Willie's Lady [Child 6]

DESCRIPTION: Willie travels to woo and wed a wife. His mother, not approving of the bride, casts spells to ensure that she will never bear a child. Willie tricks his mother into believing the baby has been born, and the mother blurts out the way to lift the spell
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1783/1799 (Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland)
KEYWORDS: magic mother wife pregnancy childbirth
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Child 6, "Willie's Lady" (1 text)
Bronson 6, "Willie's Lady" (1 version)
Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland, pp. 180-185, "Sweet Willy/Willie's Lady" (2 parallel texts plus a photo of the badly-transcribed tune; also a reconstructed tune on p. 283)
Greig/Duncan2 346, "Simon's Lady" (1 text)
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland1, pp. 124-127, "Willie's Lady" (1 text, from print rather than tradition)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 64-66, "Willie's Lady" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 6, "Willy's Lady" (1 text)
Friedman-Viking/PenguinBookOfFolkBallads, p. 18, "Willie's Lady" (1 text)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 252-255+356, "Willie's Lady" (1 text)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 2, "Willie's Lady" (1 text, 1 tune in appendix) {Bronson's [#1]}

Roud #220
cf. "Gil Brenton" [Child 5] (lyrics)
NOTES [172 words]: At least one of the magic tricks described in this song is widespread in folklore: Pregnant women were supposed to remove all knots from their clothing to ease childbirth. - RBW
The Swedish ballad "Den Förtrollade Barnaföderskan (The Bewitched Mother-to-Be)" is essentially the same story, with variations in detail. - PJS
Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Ballad as Song (essays on ballads), University of California Press, 1969, p. 43, studying the text and tune of this, suggests that the tune collected from Mrs. Brown must have had an internal refrain, the text of which was not taken down. This apparently was a habit of the transcriber; he omitted the internal refrains of "Clerk Colvill," "Gil Brenton," and "Willie's Lady." Since Brown's is the only collected tune for this, particular attention should probably be paid to the idea. Alternately, perhaps, the internal refrain was sometimes but not always replaced by additional lyrics; this would explain the fact that some verses seem to be of two lines, some of three. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.0
File: C006

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