Earl Richard

from by Phil Edwards

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Child 68


The lady stood at her bower door,
At her bower door she stood
She heard the sound of a bridle rein;
And she hoped that it might be for good.

She thought it was her father dear,
Come riding over the land
But it was her true love Earl Richard,
Came riding to her right hand.

“Come down, come down, young Earl Richard,
You're welcome home to me,
To my cosy bed and the charcoal red
And the candles that burns so free.”

“O I can't come down and I won't come down
Nor come into your arms at all
For a finer girl than ten of you
Is a-waiting beneath the town wall.”

“Well, a finer girl than ten of me
I wonder now how that might be?
For a finer girl than ten of me
I'm sure that you never did see.”

Then he has leaned him across his saddle
For a kiss before they did part,
And she has taken a keen, long knife
And she's stabbed him to the heart.

Saying, “Lie there, lie there, young Earl Richard,
Until the flesh rots from your bones
And that finer girl than ten of me
Can weary waiting alone.”

But as she walked up on the high highway
She's spied a little bird up in the tree,
Saying, “O how could you kill that fine young man
As he was a-kissing of thee?”

“Come down, come down, you pretty little bird
And sit upon my right knee,
And your cage shall be made of the glittering gold
And the spokes of the best ivory.”

“I can't come down and I won't come down
To sit upon your right knee,
For as you did use that fine young man
I know that you would use me.”

“Then I wish I had my bended bow
And my arrow close to my knee.
I would fire a dart that would pierce your heart
As you sit there a-piping on the tree.”

“Ah, but you've not got your bended bow
And nor your arrows close to your knee.
So I'll fly away to that young man's home
And tell them what I did see.”

So she's gone back to her own house
And she's crossed the threshold with a moan,
And she has taken young Earl Richard
And she's laid him upon a stone.

Then she called to the servant girl
And unto her did say:
“There is a fine and a young man in my room
But it's time that he was away.”

So one has taken him by the shoulders,
And the other one took him by the feet
And they've thrown his body in the River Clyde
That runs so clear and so sweet.

And the deepest spot in Clyde’s water
It’s there they’ve thrown Earl Richard in
And they laid a turf on his breast-bone
To hold his body down.

But they had not crossed a rig of land,
A rig but barely one,
Before they saw Earl Richard’s father
Come riding all along.

“O where have you been, my gay lady?
And where have you been so late?
For I've come a-seeking for my eldest son
Who used to visit your gate.”

And there came a-seeking for young Earl Richard
Many lords and many knights.
And there came a-weeping for young Earl Richard
Full many's the lady bright.

And the lady turned around and about
And she swore by the sun and the moon
Saying, “I never saw your son Earl Richard
Since yesterday morning at noon.”

“I fear, I fear the Clyde’s waters
That run so swift and so deep
I fear, I fear your son has drowned
And under Clyde’s waters he does sleep.”

“So, who will dive from either bank
For gold and for fee?”
And the young men dived from either bank
But his body they could not see.

Then up and spoke that pretty little bird
A-sitting up high in the tree,
Saying, “O cease your diving, you divers bold,
For I'd have you to listen to me.”

“And I'd have you to cease your day diving
And dive all into the night.
For under the water where his body lies
The candles they burn so bright.”

So the divers ceased their day diving
And they dived late into the night.
And under the water where his body lay,
The candles they burned so bright.

And they have raised Earl Richard up
From out the deepest part,
And they've seen the wound deep into his chest
And the turf all across his heart.

And when his father did see this dreadful wound
He made such a mournful sound,
Saying, “Oh, who has killed my eldest son
Who held my hawk and hound?”

Then up and spoke the pretty little bird,
Saying, “What needs all this din?
For it was his true love took his life
And then threw his body in.”

“O blame not me,” the lady said,
“For it was the servant girl.”
So they built a fire of the oak and ash
And they put that servant girl in.

But the fire wouldn't take upon her cheek
And the fire wouldn't take upon her chin,
Nor would it take upon her hair
For she was free from the sin.

And when the servant girl touched the clay cold corpse,
A drop it never bled.
But when the lady laid a hand upon it
The ground was soon covered with red.

So they've taken out the servant girl
And they've put the lady in.
And the fire it reached a ruddy red,
And all because of her sin.

And the fire took fast upon her cheek,
And the fire took fast upon her chin,
And it sang in the points of her yellow hair,
And it was because of her sin.


from 52 Folk Songs: Orange, released June 11, 2012
Phil Edwards: vocal, recorder, drones




Phil Edwards Manchester, UK

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