Green Bushes
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns

This appears in numerous broadsides and folksong collections. The melody (or variants of the melody) was used as the basis of several songs including Sweet William and Brian O Linn. Copies of the broadsides can be found at the Broadside Ballads Online. One copy of Sweet William (printed between 1813 and 1838) notes that it should be sung to the tune Green Bushes.

Two stanzas were sung in Buckstone's play Green Bushes (1845). It was so popular that the complete song was then printed and published as "a popular Irish ballad sung by Mrs. FitzWilliam." Several variants of the melody appear in the Petrie Collection.*

As I was a walking one morning in Spring,
For to hear the birds whistle and the nightingales sing,
I saw a young damsel, so sweetly sang she:
Down by the Green Bushes he thinks to meet me.

I stepped up to her and thus I did say:
Why wait you my fair one, so long by the way?
My true Love, my true Love, so sweetly sang she,
Down by the Green Bushes he thinks to meet me.

I'll buy you fine beavers and a fine silken gownd,
I will buy you fine petticoats with the flounce to the ground,
If you will prove loyal and constant to me
And forsake you own true Love, I'll be married to thee.

I want none of your petticoats and your fine silken shows:
I never was so poor as to marry for clothes;
But if you will prove loyal and constant to me
I'll forsake my own true Love and get married to thee.

Come let us be going, kind sir, if you please;
Come let us be going from beneath the green trees.
For my true Love is coming down yonder I see,
Down by the Green Bushes, where he thinks to meet me.

And when he came there and he found she was gone,
He stood like some lambkin, forever undone;
She has gone with some other, and forsaken me,
So adieu to Green Bushes forever, cried he.

One Hundred English Folksongs*
See Bibliography for full information.