The Banks of the Sweet Primroses
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


This is a very common English folksong. It is also known as The Sweet Primroses. It first appears in broadsides and is in William Barrett's English Folk Songs (1909). The Ballad Index dates the tune to 1891.

Though the titles are very similar, this is not related to On the Banks of the Roses, which is an Irish tune.

As I was walking one midsummer morning,
A-viewing the meadows and to take the air,
'Twas down by the banks of the sweet pridonotuse-e-roses,
When I beheld a most lovely Fair.

With three long steps I stepp'd up to her,
Not knowing her as she pass'd me by;
I stepp'd up to her, thinking to view her,
She appear'd to me like some virgin bride.

I said: Pretty maid, how far are you going?
And what's the occasion of all your grief?
I'll make you as happy as any lady,
If you will grant me one small relief.

Stand off, stand off, you are deceitful;
You are deceitful, young man, 'tis plain -
'Tis you that have cause my poor heart to wander,
To give me comfort 'tis all in vain;

I'll take thee down to some lonesome valley,
Where no man nor mortal shall ever me tell;
Where the pretty little small birds do change their voices
And ev'ry moment their notes do swell.

Come all you young men that go a-courting,
Pray give attention to what I say,
There's many a dark and cloudy morning
Turns out to be a sunshiny day.
One Hundred English Folksongs and
Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
See Bibliography for full information.