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|William Barrett notes this was popular through the 18th century in England. He collected it from a tavern in Slinfold. It is also known as Mary on the Wild Moor, The Wild Moor, When Mary Came Wandering Home and Winds Blew Across the Wild Moor.
The ballad was also known in America and is in collections of ballads from Wisconsin and the Ozark Mountains.
'Twas one cold winter's night when the wind
It blew bitter across the wild moor,
When poor Mary she came with her child,
Wandering home to her own father's door.
She cried, 'Father! oh pray let me in!
Do come down and open your door,
Or the child at my bosom will die
With the wind that blows 'cross the wild moor.'
'Why did I e'er leave this fair cot,
Where once I was happy and free;
Doom'd now to roam, without friend or home,
Oh! dear father, take pity on me.'
But her father was deaf to her cries,
Not a voice, not a sound reached the door
But the watch dog's bold bark and the wind
That blew loudly across the wild moor.
But now think what the father he felt
When he came to the door in the morn
And found Mary, the child still alive,
Fondly clasped in its dead mother's arms.
Wild and frantic he tore his grey hairs,
As on Mary he gazed at the door.
Who in the cold night had perished and died
With the wind that blew 'cross the wild moor.
Now the father in grief passed away,
The poor child to its mother went soon.
And no one has lived there till this day,
And the cottage to ruin has gone.
And the villagers point out this cot,
Where the willow droops over the door, -
There Mary died, once our village pride,
while the wind blew across the wild moor.
|From English Folk-Songs
See Bibliography for full information.