The Butcher Boy


In London city where I did dwell
A butcher boy I loved right well
He courted me my life away
But now with me he will not stay

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I was a maid again
A maid again I ne’er will be
‘Til cherries grow on an ivy tree

I wish my baby it was born
And smiling on it’s daddy’s knee
And me, poor girl, to be dead and gone
With the long green grass growing over me

She went upstairs to go to bed
And calling to her mother, said:
“Give me a chair till I sit down
And a pen and ink till I write down”

At every word she dropped a tear
At every line cried: “Willie dear
Oh, what a foolish girl was I
To be led astray by a butcher boy”

He went upstairs and the door he broke
He found her hanging from a rope
He took his knife and he cut her down
And in her pocket these words he found:

“Oh, make my grave large, wide and deep
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
And in the middle, a turtledove
That the world may know that I died for love

This tragic and beautiful ballad is a variant of the widely known Gosport Tragedy. It has become very popular throughout Ireland, where everyone seems to have a soft spot for a nice sad love song.