Modern Street Ballads


Young William for honour and fame went to sea,
And many a battle and storm weathered he,
But, the wars being over, he homeward returned,
For love of his Mary in his bosom did burn.
      Faithful and true was the youth.

With a heart light and buoyant to Mary did haste,
With joy she wept, and her William embraced,
Of his parents he asked, and she mournfully sighed,
That home, once your joy, is, now, wretched, she cried,
      Your parents are bowed down in grief.

Scarce one short month of your absence was spent,
When the Landlord’s vile agent seized on them for rent,
Sold their cow, all they had, for a twelve months’ arrears,
Nor heeded their anguish, but laughed at their years,
      No succour, alas! could I bring.

Oh, Mary, cried William, while his tears fast did flow,
This night to my parents, disguised I will go,
In he morning what rapture through their bosoms will run,
When they find that the stranger is William, their son,
      For they know not from sea, I’ve returned.

He went as a stranger, admittance did crave,
As a stranger, a welcome from them he received,
How chang’d was his father, once healthy and neat,
His mother thro’ want, could scarce move from her seat.
      And want seem’d to dwell in each face.

Some gold from his purse on his father he prest,
Took his leave for the night and retired to rest,
Alas! from his pillow he never rose more,
Before morning sun beamed, he was dead in his gore.
      He died by the hand of his sire.

Ah! see, in the morning, poor Mary she came,
And asks for her lover, her William, by name,
Our William’s not here both the parents replied,
Oh yes! smiled Mary, he came here disguised.
      As a stranger, he’s dwelling with you.

Oh God! cried the father, then what have I done?
Thro’ gold, cursed gold, I have murdered my son,
Then with the same weapon himself did destroy,
Saying, thus I avenge thee, Oh, William, my boy!
      Oh, Mercy! he cried and expired.

The mother soon died and was laid in the tomb,
And Mary, a maniac wildly did roam,
All did her pity, though none could her save,
She was found dead and cold on her true lover’s grave,
      On the grave of her lover so true.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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