Rosetta and Her Gay Ploughboy
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This ballad was printed on broadsides in England and Scotland in the 19th century. A broadside of Rosetta and Her Gay Ploughboy was printed by J. Harkness (who printed between 1840 and 1866). Images of several of these broadsides can be found at the Broadside Ballads Online.

This version was collected by Lucy Broadwood in Sussex in 1893. She notes the "remarkable" similarity between this and an air named Bell Chimes in the ballad opera Silvia (1731). She also notes that one version of Bold William Taylor was sung to a similar tune.

You constant lovers give attention
While a tale to you I tell,
Concerning of two lovers true,
Who in one house for years did dwell:
Rosetta was a farmer's daughter,
And always was her parents' joy,
Till Cupid in a snare had caught her,
With her father's gay ploughboy.

At break of day each summer's morning
William for his horses went,
And as he viewed bright Phoebus dawning,
He would listen with content
To the voice of sweet Rosetta,
Which charmed young Williams heart with joy
With voice so shrill she loved young Will,
Who was her father's gay plough boy.

She sat and sung of her sweet William,
As she milked her spotted cow;
And he would sigh for his Rosetta
All the day while at the plough;
And as evening did approach,
Rosetta tript along with joy,
With voice so shrill, to meet young Will,
Who was her father's gay ploughboy.

Her father came into the dairy,
While she sung her tale of love,
He fixed his eyes to her surprise,
And swore by all the powers above
That he was told the hussy bold
Along with poverty did toy,
And that long time she had been courting
Of young Will, her gay ploughboy.

Rosetta said, My dearest father,
Shall I speak with courage bold?
I milk my cow, I love the plough,
I value William more than gold.
Then in a cellar he confined her,
Where no one could her annoy,
And with delight, both day and night,
She sighed for Will, her gay ploughboy.

Fifteen long months on bread and water
Sweet Rosetta was confined,
So fast in love had Cupid caught her,
No one thing could change her mind.
Her father strove with all his might
Her happiness for to destroy,
But nothing could Rosetta daunt,
She doated on her gay ploughboy.

At length grim death her father summoned
From this sinful world of care,
And then to his estate and fortune
Rosetta was the only heir.
Then she and William were united,
No one could their peace destroy,
The village bells did call Rosetta,
And young Will, her gay ploughboy.

For miles around the lads and lasses
Merrily for them did sing,
At their wedding all was joyful,
And the village bells did ring.
No couple can be more contented,
Their happiness none can destroy,
They sing with joy 'God speed the plough.'
Rosetta and her gay ploughboy.

From English Traditional Songs and Carols
See Bibliography for full information.