Sunday, 7 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Under the Green Old Oak-Tree (Antigua)

Hello and welcome to Murder Story Monday as I follow on from my research about Child Ballad 10 (The Twa Sisters) and explore the prose versions of bones that sing or tell of their fate to extract their revenge.

This week a tale in dialect from Antigua entitled  Under the Green Oak Tree. 
It was collected by  John H. Johnson in "Folk-Lore from Antigua, British West Indies,"  in The Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. 34 (1921), Johnson's source was George W. Edwards, 50 years old, a native of Greenbay, Antigua.

This one bears some resemblance to the Hungarian version of Child ballad 10 entitled The Little Maple Tree that I discussed here in that the body of the girl was hidden in a tree and a bone was made into a musical instrument. The motif of the body parts being made into an instrument (in Child Ballad 10 most often a harp or fiddle, but in ATU 780 it is often a flute) is a common one in both song and story. 

This version comes from here
                                   Image result for the  singing bones
Under the Green Old Oak-Tree

Dis a nice little story. Der woman had two chil'ren. One was a boy, an' der oder was a girl. De fader a dese chil'ren die. Moder decide to marry again. She marry to anoder man. Each day dese chil'ren did go to de mountain to get flowers. Dey went on dis day. Girl had a better bucket den what de broder got. Dey comin' wid de flowers.

On his way home, de boy stop wid de gal. He t'inkin' some evil plan. Want dis bucket which was his sister. She would not consent to gi' him dis bucket. He t'ink it best to kill der sister. He kill de sister. He kill dis girl near to a big oak-tree. An' he hide her dere.

After he kill her, he go home. Can't give no account a he sister. Dey all went to search for de girl, but none can find her.

Der broder stay home. Month gone. Shepherd-boy dat is comin' down de mountain meet a big bone like a flute. He pick dis bone under dat same tree. He took up de bone an' play. Comin' home wid de flock, he play on de bone. It play a sweet tune:

My broder has killed me in de woods, an' den he buryth me.
My broder has killed me in de woods, an' den he buryth me
Under de green ol' oak-tree, an' den he buryth me.

Dat's all it could play. It play sweet, you know. Comin' home, all dat hear dis tune beg de boy for a play on it. He give dem a play. Now he way down de mountain. Mos' to where de moder is livin'. He meet de moder. She ask him for a play. He give her a play. As quick as she play, t'ing say:

My dear moder, my dear moder, it my dead bone you play.
My dear moder, my dear moder, it my dead bone you play.

She drop an' faint, but never die. All de people was lookin' for de girl. Dis broder meet de boy. He ask him for a play. Take de bone an' start. T'ing say:

My broder, it is you dat has killed me.
My broder, it is you dat has killed me.

An' dere he faints an' dies. Dat is de end a da green ol' oak-tree.

Stay tuned next week for a version of The Singing Bones from Italy. 

1 comment:

  1. If you had told this story at a pre-teen sleepover, I wouldn't have been able to sleep!