Matty Groves

A 19th century Appalachian version of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard

Heigh ho, heigh ho holiday,
The best day of the year!
Little Matty Groves to church did go,
Some holy words to hear,
Some holy words to hear.

He spied three ladies dressed in black,
As they came into view;
Lord Arlen's wife was gaily clad,
A flower amongst the few,
A flower amongst the few.

She tripped up to Matty Groves,
Her eyes so low cast down,
Saying, 'Pray oh pray, come with me stay
As you pass through the town,
As you pass through the town.' --

'I would not go, I dare not go,
I fear it would cost my life,
For I see by the little ring you wear
You are Lord Arlen's wife,
You're the great Lord Arlen's wife.' --

'This may be true, this may be false,
I can't deny it all,
But Arlen's gone to consecrate
King Henry at Whitehall,
King Henry at Whitehall.

'Oh pray, oh pray, come with me stay,
I'll hide you out of sight,
I'll soothe you there beyond compare,
And sleep with you the night,
And sleep with you the night.'

The little page did listen well
To all that they did say,
And ere the sun could rise again
He quickly sped away,
He quickly sped away.

And he did run the King's highway,
He swam across the tide,
He ne'er did stop untill he came
Unto Lord Arlen's side,
To the great Lord Arlen's side.

'What's this, what's this, my bully boy,
What news brings you to me?
My castle burnt, my tenants robbed,
My lady with baby,
My lady with baby?' --

'No harm has come your house or lands,'
The little page did say,
'But Matty Groves is bedded up
With your fair lady gay,
With your fair lady gay.'

Lord Arlen called his merry men,
He bade them with him go,
He bade them not a word to speak,
Nor yet a horn to blow,
Nor yet a horn to blow.

But among Lord Arlen's merry men
Was one who wished no ill,
And the bravest lad in all the land
Blew his horn so loud and shrill,
Blew his horn so loud and shrill.

'What's this, what's this?' said Matty Groves,
'What's this that I do hear?
It must be Lord Arlen's merry men,
The ones that I do fear,
The ones that I do fear.' --

'Lie down, lie down, little Matty Groves,
And hug me from the cold,
It's only Lord Arlen's merry men
A-calling the sheep to fold,
A-calling the sheep to fold.'

Little Matty Groves he did lie down,
He took a nap of sleep,
And when he woke, Lord Arlen was
A-standing at his feet,
A-standing at his feet.

'Oh how do you like my bed,
And how do you like my sheets,
And how do you like my fair young bride
Who lies in your arms asleep,
Who lies in your arms asleep?' --

'It's well I like your bed,
And fine I like your sheets,
But it's best I like your fair young bride
Who lies in my arms asleep,
Who lies in my arms asleep.' --

'Rise up, rise up, little Matty Groves,
As fast as you can,
In England it shall not be said
I slew a sleeping man,
I slew a sleeping man.'

And the first stroke little Matty struck,
He hurt Lord Arlen sore,
But the next stroke Lord Arlen struck,
Little Matty struck no more,
Little Matty struck no more.

'Rise up rise, up my fair young bride,
Draw on your pretty clothes,
And tell me do you like me best
Or like your Matty Groves,
Or the dying Matty Groves?'

She picked up Matty's dying head,
Kissed it from cheek to chin,
Said, 'It's Matty Groves I'd rather have
Than Arlen and all his kin,
Than Arlen and all his kin.

'Oh woe is me and woe is thee,
Why stayed you not your hand?
For you have killed the fairest lad
In all of fair England,
In all of fair England.'

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