Programme 13 – Ballads (inc Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’)

La Belle Dame sans Merci by Frank Dicksee
La Belle Dame sans Merci by Frank Dicksee

In our 13th programme Lance reads four Ballads, and there is one traditional song. The song is ‘The Ballad of Barbara Allen’. The traditional Ballads are ‘Sir Patrick Spens’ and ‘Get up and Bar the Door’. The literary Ballads are John Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ and Charles Causley’s ‘Ballad of the Bread Man’.


‘Ballad of the Bread Man’ by Charles Causley is recorded by kind permission of the copyright holders’ agents, David Higham Associates.

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The Ballad of Barbara Allen

In Scarlet Town where I was born

There was a fair maid dwelling,

Made every youth cry ‘Well-a-day’;

Her name was Barbara Allen.


All in the merry month of May

When green buds they were swelling,

Young Jemmy Grove on his deathbed lay

For love of Barbara Allen.


He sent his man unto her then

To the town where she was dwelling.

‘You must come to my master dear,

If your name be Barbara Allen.’


So slowly, slowly she came up,

And slowly she came nigh him.

And all she said when there she came:

‘Young man, I think you’re dying.’


He turned his face unto her straight,

With deadly sorrow sighing:

‘O lovely maid, come pity me;

I’m on my deathbed lying.’


‘If on your deathbed you do lie,

What needs the tale you’re telling?

I cannot keep you from your death.

Farewell,’ said Barbara Allen.


When he was dead and laid in grave,

Her heart was struck with sorrow.

‘O mother, mother, make my bed,

For I shall die tomorrow.’


‘Farewell,’ she said, ‘ye virgins all,

And shun that fault I fell in.

Henceforth take warning by the fall

Of cruel Barbara Allen.’


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