The Cruel Mother
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

Information
Lyrics
According to Child, two fragments of this ballad appear in the last quarter of the 18th century. Child notes several versions of the tune including Fine Flowers in the Valley, The Rose o Malinde and the Minister's Daughter of New York. It is also known as Down By the Greenwood Side.

A broadside of The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty: Or the Wonderful Apparition of two Infants whom she Murther'd and Buried in a Forrest, for to hide her Shame was published in the 1690s.

This ballad is Child Ballad #20.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

There was a lady dwelt in York:
Fal the dal the di do,
She fell in love with her father's clerk,
Down by the green wood side.

She laid her hand against a stone,
Fal the dal the di do,
And there she made most bitter moan,
Down by the green wood side.

She took a knife both long and sharp,
Fal the dal the di do,
And stabb'd her babes unto the heart,
Down by the green wood side.

As she was walking home one day,
Fal the dal the di do,
She met those babes all dress'd in white
Down by the green wood side.

She said, "Dear children, can you tell,
Fal the dal the di do,
Where shall I go? To heav'n or hell?"
Down by the green wood side.

"O yes! dear mother, we can tell,
Fal the dal the di do,
For it's we to heav'n and you to hell."
Down by the green wood side.
Additional Versions
From One Hundred English Folksongs and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.
And Bruce Olsen's Roots of Folk: Old English, Scots, and Irish Songs and Tunes