“The Holly Twig”


The singer finds that his new wife is a scold and a nag. He recounts his misery day by day. After a few days he goes to the woods and cuts a (holly twig), (whipping her so hard her soul is sent to hell). (A devil/her father comes to take her back).

Long description

On Monday the singer marries; on Tuesday he cuts a holly stick; on Wednesday he beats her with the stick until it breaks. On Thursday she takes sick (presumably from the beating); he says if she isn't better by tomorrow the devil can take her. On Friday the devil takes her. On Saturday the bells toll her death and the singer is jolly. On Sunday he relaxes alone, saying "Here's good luck to a week's work's end."

Cross references


  • Ollie Gilbert, "Willow Green" (on LomaxCD1707)


  1. Laws Q6, "The Holly Twig"
  2. Randolph 367, "I Married Me a Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BrownII 184, "The Holly Twig" (2 texts)
  4. Chappell-FSRA 43, "The Holly Twig" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  5. Hudson 58, pp. 174-175, "The Holly Twig" (1 text)
  6. SharpAp 53, "The Holly Twig" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  7. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 246, "The Holy Twig" (sic.) (1 text, which the singer knew to be defective and in which the wood, rather than being holly, is willow)
  8. Shellans, pp. 16-17, "The Brisk Young Bachelor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Niles 59, "The Unwilling Bride" (1 text, 1 tune, listed as Child 277 but appearing to me to be more similar to this ballad)
  10. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 78-79, "On Monday Morning" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Abrahams/Foss, pp. 72-73, "Scolding Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. DT 520, HOLLYTWG*
  13. Roud #433
  14. BI, LQ06


Alternate titles: “A Week's Work Well Done”; “A Bachelor Bold and Young”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1760 (_West Country Garlands_)
Found in: Britain(England(West,South)) US(Ap,MW,SE,So)