‘What Put the Blood?’, which Child included in his collection as ‘Edward’, was extremely popular amongst the Irish Travellers, having been recorded from them by the British collectors Jim Carroll and Pat McKenzie in the early seventies. Our version is greatly influenced by the singing of Mary Delaney, from County Tipperary, who can be heard singing it on their double CD From Puck to Appleby: Songs of the Irish Travellers in England (MTCD325-6). The internet blog ‘Murder Ballad Monday’ notes that ‘besides the typical dispersal in the English-speaking world, there are also many Scandinavian versions, some of which Child used in his work’. Child himself said that the song was ‘not only unimpeachable, but has ever been regarded as one of the noblest and most sterling specimens of the popular ballad’.
Where have you been all the long summer's day?
Son, come tell it unto me.
I've been hunting and fowling all the long whole day
And it's mama pardon me, and it's mama pardon me...
And what put the blood on your right shoulder?
That is the blood of the hare I caught,
That I killed most manfully.
The blood of the hare now it could never be so red.
That is the blood of my youngest brother,
That I killed most brutally.
What came between you and your brother?
It was mostly about the cutting of a rod,
That will never grow into a tree.
Then what will you do when your father comes home?
I will put my foot on board of a ship,
And I'll sail for a foreign country.
Then what will become of your own dear wife?
I will leave her there in her grief and despair,
And she'll see no more of me.
What will you do with your two fine babes?
I'll give one to my father and the other to you mother,
For to keep yis company.
And what will you do with your two greyhounds?
I will take the straps from around their necks,
And they'll race no more for me.
What will become of your houses and your land?
I will leave them there for the birds all in the air,
There’ll be no more welcomes there for me.
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