Week 38: Dick Darval’s Song, by Anon

Dick Darval’s Song

I saw a young man come one night
An apple in his hand.
By moonlight and candlelight
We find the Mollhern land.

I saw a young man come one night
All weeping bitterly
By moonlight and candlelight
We find the gallows tree.

Anon

I came across these haunting stanzas, which are possibly only a fragment of a larger piece, in a book about Berkshire ghosts.  To quote: ‘Molly Tape was a local who entered into a passionate love affair with a farmer named Dick Darval. Eventually, Dick rejected the poor girl and, in despair, she hanged herself in the lane between Hurst and the hamlet of Hinton. An old song about Dick indicates that Molly may have unsuccessfully tried her hand at witchcraft in order to win him back. Her scantily clad spirit still haunts the lane.’

The ‘Mollhern land’ is witch-speak for the underworld or land of the dead.

If anyone knows if any more than these two verses exist I should be very pleased to hear from them. Also if anyone knows more about the word Mollhern – the OED gives it as a variant of moll-heron, a grey heron, but what a grey heron might have to do with the land of the dead I don’t know.

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