Fire and Hemlock again (much trimmed)

Charles Butler hannibal at
Sat May 22 04:17:11 EDT 2004


> Tom O'Bedlam?  Now, I'd never seen *him* as being one of Laurel's - and
> taking a look back at the ballad, still don't see it as terribly likely.
> Unless it's describing his state of mind *after* she casts him out?

One of the strange things about Tom 'of Bedlam's song is that it's not his
song at all, as far as I can see, but Mad Maudlin's - who I suppose could at
a pinch be described as a kind of East-of-the-Sun type heroine, searching in
impossible places for her missing man: 'Ten leagues beyond the wide world's
end/ Methinks it is no journey'. And then there's this, which at another and
more painful pinch might refer to Laurel:

No gypsy, slut or doxy
Shall win my mad Tom from me
I'll weep all night, with stars I'll fight
The fray shall well become me.

But this is is selective quoting. (The whole thing's at, for anyone who's
interested.) It's certainly not as obvious a source (to me) as the other two
ballads it could be a kind of insane version of the same story - or a
version with a less happy ending.


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