A warrior so bold and a virgin so bright
Conversed as they sat on the green;
They gazed at each other with tender delight,
Alonzo the Brave was the name of the knight,
And the maiden's was fair Angeline.
“And oh,” said the youth, “since tomorrow I go
To fight in some far distant land,
Your tears for my absence soon ceasing to flow
Some other will court you and you will bestow
On a wealthier suitor your hand.”
“Hush, hush these suspicions,” fair Angeline said,
“Offensive to love and to me;
For if you be living or if you be dead
I'll swear by the virgin that none in your stead
Shall husband of Angeline be.
“If by ire or by lust or by wealth led aside
Forget my Alonzo the Brave,
God grant that to punish my falsehood and pride
Your ghost at my marriage should sit by my side,
Should tax me with perjury, claim me as a bride,
And bear me away to the grave.”
To Palestine hastened this hero so bold,
His love she lamented him sore;
But scarce had a twelve-month elapsed when behold,
A baron all covered with jewels and gold
Arrived at fair Angeline's door.
His treasures, his presents, his spacious domain,
Soon made her untrue to her vows;
He dazzled her eyes, he bewildered her brain,
He caught her affection so light and so vain,
And carried her home as his spouse.
And now had the marriage been blessed by the priest,
The revelry now was begun,
The tables they groaned with the weight of the feast,
Nor yet had their laughter and merriment ceased
When the bell at the castle tolled one.
When to her amazement fair Angeline found
A stranger was placed by her side,
His ire was terrific, he uttered no sound,
He spake not, he moved not, he turned not around,
But earnestly gazed on the bride.
His visor was closed and gigantic his height,
His armour was sable to view;
All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight,
The dogs as they eyed him drew back in a fright,
The lights in the chamber burned blue.
His presence all hearts appeared to dismay,
The guests sat in silence and fear;
At length spake the bride, while trembling, “I pray,
Sir knight, that your helmet aside you would lay,
And deign to partake of our cheer.”
The lady was silent, the stranger complied,
His visor he slowly unclosed;
Great God what a sight met fair Angeline's eyes,
What words can express her dismay and surprise
When a skeleton's head was exposed!
All present then uttered a horrified shout,
And turned with disgust from the scene;
The worms they crept in and the worms they crept out,
They sported his eyes and his temples about
While the spectre addressed Angeline:
“Behold me, thou false one, behold me,” he cried,
“Remember Alonzo the Brave;
God grant that to punish your falsehood and pride
My ghost at your marriage should sit by your side,
Should tax you with perjury, claim you as a bride,
And bear you away to the grave.”
So saying his arms 'round the lady he wound
While loudly she shrieked in dismay;
Then sank with his prey through the wide yawning ground,
And never again was fair Angeline found,
Or the spectre that bore her away.
Not long lived the baron and none since that time
To inherit his castle presume;
For chronicles tell that by order sublime,
There Angeline suffers the pain of her crime,
And mourns her deplorable doom.
At midnight four times in each year does her sprite,
(While mortals in slumber are bound)
Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,
Appear in the hall with the skeleton knight,
And she shrieks as he whirls her around.
While they drink out of skulls newly-torn from the grave,
Dancing 'round them the spectres are seen;
Their liquor is blood and this horrible stave
They held to the health of Alonzo the Brave
And his consort, the fair Angeline.
This song was collected from Harry Curtis, of Joe Batt's Arm, Newfoundland, in 1952, and published in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, by Kenneth Peacock. I've made some minor modifications and changed the heroine's name from ‘Imogene’ to ‘Angeline’.
The melody in the book is in D Mixolydian, though transcribed in D Dorian with F# accidentals. I sing it in C Mixolydian, with my guitar part modulating between that mode and C Dorian. Note however that I capo the guitar at the third fret and play in A Mixolydian/A Dorian (see the transposed music).
In verses 4 and 13, which have an extra line, I repeat the melody of the third line for the fourth line.