A Maid in Bedlam

Bedlam Hospital

It’s thanks to the British composer and folk music collector Gustav Holst that I encountered this song as a teenager through his choral setting. I’ve always been haunted by its melody and its story – good reasons to learn a song.

Abroad as I was walking
One evening in the spring
I heard a maid in Bedlam
So sweetly for to sing
Her chain she rattled with her hands
And thus replied she

Chorus: I love my love
Because I know
My love loves me

Oh my cruel parents
Are being too unkind
They drove and punish me
And trouble my mind
For though I’m ruined for his love
Contented will I be


Would I become a swallow
Ascend into the air
And if I lost my lover
And could not find him there
I quickly would become a fish
And search the flowing sea


With straw I’ll make a garland
And dress it very fine
I’ll mix the wame with roses
Lily pink and tyne
I will preserve it for my love
When he returns from sea


Just as she was sadly weeping
Her love came on the land
Hearing she was in Bedlam
He ran straight out of hand
And as he entered into the gates
He heard her sigh and say


He stood and gazed on her
Hearing his love complain
He could not stand any longer
He bled in every vein
He flew in to her snowy white arms
And thus replied he



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