Roger McGuinn·The Folk Den


October 2014 • Henry Lee


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Derived from Child Ballad #68 “Young Hunting,” this classic tale of murder by a jilted lover is a good example of a Fatal Error. If Henry Lee had held his tongue about his love in that “Merry Green Land” he may have been able to escape his jealous girlfriend’s dagger.

Lyrics:
[E] Get down, [A] get down, [E] little Henry Lee, and stay all [B7] night [E] with me.
[E] The very best [A] lodging I [E] can afford will be fare [B7] better’n [E] thee.”
 [A] “I can’t get down, and I [E] won’t get down, and [A] stay all night with [B7] thee,
[E] For the girl I [A] have in that [E] merry green land, I love far [B7] better’n [E] thee.”

She leaned herself against a fence, just for a kiss or two;
With a little weapon-knife in her hand, she plugged him through and through.
”Come all you ladies in the town, a secret for me to keep,
With a diamond ring held on my hand I’ll never will be forsake.”

“Some take him by his lily-white hand, some take him by his feet.
We’ll throw him in this deep, deep well, more than one hundred feet.
Lie there, lie there, loving Henry Lee, till the flesh drops from your bones.
The girl you have in that merry green land still wants for your return.”

“Fly down, fly down, you little bird, and alight on my right knee.
Your cage will be of purest gold, in deed of property.”
”I can’t fly down, or I won’t fly down, and alight on your right knee.
A girl would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me.”

“If I had my bend and bow, my arrow and my string,
I’d pierce a dart so nigh your heart your wobble would be in vain.”
”If you had had your bend and bow, your arrow and your string,
I’d fly away to the merry green land and tell what I have seen.”


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