Young Beichan

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Young Beichan
Ballad by Unknown
CatalogueChild Ballad 53
Textby unknown
Illustration by Arthur Rackham: Young Beckie in prison.

"Young Beichan" is a ballad, which with a number of variants and names such as "Lord Baker", "Lord Bateman", and "Young Bekie", was collected by Francis James Child in the late 19th century, and is included in the Child ballads as number 53 (Roud 40).[1]

Synopsis[edit]

Illustration by Arthur Rackham: Burd Isbel woken by Belly Blin, with the warning that Young Beckie is about to marry.

Beichan is born in London but travels to far lands. He is taken prisoner, with different captors appearing in different variations, usually being a Moor, though sometimes the king of France after Beichan fell in love with his daughter. Lamenting his fate, Beichan promises to be a son to any married woman who will rescue him, or a husband to an unmarried one. The daughter of his captor rescues him, and he leaves, promising to marry her.

He does not return. She sets out after him—in some variants, because warned by a household spirit, Belly Blin, that he is about to marry—and arrives as he is marrying another. In some variants, he is constrained to marry; often he is fickle. His porter tells him of a woman at his gate, and he instantly realizes it is the woman who rescued him. He sends his new bride home and marries her.

Variants[edit]

Elinborg waiting for Paetur, in a Faroese variant.

This ballad is also known in Norse, Spanish, and Italian variants.[2]

In a Scandinavian variant, "Harra Pætur og Elinborg" (CCF 158, TSB D 72), the hero set out on a pilgrimage, after asking the heroine, his betrothed, how long she would wait for him; she says, eight years. After the eight years, she sets out and the rest of the ballad is the same, except that Paetur has a reason for his fickleness: he was magically made to forget.[3]

The motif of a hero magically made to forget his love and remembering her on her appearance is common; it may even have been dropped from "Young Beichan", as the hero always returns to the heroine with a promptness of an enchantment breaking.[4] Other folktales with this motif include "Jean, the Soldier, and Eulalie, the Devil's Daughter", "The Two Kings' Children", "The Master Maid", "Anthousa, Xanthousa, Chrisomalousa", "Snow-White-Fire-Red", "The True Bride", and "Sweetheart Roland".

Traditional Recordings[edit]

In 1908 Percy Grainger made several wax cylinder recordings of traditional singers singing the ballad. Several of these were recorded in Lincolnshire (including one version by Joseph Taylor) and one in Gloucestershire; all of the recordings are available courtesy of the British Library Sound Archive.[5][6][7][8] Dozens of other traditional versions were recorded across England later in the twentieth century.[9] Several of these, some of which are fragments, can be heard on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, including a version the Dorset traveller Caroline Hughes sang to Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger in the 1960s,[10] a 1967 performance by a Frank Smith of Edenbridge, Kent,[11] and a 1960 version sung by Tom Willet of Ashford, Surrey.[12]

The Scottish traditional singer Jeannie Robertson sang a version to Peter Kennedy in 1958,[13] whilst Bella Higgins sang another to Hamish Henderson in 1955.[14] Several other Scottish recordings were made, including some recorded by James Madison Carpenter which are also available on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.[15][16]

The influential Appalachian folk singer Jean Ritchie had her family version of the ballad recorded several times, including on her album Ballads from her Appalachian Family Tradition (1961).[17][18] Her fellow Appalachian Nimrod Workman sang his own traditional version on different occasions,[19] including on a YouTube video uploaded by the official Alan Lomax archive channel.[20] Other noted Appalachian musicians, such as Aunt Molly Jackson (1935),[21] Eliza Pace (1937),[22] Virgil Sturgill (1958)[23] and Buna Hicks (1961)[24] had traditional versions recorded.

The folklorist Helen Hartness Flanders recorded many versions in her native New England,[25] and Canadian collectors including Helen Creighton and Kenneth Peacock recorded several versions in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.[26]

Popular Recordings[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "Young Beichan"
  2. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v. 1, p. 459, Dover Publications, New York, 1965
  3. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v. 1, pp. 459–61, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  4. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, v. 1, p. 461, Dover Publications, New York 1965
  5. ^ "Lord Bateman - Percy Grainger ethnographic wax cylinders - World and traditional music | British Library - Sounds". sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  6. ^ "Lord Bateman (second performance, part 1) - Percy Grainger ethnographic wax cylinders - World and traditional music | British Library - Sounds". sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  7. ^ "Lord Bateman (second performance, parts 1 and 2) - Percy Grainger ethnographic wax cylinders - World and traditional music | British Library - Sounds". sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  8. ^ "Lord Bateman (part 1) - Percy Grainger ethnographic wax cylinders - World and traditional music | British Library - Sounds". sounds.bl.uk. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  9. ^ "VWML Search: rn40 sound england". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
  10. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S370346)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  11. ^ "Lord Bateman (VWML Song Index SN29647)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  12. ^ "Lord Bateman (VWML Song Index SN29414)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  13. ^ "Susan Pyatt (Roud Folksong Index S222542)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  14. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S430496)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  15. ^ "Lord Bateman (VWML Song Index SN15991)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  16. ^ "Lord Brichen (VWML Song Index SN16011)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  17. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S213524)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  18. ^ "The Turkish Lady (Roud Folksong Index S318152)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  19. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S331493)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  20. ^ "Nimrod Workman: Lord Baseman (1983)". YouTube.
  21. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S262154)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  22. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S262156)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  23. ^ "Lord Bateman (Roud Folksong Index S389611)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  24. ^ "Young Beham (Roud Folksong Index S226730)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  25. ^ "Search: rn40 sound usa flanders". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
  26. ^ "Search: rn40 sound canada". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

External links[edit]