• A wealthy squire he lived in our town
  • And he was a man of high renown
  • He had one daughter, a beauty bright
  • And the name he called her was his Heart’s Delight.
  • Many a young man far to court her came
  • But none of them could her favour gain
  • Till there came one of the low degree
  • And above them all why she’d fancy he.
  • But when her father he came to know
  • That his lovely daughter loved this young man so
  • Over fifty miles he sent her away
  • All to deprive her of her wedding day.
  • One night as she lay in her bedroom
  • Her lover appeared from out the gloom
  • He touched her hand and to her did say
  • “Arise my darling and come away.”
  • ’Twas with this young man she got on behind
  • And they rode swifter than any wind
  • They rode on for an hour or more
  • Till he cries, “My darling, my head feels sore!”
  • A Holland handkerchief she’s then drew out
  • And with it wrapped his aching head about
  • She’s kissed his lips and these words did say
  • “My love, you’re colder than any clay.”
  • When they arrived at her father’s gate
  • He said, “Get down, love, for the hour is late!
  • Get down, get down, love, and go to bed
  • And I’ll see this gallant horse is groomed and fed.”
  • And when she’s arrived at her father’s hall
  • “Who’s that, who’s that?” her own father called
  • “It is I dear father, didn’t you send for me
  • By such a messenger,” and she’s named he.
  • “Oh no dear daughter, that can never be
  • Your words are false love, and you lie to me
  • For on yon far mountain your young man died
  • And in yon green meadow well his body lies.”
  • The truth then dawned upon this lady brave
  • And with her friends they exposed his grave
  • There lay her love though nine months dead
  • With the Holland handkerchief tied round his head.

The “Holland Handkerchief” is a ballad that is also known as “The Suffolk Miracle,” which is the title that Francis James Child used in his English and Scottish Popular Ballads. A Holland handkerchief refers to a particular pattern of the handkerchief’s weave. A lovely recent rendition of the song is done by the contemporary Celtic singer Connie Dover on her CD If Ever I Return. You can easily find it on YouTube.

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