Sheath and Knife

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"Sheath and Knife" (Roud 3960,[1] Child 16) is a folk ballad.[2]


A woman is pregnant with her brother's child. He takes her to the greenwood to have her child, but she dies (or he kills her at her request). He buries her and laments her death.


"Leesome Brand", Child ballad 15, is closely related to this ballad, and some variants are hard to distinguish;[3] the hero laments the death in the same language as "Sheath and Knife".

Other ballads on this theme include "The Bonny Hind", "The King's Dochter Lady Jean", and "Lizie Wan".[4]


  • Ewan MacColl sang this ballad and it is included on the collection Black & White.
  • Broadside Electric included it on the 1996 album More Bad News ... and again on the 2002 album "Live: Do Not Immerse".
  • Sol Invictus (band) has a live version on the 1994 album "The Death of the West".
  • Maddy Prior has a version on her 1998 album "Flesh & Blood".
  • Helen Bonchek Schneyer performed an a cappella version on her Folk-Legacy album Ballads, Broadsides and Hymns.
  • Dead Raven Choir performed a harsh black metal version on their 2001 EP "Sheath & Knife". It can also be found in remastered form on their "Cask Strength Black Metal" compilation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sheath and Knife; Or, Leesome Brand". Roud Folksong Index (S319654). Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved Nov 17, 2015.
  2. ^ Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads "Sheath and Knife"
  3. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 1, p 178, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  4. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v 1, p 185, Dover Publications, New York 1965