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The heroine (called variously Lizie, Rosie or Lucy) is pregnant with her brother's child. Her brother murders her. He tries to pass off the blood as that of some animal he had killed (his greyhound, his falcon, his horse), but in the end must admit that he murdered her. He sets sail in a ship, never to return.
The Ballad of Lizie Wan was the inspiration for the title song from English recording artist Kate Bush's album The Kick Inside. It is directly referenced in an early demo recording of the song in the second verse: "You and me on the bobbing knee / Welling eyes from identifying with Lizie Wan's story." The final version of the song replaces the direct reference and describes the ballad as "old mythology."