“The Damsel's Tragedy”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Flanders/Brown)
Keywords: love courting homicide betrayal suicide ghost mother children
Found in: US(NE)

Description

When her son falls in love with a girl she finds unsuitable, his mother first blusters, then murders the girl. The girl's ghost walks to tell her lover. The son accuses his mother, then kills himself. The mother completes the circle by committing suicide

Supplemental text

Damsel's Tragedy, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Helen Hartness Flanders & George Brown, Vermont Folk-Songs
& Ballads, pp. 97-98. A fragment, with explanatory interludes,
from Josepha Cobb. Collected September 3, 1930.

    Boy's mother wishes to put girl away, takes walk with girl

She changed the scene and showed a hateful spleen.
She says, "Mother, what do you mean?"
"What I mean you soon shall find.
This sorry knife is designed
To pierce your heart. You have ensnared my son
Whose heart was quickly won, I'll undo all that's done,
Here in this place." So stabbed her straight.

(15 additional lines plus two interludes)

Notes

Although most of the themes in this song are commonplace, this strikes me as just a little too Antigone-ish to be real. Certainly it didn't become widespread. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Flanders/Brown, pp. 97-98, "The Damsel's Tragedy" (1 text)
  2. ST FlBr097 (Partial)
  3. Roud #4663
  4. BI, FlBr097