Fair Margaret and Sweet William
Other titles or closely related songs: Lady Margaret and King [or Prince] William, Lady Margaret, Fair Margaret's Misfortune,
Sweet William arose one May morning and dressed himself in blue
Come and tell to me all about that love between Lady Margaret and you
Oh I know nothing of lady Margaretís love and she knows nothing of me
Oh itís in the morning at half-past eight Lady Margaret my bride shall see
Lady Margaret was sitting in her bower room a-combing back her hair
When who should she spy but sweet William and his bride as to church they did repair
And she threw down her ivory comb and tossed back her hair
And out of the room that fair lady ran and was never anymore seen there
The day passed away and the night coming on and most of the men asleep
Sweet William spied Lady Margaretís ghost a-standing at his bed feet
Oh how do you like your bed said she and how do you like your sheet
And how do you like that fair young bride a-laying in your arms at sleep
Oh well do I like my bed said he and well I like my sheet
But better do I love that fair young maid a-standing at my bed feet
The night passed away and the day coming on and most of the men awake
Sweet William said Iím troubled in my head by the dreams that I dreamed last night
Such dreams such dreams such dreams as these I know they mean no good
Last night I dreamed that my room was full of swine and my bride was floating in blood
He called his servants unto him by one by two by three
And the last he called was his new maid bride that Lady Margaret he might go see
Oh what will you do with Lady Margaretís love and what will you do with me?
He said Iíll go Lady Margaret to see and then Iíll return to thee
He rode up to Lady Margaretís door and jingled on the ring
And none so ready as her seventh born brother to rise and let him in
Oh is she in her kitchen room or is she in her hall?
Or is she in her bower room among her merry maids all?
Sheís neither in her kitchen room sheís neither in her hall
But she is in her cold coffin with her pale face toward the wall
Pull down pull down those winding sheets all made of satin so fine
Ten thousand times youíve kissed my lips and now love Iíll kiss thyn
Three times he kissed her snow white breast three times he kissed her chin
But when he kissed her cold clay lips his heart it broke within
Lady Margaret was buried in the old church yard sweet Williamís buried close by
And out of her grew a red, red rose and out of him a briar
They grew so tall and they grew so high they scarce could grown no higher
And there they twined in a true loverís knot, the red rose and the briar
There are many variations on this ballad, though the basic plot is the same. Moreover, there is much blending of lyrics with other, similar ballads. Some versions go into more detail about the previous relationship between William and Lady Margaret. Some explicitly describe a falling out and William marrying someone else as a result. Some versions leave out the end material about his vigorous kissing of her dead body and/or the red rose and the briar (which appear in other ballads). Of course, the ending of this ballad is reminiscent of Barbra Allen (Child #84).
What stands out in this version is the powerful image of William's room full of swine and his bride floating in blood. Yes, definitely a bad dream.