A man disguises himself to attend the wedding of the girl he loved before he went away. He sings a song that reminds her of her unfaithfulness and promises to return her love token. She swoons and returns to her mother's home. She dies before morning
Nobleman's Wedding, The (The Faultless Bride; The Love Token) [Laws P31] Partial text(s) *** A *** The Awful Wedding From Cecil Sharp & Maud Karpeles, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. Vol. I1 (1932 edition). Item #105, p. 83. Collected 1909 from "Mrs. Moore" of Rabun, Georgia. I'll tell you of an awful wedding Where two true lovers proved unkind She begin to reflect on her former studies And her old true love run strong in her mind. They were all seated round the table And every one should sing a song And the very first one was her old true lover And this is the song that he sung to the bride If any one should ask the reason Why I put on my strange attire I'm crossed in love, that is the reason I've lost my only heart's delight But I'll put on my strange attire And I will wear it for a week or two -------------------- Till I change my old love for the new But how can you lie with your head on another man's pillow When you proved your love so late to me? To bear it any longer she was not able And down at her bridegroom's feet she fell There['s] one thing I do desire Perhaps you all will grant me That is this night to lie by my mother And all that love me lie with thee And this request being soon was granted With watery eyes they went to bed So early, so early, as they rose in the morning They found the young bride lying dead
According to Hazlitt's _Dictionary of Faiths & Folklore_, to wear the willow meant that one had been forsaken by a lover.
Norman Ault's _Elizabethan Lyrics_ claims that the first mention of wearing green willow comes in a poem by John Heywood: "All a green willow, willow, willow, All a green willow is my garland." The manuscript, BM Add. 15233, is dated c. 1545. We also find the notion in Shakespeare's "Othello," IV.iii, and in Salisbury's "Buen Matina" (1597).
Roud lumps this with "All Around My Hat." That's *really* a stretch. - RBW
The "Awful Wedding" subgroup ("I'll tell you of an awful wedding"), despite the similarity in titles, is *not* "The Fatal Wedding." - PJS, RBW