The Willow Tree (Irish Version)
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John Renfro Davis

This tune is an Irish tune and not related to:

Sam Henry collected this in Ireland in 1939 in the Cloyfin district from a man who learned it from his mother who was a native of Ballymena.

that day month = the same day a month later

The night was dark and the hour late,
Cold blew the winter air,
And as four farmers homeward walked
Down through Lifford Fair,
They thought they heard a cry,
Both sad and sharp it struck their ear,
Although the winds blew high.

They climbed the wall and searched the tombs
That thickly filled the ground,
And, spreading on a new-made grave,
A sorrowful youth they found:
His wild moans filled the chilly air,
For he looked pale and wild,
His loud cries would have pierced your heart,
For he wept like a child.

They roused him from the cold wet earth,
Inviting him away,
He says, Move me not from this sad spot,
For here I mean to stay;
This is my true-love's grassy bed,
And here all night I'll lie,
All by the side of my long-lost bride,
I will remain and die.

In early life we were both joined
In love both fond and true,
There's not a care but touched my heart
But touched my Fanny's too;
The times were bad and I was poor,
It was then I went away,
To make a fortune in strange lands,
I crossed the roaring sea.

Scarce before I went away,
In wedlock's bands we joined,
It was then I left my tender bride,
So lonely, young and fond;
For three long years I stayed away
And I won my fortune in strange lands,
I crossed the roaring sea.

But oh, alas, begins my grief,
My woe it then begun,
When I came home they had her wed
Unto another one,
And with false letters they imposed
All in her heartless ear,
And told her I had died abroad
All in a second year.

It being on a summer evening,
Calm and fragrant was the air
She sat before her father's door
And never looked more fair;
I stood before her suddenly
And when I caught her eye,
She clasped her hands before her face
And gave a piercing cry.

The sudden shock had reached her heart;
The story soon was told:
When I came home her father gave
His hands to ancient gold,
But all the gold that e'er was shown
Did fail to ease her mind,
And like a tender flower crushed,
Away she drooped and pined.

Mark what followed after this--
I need not stop to tell--
In that day month, sure I could hear
The tolling funeral bell.
Now I have done all with this earth,
And it has done with me:
My love lies dead in her cold clay bed
Beneath yon willow tree.

They stopped, but neither force nor word
Could raise him from the ground,
All night he lay on the cold clay,
And the next day was found,
And when they touched him he was dead
And where he lay he died;
They dug his grave and, side by side,
They laid him with his bride.
Related Links
From Sam Henry's Songs of the People
See Bibliography for full information.