Down by the Salley Gardens
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Barry Taylor


The words are a poem by William Butler Yeats which was published in Crossways in 1889. Herbert Hughes set it to music.

A salley is a willow tree. It was once common to have gardens of willows for osiers (willow rods). These gardens were kept to have material for basket-making and for thatch roofing of cottages. The Gaelic for willow is saileach.* The English usage of sally for willow tree may come from the Gaelic.

Down by the salley gardens
My love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
With little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
As the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish
with her did not agree.

In a field by the river
My love and I did stand
And on my leaning shoulder
She laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
As the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish
And now am full of tears.
Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
See Bibliography for full information.
*Information from a post to by Finbar Boyle