Babylon (ballad)

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"Babylon" or "The Bonnie Banks o Fordie" is Child ballad 14,[1] Roud 27.

Mr. Motherwell gives a version under the title of Babylon; or, the Bonny Banks o' Fordie; and Mr. Kinloch gives another under the title of The Duke of Perth's Three Daughters. Previous editors have attempted to find a local habitation for this tradition, and have associated it with the family of Drummond, of Perth. As a legend exactly similar is current in Denmark. this appears a bootless quest.

— John S. Roberts (1887)[2]


An outlaw comes upon three sisters in the woods. He threatens each one in turn to make her marry him. The first two refuse and are killed. The third threatens him with her brother or brothers. He asks after them and discovers that he is the brother. He commits suicide.


Forms of this ballad are known throughout all of Scandinavia ("Töres döttrar i Wänge").[3]


Following are some of the notable recordings of the ballad, including the artists, titles, albums, and years:

Artist Title Album Year
Dick Gaughan "The Bonnie Banks o Fordie" No More Forever 1972
Malinky "The Bonnie Banks O Fordie: Pennknivsmördaren" The Unseen Hours 2005
Broadside Electric "Babylon" More Bad News ... 1996
Nic Jones "The Bonnie Banks of Fordie" Landmarks (compilation) 2006
John Jacob Niles "Bonnie Farday" (aka "Babylon") My Precarious Life in the Public Domain 2006
Old Blind Dogs "The Bonnie Banks O' Fordie" New Tricks 1997
Alastair Roberts "Babylon" What News 2018

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "Babylon or The Bonnie Banks o Fordie"
  2. ^ Roberts, John S., ed. (1887) The Legendary Ballads of England and Scotland. London: Frederick Warne; p. 194
  3. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v. 1, p. 171, New York: Dover Publications, 1965

External links[edit]