Folksongs Blog

"The Miller And The King's Daughter"

Appeared in a broadside "printed for Francis Grove, 1656"


This version of the Twa Sisters ballad also appears as Child 10A in Francis J. Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, originally published in the late 19th century.
In the following text, the burden is indicated in italics in the first stanza.
The form of each individual chorus is a-1-b-2, where a is the first line of the couplet, b is the second, and 1 and 2 are the first and second lines of the burden.

There were two sisters, they went playing,
With a hie downe done a downe-a
To see their father's ships come sayling in.
With a hy downe downe a downe-a

And when they came unto the sea-brynn,
The elder did push the younger in.

'O sister, O sister, take me by the gowne,
And drawe me up upon the dry ground.'

'O sister, O sister, that may not bee,
Till salt and oatmeale grow both of a tree.'

Somtymes she sanke, somtymes she swam,
Until she came unto the mill-dam.

The miller runne hastily downe the cliffe,
And up lie betook her withouten her life.

What did he doe with her brest-bone?
He made him a violl to play thereupon.

What did lie doe with her fingers so small?
He niade him peggs to his violl withall.

What did he doe with her nose-ridge?
Unto his violl he made him a bridge.

What did he doe with her veynes so blew?
He made him strings to his violl thereto.

What did he doe with her eyes so bright?
Upon his violl he played at first sight.

What tlid he doe with her tongue so rough?
Unto the violl it spake enough.

What did lie doe with her two shinnes?
Unto the violl they danc'd Moll Syms.

Then bespake the treble string,
'O yonder is my father the king.'

Then bespake the second string,
'O yonder sitts my mother the queen.'

And then bespake the strings all three,
'O yonder is my sister that drowned mee.'

'Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel's name.'

Other versions Year
Brown 1783 compare compare all
Kinloch 1820's compare
Quiller-Couch A 1910 compare
Quiller-Couch B 1910 compare
Ingenthron 1941 compare
Clannad 1976 compare