In this supernatural folksong, a beautiful, young, well-to-do maiden is confronted by her own mortality… literally.
From Mainly Norfolk:
The ballad Death and the Lady was collected in 1946 by Francis M. Collison from Mr Baker of Maidstone, Kent, and published in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd’s Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.
Waterson:Carthy sang Death and the Lady in 2002 with somewhat different verses on their fourth album, A Dark Light. Martin Carthy commented in the album’s sleeve notes:
Norma learned Death and the Lady from [the Cecil Sharp collection; One Hundred English Folk Songs(1916)]. It’s a dark song here and she did what was second nature to the Watersons in their heyday, transforming the tune by altering just a couple of notes.
Death and the Lady
As I walked out one day, one day
I met an aged man by the way.
His head was bald, his beard was grey,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay,
His clothing made of the cold earthen clay.
I said, “Old man, what man are you?
What country do you belong unto?”
“My name is Death—have you not heard of me?
All kings and princes bow down unto me
And you fair maid must come along with me.”