Bruton Town
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Bruton Town is variously called Bramble Briar, The Merchant's Daughter, The Jealous Brothers and In Bruton Town.

The story appears as early as the 14th century in a collection by Boccaccio as Isabella and the Pot of Basil. It also appears in a collection by Hans Sachs in the 16th century. Sachs' heroine is Lisabetha and he indicates the Italian tradition is that the town was Messina. Cecil Sharp noted the tune was popular with minstrels in the Middle Ages.

It is probably also related to an Appalachian tune The Constant Farmer's Son.

In Bruton Town there lived a farmer
Who had two sons and one daughter dear.
By day and night they were conniving,
To fill their parents' hearts with fear.
One told his secret to none other,
But unto his brother this he said,
"I think our servant courts our sister,
And I think they have a mind to wed."

If he our servant courts our sister,
That maid from such a shame I'll save.
I'll put an end to all their courtship,
And send him silent to his grave.
A day of hunting was prepared,
In thorny woods where briars grew.
And there they did that young man a murder,
And in the brake his fair body threw.

Now welcome home, my dear young brothers,
Our servant man is he behind?
We've left him where we've been a hunting,
We've let him where no man can find.
She went to bed crying and lamenting,
Lamenting for her own true love.
She slept, she dream'd, she saw him by her,
All cover'd o'er in a gore of blood.

You rise up early tomorrow morning
And straightway to the brake you know,
And then you'll find my body lying,
All cover'd o'er in a gore of blood.
Then she rose early the very next morning,
Unto the garden brake she went,
And there she found, her own dear jewel
All cover'd o'er in a gore of blood.

She took her kerchief from her pocket,
And wiped his eyes though he was blind;
Because he was my own true lover,
My own true lover and friend of mine.
And since my brothers have been so cruel
To take your tender sweet life away,
One grave shall hold us both together
And along with you in death I'll stay.
From One Hundred English Folksongs
See Bibliography for full information.