Matty Groves


A holiday, a holiday
And the first one of the year
Lord Darnell’s wife came into the church
The gospel for to hear

And when the meeting it was done
She cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves
Walking in the crowd

“Come home with me, little Matty Groves
Come home with me tonight
Come home with me, little Matty Groves
And sleep with me till light”

“Oh, I can’t come home, I won’t come home
And sleep with you tonight
By the rings on your fingers I can tell
You are Lord Darnell’s wife”

“What if I am Lord Darnell’s wife?
Lord Darnell’s not at home
For he is out in the far cornfields
Bringing the yearlings home”

And a servant who was standing by
And hearing what was said
He swore Lord Darnell he would know
Before the sun would set

And in his hurry to carry the news
He bent his breast and ran
And when he came to the broad mill stream
He took off his shoes and swam

Little Matty Groves, he lay down
And took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Darnell
He was standing at his feet

Saying “How do you like my feather bed?
And how do you like my sheets?
How do you like my lady who lies
In your arms asleep?”

“Oh, well I like your feather bed
And well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady gay
Who lies in my arms asleep”

“Well, get up, get up,” Lord Darnell cried
“Get up as quick as you can!
It’ll never be said in fair England
That I slew a naked man”

“Oh, I can’t get up, I won’t get up
I can’t get up for my life
For you have two long beaten swords
And I not a pocket-knife”

“Well it’s true I have two beaten swords
And they cost me deep in the purse
But you will have the better of them
And I will have the worse”

“And you will strike the very first blow
And strike it like a man
I will strike the very next blow
And I’ll kill you if I can”

So Matty struck the very first blow
He hurt Lord Darnell sore
Lord Darnell struck the very next blow
And Matty struck no more

And then Lord Darnell he took his wife
And he sat her on his knee
Saying “Who do you like the best of us
Matty Groves or me?”

And then up spoke his own dear wife
Never heard to speak so free
“I’d rather a kiss from dead Matty’s lips
Than you and your finery”

Lord Darnell he jumped up
And loudly he did bawl
He struck his wife right through the heart
And pinned her against the wall

“A grave, a grave!” Lord Darnell cried
“To put these lovers in
But bury my lady at the top
For she was of noble kin”

Geoff Grainger writes: Matty Groves is an ancient ballad following the time-old plot of seduction (aristocratic lady and commoner whereby the lady is the chief instigator), marital disloyalty and retribution in the form of a duel with the marriage breaker and homicide of the disloyal wife by the jealous and vengeful husband.

As sung by Fairport Convention.