Edward [Child 13]

DESCRIPTION: A mother questions her son about his recent deeds and the blood on his weapon. After many evasions, he reveals that he has killed his brother. He may then leave home, perhaps in a bottomless boat
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy)
KEYWORDS: homicide brother questions
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber),England) US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) Ireland
REFERENCES (49 citations):
Child 133, "Edward" (2 texts)
Bronson 13, "Edward" (25 versions -- of which, however, #10 is actually "Lizie Wan" -- plus 2 in addenda)
BronsonSinging 13, "Edward" (5 versions: #2, #3.2, #8, #11, #22)
BarryEckstormSmyth p. 433, "Edward" (notes only)
Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 82-84, "Edward, Edward" (1 text)
ChambersBallads, pp. 290-291, "Edward, Edward" (1 text)
Tunney-StoneFiddle, pp. 111-112, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBoyle 25, "What Brought the Blood?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 6, "What Blood on the Point of Your Knife" (3 texts plus a fragment, 3 tunes) {A= Bronson's#9, B=#6a, D=#23}
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 21-23, "What Blood on the Point of Your Knife" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 6A) {Bronson's #9}
Eddy 6, "Edward" (1 fragmentary text that might be this or "Lizie Wan")
Flanders/Olney, pp. 100-101, "Edward" [listed in error as Child 12] (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}; see also "Edward Ballad" on pp. 96-100, which is closer to "The Twa Brothers"
Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 208-212, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Davis-Ballads 7, "Edward" (4 texts plus a fragment; two tunes entitled "What Is That On the End of Your Sword," "Edward"; 1 more version mentioned in Appendix A) {Bronson's #19, #22}
Davis-More 8, pp. 60-67, "Edward" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
BrownII 7, "Edward" (3 texts)
BrownSchinhanIV 7, "The Twa Sisters" (1 text plus an excerpt, 2 tunes)
Joyner, pp. 33-34, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Morris, #149, "Edward" (2 texts)
Hudson 5, pp. 70-72, "Edward" (2 texts)
Ritchie-Southern, pp. 6, "Eward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 180-184, "Edward" (3 texts, with local titles "Edward," (no title), "The Murdered Brother"; 3 tunes on pp. 404-406) {Bronson's #5, [b], #3}
Moore-Southwest 8, "My Son Come Tell It To Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 59-63, "How Come That Blood on Your Shirt Sleeve" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #21}
Owens-2ed, pp. 11-14, "How Come That Blood on Your Shirt Sleeve" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
JHCoxIIA, #4, pp. 16-18, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 85-88, "Edward" (3 texts)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 7-11, "Son Davie," "Edward" (2 texts)
OBB 65, "Edward, Edward" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 156, "Edward" (2 texts)
PBB 63, "Edward" (1 text)
Niles 10, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 9, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Gummere, pp. 169-170+342, "Edward" (1 text)
SharpAp 8 "Edward" (10 texts, some of them fragmentary, 10 tunes; the "B" and "F" fragments might be "Lizie Wan") {Bronson's #13, #20, #11, #1, #7, #16, #14, #15, #12, #8}
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 8, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
Wells, pp. 103-104, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
Hodgart, p. 119, "Edward" (1 text)
MacSeegTrav 5, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
TBB 7, "Edward" (2 texts)
LPound-ABS, 9, pp. 23-24, "Edward" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 59-60, "How Come That Blood?" (1 text)
Morgan-Medieval, pp. 13-15, "Edward, Edward" (1 text)
HarvClass-EP1, pp. 56-58, "Edward" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 223, "Edward" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Bob Stewart, _Where Is Saint George? Pagan Imagery in English Folksong_, revised edition, Blandford, 1988, pp. 31-32, "Edward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #421, "Edward" (1 text)
Maud Karpeles, _Folk Songs of Europe_, Oak, 1956, 1964, p. 4, prints the Danish version, "Svend I Rosensgaard," with a loose English translation; the first few verses are quite close to the English, then turns to a list of impossible wonders

ST C013 (Full)
Roud #200
Mary Ellen Connors, Jeannie Robertson, Thomas Moran, Angela Brasil [composite] "Edward" (on FSBBAL1) {cf. Bronson's #3.1 in addenda}
Mary Delaney, "What Put the Blood?" (on Voice17)
Charles Ingenthron, "Edward" [singer calls it, "The Little Yellow Dog," but the LC folklorists retitle it "Edward"] (AFS; on LC12) {Bronson's #6(b)}
Jean Ritchie, "Edward" (on JRitchie02)
Jeannie Robertson, Paddy Tunney, Angela Brasil [composite] "Edward" (on FSB4) {cf. Bronson's #3.1 in addenda}
Paddy Tunney, "Son, Come Tell It To Me" (on IRPTunney01); "What Put the Blood?" (on Voice03); "What Put the Blood on Your Right Shoulder, Son" (on IRPTunney02)
Mrs. Crockett Ward, "Edward" (AFS; on LC57)

cf. "Lizie Wan" [Child 65] (plot, lyrics)
Son Davie, Son Davie
What's That Blood On Your Sword?
The Murdered Brother
Dear Son
NOTES: This song and "Lizie Wan" have cross-fertilized so heavily (especially in the ending, where the murderous son is cross-examined) that it is often not possible to tell fragmentary versions apart. Eddy's text, for instance, has only the questions and answers, and might be either song.
Bertrand Bronson, in his essay "Edward, Edward, A Scottish Ballad" (reprinted in Bronson, The Ballad as Song (essays on ballads), University of California Press, 1969, pp. 1-17) makes the point that this song is often included in literary anthologies as one of the best examples of the ballad art. But, he observes, it is always the Percy version which gets printed -- and this has several problems. First is a point raised by Motherwell: how does a ballad of probably-Scottish origin come to have a hero named "Edward" (as in "Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots")? (p. 3 in the essay as printed in The Ballad as Song). Second, the ending in which Edward concludes by accusing his mother of plotting the whole thing occurs only in the Percy version, and that this produces the absurd situation of the mother and son both knowing what is going on and hiding it -- it's Hamlet and Claudius hunting each other, not a genuine murder mystery (this is in the "footnote" on pp. 15-17). And none of the other versions show this. And the Percy version cannot be traced back beyond Percy's source Lord Hailes. Bronson concludes, as Archer Taylor also concluded, that the Percy text, in addition to Percy's usual practice of archaizing and fouling up the spelling, has been rewritten to be more dramatic. Bronson's argument strikes me as very compelling, particularly since we know that Percy was often guilty of such things.
Stewart makes a great deal of the fact that, in his text, the brothers were fighting about "a little hazel bush," observing that the hazel was the "sacred tree of Irish wisdom." Of course, this ignores the fact that, in many versions of the song, it is a holly bush, or in one instance a juniper bush, or just a bush, or sprout, of unspecified type. We could, of course, find a magic explanation for each kind of tree, but the evidence is that the species doesn't matter. The key is probably not the type of tree but the fact that it is *little* -- so, perhaps, a young girl over whom the brothers quarrel.
Stewart also sees this as a sort of sequel to "The Twa Brothers" [Child 49]. Thematically, certainly, "Edward" is a logical follow-on to the versions of "The Twa Brothers" which involve a fight over a girl (a small subset of the whole). But, of course, that does not mean that they are related. It is interesting to see that none other than Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) seems to have connected them, however. One of his earliest poems, written while he was still a schoolboy, is called "The Two Brothers," and the opening is quite similar to "The Twa Brothers" [Child 49]; it begins
There were two brothers at Twyford school,
And when they had left the place,
It was, "Will ye learn Greek and Latin?
Or will ye run me a race?
Or will ye go up to yonder bridge,
And there will we angle for dace?"
Later verses are more reminiscent of "Edward" [Child 13] or "Lizzie Wan" [Child 51]:
"Oh what bait's that upon your hook,
Dear brother, tell to me?"
"It is my younger brother," he cried,
"Oh woe and dole is me?"
[ ... ]
"And when will you come back again,
My brother, tell to me?"
"When chub is good for human food,
And that will never be!"
(for a photo of these verses, see Robert Douglas-Fairhurt, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, Belknap/Harvard, 2015, p. 75)
The final verse might be from "It Was A' For Our Rightful' King" or similar:
She turned herself right round about,
And her heart brake into three,
Said, "One of the two will be wet through and through,
And 'tother'll be late for his tea."
The idea of a guilty person going to sea in a bottomless boat is old and widespread; see e.g. the Grimm tale of "The Three Snake-Leaves," which ends with a guilty princess and her lover being sent to sea in a box full of holes.
Algernon Charles Swinburne rewrote and expanded this as "The Bloody Son." I can't see that it is an improvement in form, and the dialect is forced. Natascha Wurtzbach (in Joseph Harris, editor, The Ballad and Oral Literature, Harvard University Press, 1991, p. 187) notes a similarity to A. E. Housman's "Farewell to barn and stack and tree," which involves a murder and a man leaving home. I grant the similarity of themes, but I really doubt actual dependence. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: C013

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