His sweetheart, she rose early, one bright and sunny morn,
the sheep were in the meadow, and golden glowed the corn.
At a weekly Wednesday market, she had many wares to sell,
for she would buy a wedding gown, some satin shoes as well.
Just yesterday he’d bid her, “Will you marry me next spring?
Mary, quite contrary, say you’ll wear my wedding ring?”
A smile as sweet as cherry-pie she gave to him that day,
he’d said be sure to hurry back, but be careful on the way.
Before she turned the corner, he a kiss to her did blow,
she tossed her curls and waved to him, in her hair, a yellow bow;
on the handlebar, a basket, full of produce she had grown
in her pretty cottage garden from the seeds that she had sown.
Like the wind she sped to market, seemed her bicycle could fly;
church-bells chimed, choir-boys sang as she sat there on cloud nine,
but alas, her trip to market was to reach a tragic end,
an errant sheep strayed on the road as she sharply turned the bend.
Poor Mary, cycle, flowers and all, came tumbling down that day;
her yellow ribbon at her feet, she lay lifeless on the hay.
In a tiny church upon the hill, on his knees he sobbed and prayed,
and swore his life he’d give for hers, then he heard her call his name.
“My garden must be full right now of sunflowers and sweet peas.
Prithee, take them to the market and do with them as you please?”
So he took her wicker basket, filled it full of flowers she’d grown,
for to reap the final harvest from the seeds that she had sown;
to a beggar at the market he gave the flowers away,
and bought a crimson rose-bush to adorn her simple grave…
Beneath a haystack, sat and wept, as golden glowed the dawn;
the sheep were in the meadow and the cows were in the corn,
and through his tears he saw her face and heard her softly say,
“My heart shall break if you should go. Promise me you’ll stay?”
He gave to her his solemn word that a vigil he would keep;
no food or water touched his lips as he drifted into sleep,
and by her side was laid to rest where a crimson rose-bush grows…
where a yellow ribbon hangs forlorn, as the north wind gently blows.