The Holland Handkerchief

For Halloween this year I have to post one of my favorite “ghost ballads.” You have to listen to the whole song to find the ghost, but it’s worth it. I first heard it off of Connie Dover back in the mid ’90s. Here’s it’s sung by Mary McPartlan.

The Holland Handkerchief

A wealthy squire he lived in our town
And he was a man of high renown
He had one daughter, a beauty bright
And the name he called her was his Heart’s Delight

Many young man far to court her came
But none of them could her favour gain
Till there came one of the low degree
And above them all why she’d fancy he

But when her father he came to know
That his lovely daughter loved this young man so
Over fifty miles he sent her away
All to deprive her of her wedding day

One night as she lay in her bedroom
Her lover appeared from out the gloom
He touched her hand and to her did say
“Arise my darling and come away”

‘Twas with this young man she got on behind
And they rode swifter than any wind
They rode on for an hour or more
Till he cries, “My darling, my head feels sore!”

A Holland handkerchief she’s then drew out
And with it wrapped his aching head about
She’s kissed his lips and these words did say
“My love, you’re colder than any clay”

When they arrived at her father’s gate
He said, “Get down, love, for the hour is late!
Get down, get down, love, and go to bed
And I’ll see this gallant horse is groomed and fed”

And when she’s arrived at her father’s hall
“Who’s that, who’s that?” her own father called
“It is I dear father, didn’t you send for me
By such a messenger”, and she’s named he

“Oh no dear daughter, that can never be
Your words are false love, and you lie to me
For on yon far mountain your young man died
And in yon green meadow well his body lies”

The truth then dawned upon this lady brave
And with her friends they exposed his grave
There lay her love though nine months dead
With the Holland handkerchief tied round his head

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