Helen of Kirconnell
DESCRIPTION: The singer laments, "I wish I were where Helen lies." The two had been together when Helen was shot and died. The singer pursues and kills her slayer, then promises to be true forever. The rest of the song is a wish to join his love in death
AUTHOR: (published by Robert Burns)
EARLIEST DATE: 1797 (_Scots Musical Museum_ #155); seemingly also in Herd
KEYWORDS: courting love death revenge
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishSong, p. 227, "Helen of Kirkconnell" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 152, "Helen of Kirconnell" (1 text)
HarvardClassics-EnglishPoetryChaucerToGray, pp. 324-325, "Helen of Kirconnell" (1 text)
Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex, ZN1856, "My sweetest sweet and fairest fair"
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #589, p. 39, "Fair Helen" (1 reference)
ADDITIONAL: James Johnson, Editor, _The Scots Musical Museum_ [1853 edition], volume II, #155, p. 163, "Where Helen Lies" (1 text, 1 tune)
The Illustrated Book of Scottish Songs from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century, (London, 1854 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 159-160, "Helen of Kirkconnell"
William & Susan Platt, _Folktales of the Scottish Border_, published 1919 as _Stories of the Scottish Border_, republished by Senate Press, 1999, pp. 96-98, "Fair Helen of Kirconnell" (1 text)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #424, "Helen of Kirconnell" (1 text)
ST OBB152 (Full)
cf. "Alas And Did My Savior Bleed" (tune)
I Wish I Were Where Ellen Lies
NOTES [38 words]: Under the title "Fair Helen," this is one of the handful of traditional songs in Palgrave's Golden Treasury (item CXXXV).
This song, or the folktale that underlies it, is said to have inspired Wordsworth's "Ellen Irwin." - RBW
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