Ballads - an educational resource for teachers

Complete list of Childs' Ballads known for their bloodthirsty and tragic lyrics.

Francis J. Child
Ballads Biography, Lyrics, Tunes and Historical Information


The Lyrical Ballads - Wordsworth and Coleridge

Fleetwood Mac 'The Highwayman'



Phil Hare 'The Blacksmith'



Lamkin/Long Lankin lyrics

Miriam Backhouses' rendition of Long Lankin is surely one of the most thrilling.  Miriams' biography is in the artists section


A better man than Lambkin
He never built with stone.
He built Lord Wearie's castle
But of payment he got none

"O pay me Lord Wearie
O pay me my fee!"
"I cannot pay you Lambkin
For I'm going o'er the sea."

Lord Weary and his lady
Were walking on the quay
"Oh look our for bold Lambkin
When he comes up this way."

"Why should I look for Lambkin?
Why should I look out for him?
When my doors are fast bolted
And the windows all pinned in."

But the nurse was as false one
As ever hung on tree
She laid a plot with Lambkin
When her Lord was on the sea.

Lord Wearie hadn't gone long
When Lambkin came nigh
He knocked at the front door
And the Nurse let him by.

"Where are the men of the house
That calls me Lambkin?"
"They're in the barn threshing
And they'll not come in."

"Where are the women of the house
That call me Lambkin?"
"They're at the well washing
And they'll not come in."

"Where is the lady of the house?
Is she not within?"
"She's in her room sewing
And she'll not come in."

"What shall we do?" said Lambkin
"To make her come in."
""Pierce the babe in the cradle."
Said the false nurse to him.

So the Lambkin he pierced it
And the false nurse she sang
And the blood from the cradle
Through each bar it ran.

"O mistress, dear mistress
How can you sleep so fast?
Can't you hear young Sir Johnson
A crying his last?

"O, please my child Orange.
O, please him with the key."
"He won't be pleased lady
Not for all my nurses fee."

"O please my child Orange,
O please him with the wand."
"He won't be pleased lady.
Not for all his father's land."

"O please my child Orange
O please him with the bell."
"He won't be pleased lady.
'Til you come down yourself."

"How can I come down stairs,
On a cold winter's night
With no spark of fire burning
Nor no candle alight?"

"You've two Holland sheets there
As white as the snow.
I pray you come down here,
By the light of them do so."

Now the first step she's taken
She's trod on a stone,
And the next step she's taken
She's trod on Lambkin.

"O mercy, mercy, Lambkin.
O, mercy on me.
Although you've killed my Johnson
You shall have all your fee."

"If you'd give me the money,
Like the sands of the sea,
I'd not keep my sharp knife
From your white skin so free.

"Now, shall we kill her Orange?
Or shall we let her be?"
"O, kill her, kill her Lambkin
For she's been no good to me."

"Go fetch the silver basin,
Go scour it nice and clean,
For to catch the lady's heart blood
For she comes of noble kin."

"You need no basin Lambkin.
Let the blood run through the floor.
What's better than the heart blood
Of the rich, than of the poor?"

And with that, bold Lambkin
He stuck his knife keen.
And the rich lady's heart blood
It dropped on the stone.

Lord Wearie in a month or more
Came sailing o'er the foam
And sad and bitter was his heart
When he rode in his home.

There was blood in the nursery
There was blood in his hall
There was blood on the stairs
And her heart blood on all.

"Come here, come here, Lambkin
And I'll pay you your fee."
And the fee that he paid him,
He hung him on a tree,

"Come here, come here Orange
And I'll pay you your hire."
And the hire that he paid her,
He burnt her in the fire.



The Raggle Taggle Gypsy 'O Lyrics
(Traditional)

listen to Miriam Backhouses' soul jazz funk folk version !

My Playlist - Miriam Backhouse

There were three old gypsies came to our hall door
they came brave and boldly-o
And one sang high and the other sang low
and the other sang a raggle taggle gypsy-o

It was upstairs downstairs the lady went
put on her suit of leather-o
And there was a cry from around the door
she's away wi' the raggle taggle gypsy-o

It was late that night when the Lord came in
enquiring for his lady-o
And the servant girl she said to the Lord
"She's away wi' the raggle taggle gypsy-o"

"Then saddle for me my milk white steed
- my big horse is not speedy-o
And I will ride till I seek my bride
she's away wi' the raggle taggle gypsy-o"

Now he rode East and he rode West
he rode North and South also
Until he came to a wide open plain
it was there that he spied his lady-o

"How could you leave your goose feather bed
your blankeys strewn so comely-o?
And how could you leave your newly wedded Lord
all for a raggle taggle gypsy-o?"

"What care I for my goose feather bed
wi' blankets strewn so comely-o?
Tonight I lie in a wide open field
in the arms of a raggle taggle gypsy-o"

"How could you leave your house and your land?
how could you leave your money-o?
How could you leave your only wedded Lord
all for a raggle taggle gypsy-o?"

"What care I for my house and my land?
what care I for my money-o?
I'd rather have a kiss from the yellow gypsy's lips
I'm away wi' the raggle taggle gypsy-o!"
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updated: 7 years ago