The Girl who Lived in the Woods

We learned this song from versions by Jean Baron in the ‘Anthologie de la Chanson Française’ and by the wonderful La Bergère. Our translation of ‘La Fille de Parmi ces Bois’ tells of the tragic consequences of a misunderstanding between a mother and daughter.

The Girl who Lived in the Wood (La Fille de Parmi Ces Bois)
Trad. French, Arr. na-mara, Translation: P McNamara

There was a girl who lived in the wood, there was a girl who lived in the wood
And every day you’d see her walk there, but love delivered so much pain to her

(For) Unto her, her mother did say, unto her, her mother did say,
“Ne’er let the child in you grow older, or you will find your life grow colder”

But alas she has misunderstood, but alas she has misunderstood,
She’s ta’en the babe she bore inside her and drowned it in the flowing river

Three matelots were sailing by, three matelots were sailing by
And called out “Cruel Eglantine, the law shall hear of what’s been seen here”

The next day at ten in the morn, these matelots appeared at her door
“To prison you we shall deliver, most cruel lady of the river”

“Oh, enter sirs and see, enter sirs and see,
The girl who is standing here before you, shall die while many swear it is her due"

And as she climbed that scaffold so high, and as she climbed that scaffold so high
She turned to see who stood behind her and her tearful mother she did find there

“Oh mother show some pity for me, oh mother show some pity for me,
For have you raised a loving daughter, to watch her as she goes for slaughter?”

“See, daughter how I do weep and mourn, see daughter how I do weep and mourn
Six hundred thousand I’d give freely, to have my foolish daughter home with me”

“But justice takes not silver or gold, justice takes not silver or gold
For those who’ve acted so cruelly, their judgement day will come most surely “

“Ma mère coupez mes blond cheveux, Ma mère coupez mes blond cheveux,
Pendez-les à la porte de l’église, pour faire example aux autres filles”

“Come mother pare my golden hair, Come mother pare my golden hair,
And pin it to the church door yonder, to warn young girls who dare to wander
And pin it on the church door yonder, to warn young girls who dare to wander

Trad. Breton, Arr. na-mara
track number: 
10