Mudcat Café message #2414851 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113441   Message #2414851
Posted By: TalkingBird
15-Aug-08 - 03:26 PM
Thread Name: What murder ballad is the saddest? [songs]
Less well known, but also very sad, is the traditional ballad about the murder of Arthur Clyde by his fiancÚ's brother during a heated argument. The brother immediately regrets the terrible deed and its effect on his beloved sister, and he confesses to her while dying. He may have killed himself out of remorse and guilt, though the song doesn't say explicitly. The confession apparently takes place long after the actual murder, since he tells her that it took place "one autumn evening." He tells of disposing of Arthur Clyde's body, so presumably, his sister never knew her lover had been killed, and she may have assumed until this confession that he'd abandoned her. The song was recorded by Loman Cansler on the Folkways album "Missouri Folk Songs." A clip of it can be heard at


I am dying, sister, dying, and my voice is getting low.
There is something I must tell you, sister dear, before I go.

Sister darling, Arthur's missing, whom you longed someday to wed.
Weep not, faint not, oh dear sister, when I tell you Arthur's dead.

Him you loved, but him I hated; hated why I was not sure;
But to see him with you, sister, was more than I could endure.

So at last, one autumn evening, as the pale moon lightly shone,
Down beside the rolling water, I met Arthur all alone.

Words that passed I don't remember, for I in the passion flew;
And we fought with sword and dagger. Then and there I Arthur slew.

Then I thought of you, dear sister, thought how you'd be left alone;
And I'd give my life, dear sister, to undo this deed I'd done.

But I knew that with all my weeping, all the tears that I might shed
Could not bring life back to Arthur, lying there so cold and dead.

So I took his lifeless body, cast it o'er the river side;
And I leave this world to wonder what became of Arthur Clyde.