Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

Red Bird

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1966 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1994.

The red bird sang on the highest branch
As he never had sung before,
And the hunter's son came riding by
Where the lady stood at her door.
"Light down, light down," the lady said,
"And spend this night with me."
"I won't light down, and I can't light down
For I ride this night to see,
The sweetheart who waits for me."

"Light down, light down from your weary horse,
And come to my arms," she said,
"Or come to my house and see your son
Where he lies asleep in his bed."
"You may rock my son the whole night through,
But here I will not stay,
For I am riding to my new love
Before the dawn of day,
And the night is soon away."

"Light down, light down from your weary horse,
And kiss me before we part."
And she drew a knife from her middle band
And stabbed him to the heart.
The red bird sang in the highest branch
While she carried her love away,
And sank him down in the deep river
Where the reeds and rushes sway,
And no one knew where he lay.

"Light down, light down, my little red bird,
And clean my knife for me,
For your feathers are red as the reddest blood,
And the stain no one will see."
"I won't light down and I can't light down,
I'll stay this night in the tree,
For if I come where the lady stands,
She'll do the same to me,
She'll do the same to me."

The hunter came to the lady's door
And knocked upon the pin,
But the lady swore by her silver knife
That his son she had not seen.
"She has slain your son," said the little red bird,
As he sang in the branches high,
"And she's put a stone upon his breast
Where her own head used to lie,
And 'twas she that made him die."

They hanged her on the gallows tree,
While the red bird sang his song,
And the hunter came to the ravaged house
And carried his son's son home.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Muse of Parker Street

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- [none]

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