me, poor girl, to be dead and gone,
With the long green grass growing over me.
She went upstairs to go to bed,
And calling out her mother said:
Give me a chair till I sit down,
And a pen and ink till I write down.
At every word she shed a tear,
And every line cried, Willy, dear,
Oh, what a foolish girl was I,
To fall in love with a butcher boy.
He went upstairs and the door he broke,
He found her hanging from a rope;
He took his knife and cut her down,
And in her pocket these words he found:
Oh, dig my grave large, wide, and deep,
Place a marble stone at my head and feet;
And in the middle a turtle dove,
So the world may know I died for love.
####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th century British broadside ballad, The Butcher Boy [Laws P24] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G. Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of the broadside ballad, The Butcher Boy, published by H. De Marsan (New York, N.Y.) circa 1860, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 18(72) ....####
A variant was collected in 1959 as The Butcher Boy from Mrs. Wallace Kinslow of Isle aux Morts, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.707-708, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
A variant was also collected in 1959 from Mrs. Thomas (Annie) Walters of Rocky Harbour, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as She Died In Love in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.705-706, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that some of the most beautiful lyric verse in the English language is to be found in this traditional ballad and its relations. The relationships and cross-influences among all these songs is so complex that it is doubtful if the "original" will ever be discovered.
The YouTube video below features an excellent cover performance by Stephen Rowe of Heart's Content and Gander, NL.