Sunday, January 08, 2006

Poor Babes in the Woods

My mother would sing this song to us kids when we were little. When I had children I would sing it, but never being able to get to the end with out crying.

My dears do you know
How a long time ago
Two little children,
Whose names I don’t know,
Were stolen away
On a fine summers day,
And left in the woods,
I’ve heard people say.

And when it was night,
So sad was their plight.
The sun, it went down,
And the moon gave no light.
They sobbed and they sighed,
And they bitterly cried,
And the poor little things
Laid down and died.

And when they were dead,
The robin, so red,
Brought strawberry leaves,
And over them spread.
All the day long
He sang them this song:
Poor babes in the woods!
Poor babes in the woods!

I love how extensive the has become since I first tried to research this song!

I have found a journal page Banshee Babes that has this song and a poem that mirrors an old English story of a couple with a boy of 3 and a girl not quite 2. The man falls ill, his wife follows and when they realize they will both die, he find a gentleman to take care of the children who are to inherit the couples wealth. Once the couple are dead and the gentleman feels enough time has passed, he hires a couple of villains to do away with the beautiful children so that he might inherit their money.

The villains quarrel about killing the children and one slays the other and leaves the children alone in the woods where they die, never to be found.

I learned long before the internet was born that this story is based on a true story of a fairly well known and high ranking (nobility if I my memory serves me) couple who died when their children were small. The man who agreed to raise them, kept them for a while, then suddenly they were gone. He said he sent them away to school, but he wasn't believed.

Looking at all of the sites that contain this song, it is amazing to see how oral traditions continue to evolve from generation to the next! The written word, books, the internet and who knows what will come next, may end the amazing transformations of some stories. Who knows? I am glad I live in a time when our stores mimic our memories. We believe we know what happened, how it happened and all the details - Even after the story has been altered over the years. If we had written it down when it happened, the stories would not grow with us. I don't know if that is necessarily better.

No comments: