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Water Is Wide - First American Version

DigiTrad:
OF LATE I'VE BEEN DRIVEN NEAR CRAZY
WALY WALY (JAMIE DOUGLAS)
WALY, WALY 2
WALY, WALY 3
WATER IS WIDE
WHEN COCKLESHELLS TURN SILVER BELLS (Waly, Waly)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Psalms sung to 'The Water is Wide' (36)
artist that sings The Water is Wide (33)
Jamie Douglas(Child #204)June Tabor version source (3)
Lyr Req: Water is Wide (6) (closed)
Tune Req: A Ship Came Sailing (coll. Baring-Gould) (14)
Lyr Req: The River Is Wide...My Love and I (14)
The Water Is Wide (Susanna Hoffs) (9)
(origins) Origin: The Water Is Wide - Waly Waly (34)
(origins) Lyr Req: Help! Version of Water Is Wide (23)
(origins) The Water is Wide - one more time! (43)
Lyr Req: there is a ship and she sails the sea (15)
Lyr Req: June Tabor's Waly Waly (6)
Help: Looking for recording of Water is Wide (36)
(origins) Origins: Waly, Waly - Water is Wide (29)
(origins) Water is wide: song history request (38)


GUEST,Lani 22 May 02 - 11:51 AM
Wolfgang 22 May 02 - 12:04 PM
Dani 22 May 02 - 12:21 PM
Joe Offer 22 May 02 - 05:24 PM
GUEST 22 May 02 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,Lani 23 May 02 - 09:50 AM
GUEST 23 May 02 - 10:19 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 May 02 - 10:50 AM
Joe Offer 23 May 02 - 11:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 May 02 - 01:42 PM
Ballyholme 23 May 02 - 02:44 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 May 02 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Lani 23 May 02 - 06:26 PM
John Minear 19 Oct 02 - 05:24 PM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Oct 02 - 07:38 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 02 - 08:51 PM
John Minear 19 Oct 02 - 08:59 PM
John Minear 19 Oct 02 - 09:05 PM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Oct 02 - 10:17 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 02 - 11:36 PM
Stewie 20 Oct 02 - 12:24 AM
GUEST 20 Oct 02 - 01:17 AM
John Minear 20 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM
John Minear 03 Nov 02 - 04:46 PM
John Minear 05 Nov 02 - 06:03 PM
mg 05 Nov 02 - 09:15 PM
John Minear 16 Dec 02 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 16 Dec 02 - 06:47 PM
dick greenhaus 16 Dec 02 - 09:31 PM
John Minear 17 Dec 02 - 08:19 AM
GUEST,Donal 18 Dec 02 - 12:46 AM
Declan 18 Dec 02 - 11:30 AM
John Minear 19 Dec 02 - 10:44 AM
Joe Offer 22 Aug 10 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,barbbanjo 26 Oct 10 - 06:11 PM
raredance 27 Oct 10 - 12:20 AM
raredance 27 Oct 10 - 12:25 AM
GUEST 06 Dec 14 - 12:46 PM
The Sandman 06 Dec 14 - 12:57 PM
Little Robyn 06 Dec 14 - 04:09 PM
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Subject: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: GUEST,Lani
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:51 AM

Wow! Just stumbled on this site after researching this song, and have spent an enjoyable several hours following many twisted threads. Feel a bit like the minotaur is after me. Anyway....

Am doing an American music concert with my college choir and a bit of re-enacting, and a great arrangement of "The Water is Wide" is on the program. My question is this: Does anyone know where it first showed up on this side of the pond? I noted the reference to the Georgia and South Carolina Sea Islands, which would be neat, since I'm in eastern North Carolina, and not far from there, but how 'bout before that? Appreciate any help....

Lani



Threads on this song:

(Not an all-inclusive list. Some say Carrickfergus is a version of this song.)


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: Wolfgang
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:04 PM

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index. Doesn't help much for your specific question but worth looking at if you haven't already.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: Dani
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:21 PM

Welcome, fellow Tarheel! With the wealth of music, especially traditional music, in NC, I'm always surprised there aren't more of us!

Dani


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 May 02 - 05:24 PM

Hi. Lani - You'll notice I combined your thread with a couple of others on this song. I'll have a cross-index of our Water Is Wide/Waly Waly threads worked up soon.
-Joe Offer-

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Waly Waly (The Water is Wide)

DESCRIPTION: The singer laments the effects of unrequited love and an untrue lover. Typical symbols include the rotten-hearted oak that looks solid but breaks and the beautiful flower protected by thorns. In some versions the lover is untrue; sometimes (s)he is dead
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1714 (Ritson, _Scotish Song_)
KEYWORDS: love rejection lyric nonballad lament lover death
FOUND IN: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) Ireland US(Ap,NE,SE) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (26 citations):
Child 204 notes, "Waly, Waly, Gin Love Be Bony" (1 text)
Bronson (204), 8 versions (including "Jamie Douglas")
Percy/Wheatley III, pp. 145-148, "Waly Waly, Love Be Bonny" (1 text)
Whitelaw-Song, pp. 521-522, "Waly Waly" (1 text)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 469-474, "Jamie Douglas" (notes and scattered stanzas; the only full text is in fact this piece)
Kennedy 149, "Deep in Love" (1 text, 1 tune)
Logan, pp. 336-337, "Picking Lilies" (1 text)
GreigDuncan8 1918, "I Spied a Ship Sailin' on the Sea" (1 fragment)
Greig #173, p. 2, ("I spied a ship sailin' on the sea") (1 fragment)
Peacock, pp. 475-476, "Love is Lovely" (1 text, 1 tune, strongly composite, starting with a verse perhaps from "Peggy Gordon," then the chorus of "Waly Waly (The Water Is Wide)," two more which might be anything, and a conclusion from "Carrickfergus")
Leach, pp. 546-551, "Jamie Douglas" (3 texts, with only the third text belonging with this piece)
Friedman, p. 101, "Jamie Douglas" (2 texts, with only the second text belonging with this piece)
Sharp-100E 39, "O Waly Waly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-Sharp 108, "Waly Waly" (1 text, a composite of four versions)
Reeves-Circle 30, "Deep in Love", "Picking Lilies" (2 texts)
Sandburg, pp. 16-17, "Waillie, Waillie!" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 218-219, "Love" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hodgart, p. 143, "O Waly, Waly" (1 text)
Lomax-FSNA 70, "Love is Pleasin'" (1 text, 1 tune, of four verses, two of which go here, one belongs with "Fair and Tender Ladies," and the fourth could be from several sources; the whole could be a "Love is Teasing" variant)
HarvClass-EP1, pp. 323-324, "O Waly, Waly" (1 text)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 77, "The Water Is Wide" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H683, p. 393, "The Apron of Flowers" (1 text, 1 tune -- apparently a collection of floating verses including one that goes here)
Silber-FSWB, p. 145, "Waillie"; p. 163, "The Water Is Wide" (2 texts)
DT (204), WALYWALY WALYWAL2* WALYWAL3* CCKLSHLL* WATRWIDE*
ADDITIONAL: James Johnson, Editor, _The Scots Musical Museum_ [1853 edition], volume II, #158, p. 166, "Waly, Waly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Alfred M. Williams, _Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry_, Houghton Mifflin, 1894, pp. 89-91, "Waly, Waly, gin Love by Bony / Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament" (1 text)

Roud #87
RECORDINGS:
Freeman Bennett, "Love is Lovely" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Liam Clancy, "The Water is Wide" (on IRLClancy01)
Mobile Strugglers, "Trouble, Trouble's Followed Me All My Days" (on AmSkBa, classified there for want of a better place; it's really a collection of floaters, and could as easily go with "I Wish, I Wish/Love Is Teasing." It shares the verse "If I had wings like Noah's dove" with "Dink's Song," but not its distinctive chorus. - PJS)
Pete Seeger, "The Water is Wide" (on PeteSeeger18) (on PeteSeeger34) (on PeteSeeger47)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Jamie Douglas" [Child 204] (lyrics)
cf. "Love Is Teasing"
cf. "Careless Love"
cf. "Died for Love"
cf. "The Butcher Boy" [Laws P24] (floating lyrics)
cf. "Dink's Song" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Oh, Johnny, Johnny" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Arthur's Seat" (lyrics: two verses)
cf. "The Water's Deep, Love, I Canna Wide" (floating lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
A Ship Came Sailing
When Cockle Shells Turn Silver Bells
NOTES: Some scholars consider this a degraded form of "Jamie Douglas" [Child 204], with which it shares several lyrics. It can hardly be denied that they are related. Since, however, "Waly Waly" has worn away to a purely lyric piece (and some even believe it to be the older of the two songs, which has provided a few chance lyrics to "Jamie Douglas"), it is my firm opinion that the two should be kept separate.
Paul Stamler considers at least some of the versions of "I Wish, I Wish/Love is Teasing" to belong here. To me, they look more like versions of "The Butcher Boy." Still, it shows you how lyric this piece has become.
Under the title "Forsaken," this is one of the handful of traditional songs in Palgrave's Golden Treasury (item CXXXIII)- RBW
The two verses shared with "Arthur's Seat" are neither common floaters nor verses shared with "Jamie Douglas": one is the title verse ("Now Arthur-Seat shall be my bed ....") and the other the Martinmas wind reference ("Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blow ...). - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
File: K149

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 02 - 06:51 PM

Joe Offer,

I think you've made a mistake here.

Lani made a specfic query i.e. when did it first show up in America?

I don't think placing the question 30 messages down a thread that is mostly "I like this version" is going to help the query get answered.

Do you?


You may be right. I added a little emphasis to Lani's question above, and maybe that will do the trick. I've been combining threads in an attempt to eliminate duplication of information, and lessen the chance of information getting lost - but maybe I'd better let new questions like this one live on their own for a few days before combining.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: GUEST,Lani
Date: 23 May 02 - 09:50 AM

Hi Joe,

Thank you for your responses to my question, but GUEST (whichever one it is...) is right - I need to know if there is any info about the etymology of this song in America. Fr'instance:

Did Cecil Sharp find it in Appalachia? Did it first show up in Boston with the potato famine gang? Was it found on the rivers? or the western expansion?

My concert is a Memorial Day celebration of the American heritage in music - I've got someone playing William Billings, Ella Shephard (of the Fisk Jubilee Singers), even a shanteyman in love with an Indian princess. Yes, I know, I followed that thread too, but I'm going with the traditional explanation. These are not long scenarios - just something to add a little spice and education. My son (Chuchulan re-incarnate) is dying to play a teed-off Boston laborer complaining about the Yanks stealing his thunder, but I'd like to know if that's even a little accurate. I realize this may be a more fruitless quest than the Holy Grail, but thought I'd see if your folks had some stories. (I teach American music and the first thing I tell my students before I assign them the task of finding some info on folk songs is that it will be an exercise in futility.......) Should I start a new thread? The area in which I live is pretty limited, research-wise, except for the internet.

I've really enjoyed exploring this site, and someday when I have a lot of free time, I plan to do a lot more of it.

Thanks again, Lani


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 02 - 10:19 AM

Lani,

Probably the most important thing witha thread is the title. That's what gains the initial interest.

If I was you, I'd start a new thread with a title along the lines of:

Water is Wide - First American Version?

and include the info that you've posted in your previous message.

Hopefully Joe won't mind too much


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Subject: RE: The Water is Wide - one more time!
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 May 02 - 10:50 AM

If by The Water is Wide you mean members of the song-family that contain that particular verse, then it won't have travelled to the US with Irish emigrants, as it appears to be a uniquely English variant (though I am of course ready to proved wrong on this). Sharp found it in the South of England; the well-known and much-recorded tune came from Mrs. Caroline Cox at High Ham, Somerset, in August 1905. The only variant beginning with those words listed in the Roud Folksong Index from outside England is a recording of Almeda Riddle from the 1970s: I don't know where she got it.

The Traditional Ballad Index mentions three examples that might perhaps be American:

Peggy Seeger, American Favorite Ballads: Tunes and Songs as sung by Pete Seeger (1961), p. 77, "The Water Is Wide" (1 text, 1 tune). I don't know if the book names the traditional source, if any, but Pete Seeger certainly didn't restrict himself to American songs!

Irwin Silber, Folksinger's Wordbook (1973), p. 145, "Waillie"; p. 163, "The Water Is Wide" (2 texts). The editors of the TBI comment: This book gives no source information at all about the songs contained, and at least some seem to have been edited. Useless for your purposes, then.

The most likely vector of transmission for this particular form of the song would be Cecil Sharp's book, One Hundred English Folksongs, which was published in the USA by the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston in 1916, and which contained Mrs. Cox' set, titled (because of its perceived relationship to the Scottish song) O Waly Waly. The folksong revival of the 1950s and thereafter will also have spread it around quite a lot, during which process the details of its provenance will often have been forgotten, ignored or misrepresented.

Of course, other members of the song family, lacking the Water is Wide part, were in America earlier on; Sharp got a two-verse fragment in the Appalachians in 1916, but didn't publish it, and a few others have turned up since. I would imagine that they mostly derived from Scottish forms, but I haven't seen the texts.


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Subject: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:25 AM

I had combined this with existing threads, but maybe it will work better on its own.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 May 02 - 01:42 PM

It turns out that I gave much of the above information in another discussion a while back (this song does come up rather often, with many of the same misconceptions being repeated by different people): RE: Water is wide: song history request. I mentioned there that Pete Seeger learned his set from his sister Peggy; she probably got it from one of Sharp's books, either directly or at some remove. He added a verse from somewhere or other. I also went into more detail on the Somerset text published by Sharp.

Having also re-found Bruce Olson's very useful post on the song (Re: "Waly waly", "The Water is Wide" and "Love is Pleasing") I can add a little to my previous comments in this thread.

The Water is Wide verse turns up in The Ripest of Apples, a song collected near Portland, Maine (no date or source given), which appeared in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.I no.2 (1900). Whether it's a bona-fide member of the family or just a fortuitous collection of floating verses is hard to tell (it's usually classed separately nowadays), though J. W. Allen, (Some Notes on "O Waly Waly", Journal of the Folk-Song Society, vol.7, no.3, 1954) considered it part of the group. He also printed another song from the US, Maggie Gordon, which contained the Water is Wide verse; I haven't seen the article yet, but will try to pick it up in the next few days .

Bruce posted the Maine song here: The Ripest of Apples. Also in that thread is a similar Ulster set with the same title, from Songs of the People: the tunes are clearly related to each other, but not, so far as I can tell, to the English song. A form of the Water is Wide verse appeared in a number of broadside versions of I'm often Drunk and Seldom Sober in first half of the 19th century; A.L. Lloyd considered these to be mere collations of floating verses. A number of examples can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadsides; here is one:

I'm often drunk, but seldom sober ("The sea is wide and I can't get over...") Printed by Liptrot of St. Helen's, date unknown.

It's perhaps worth noting here that the Canadian song, Peggy Gordon, contains some of the material in the broadside.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Ballyholme
Date: 23 May 02 - 02:44 PM

Malcolm, I wouldn't completely write off the theory that the song arrived in America with Irish immigrants. The difference might be that it was the Scotch-Irish in the 18th Century rather than the famine-era Irish who brought it. The Scotch-Irish largely came into America through Pennsylvania before moving down through the Valley of Virginia and points south and west. A lot of their music would have contained strong elements of the Scots and English traditions and it would not be stretching it to believe that a variation of The Water is Wide would come with them.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:15 PM

Point taken; but there seems to be no evidence that the Water is Wide versions are older than the 19th century. As yet, we don't know for sure that Lani was asking about the whole song family or specifically the well-known The Water is Wide, which appears to have been unknown in American tradition before the 20th century and almost certainly derives, through print, from the Somerset collation published by Sharp.

If she's talking about the whole song family, of course, then all bets are off and you might well be right, though I think that none of the 18th century forms contain the Water is Wide verse.

The Ripest of Apples referred to above presumably did travel to the US from Ireland; the tune used may well have originated there, but the text probably didn't.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST,Lani
Date: 23 May 02 - 06:26 PM

Specific and familiar "Water is Wide" (for the moment anyway, although this gets more intersting by the hour):

The water is wide,
I cannot cross over
Neither have I the wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my true love and I

etc. etc. etc.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 05:24 PM

I've been doing some work on "The Water is Wide". Let me state at the outset that I'm only interested in this one particular song rather than the much broader family of songs that has been widely discussed on Mudcat. As near as I can tell, this is one of the more recent threads on the topic, so I decided to jump in here.

I want to focus on Malcolm's comments that the widely recorded and perhaps most familiar versions of "The Water is Wide" can be traced back to a version collected (and collated with others?) by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Caroline Cox, of Somerset, in 1905. He has suggested that it may have been introduced into the "Folk Revival" by Peggy Seeger, who may have gotten it from Cecil Sharp's printed collection, and handed it on to Pete Seeger.

I am interested in trying to pin this down if possible. Was Peggy Seeger the one who introduced this song to the Revival? What is the earliest recording we know about in the U.S. of this version? And the earliest in print? As Malcolm mentioned above, Pete Seeger published it in his book, American Favorite Ballads, p. 77 (1961).   Interestly enough, Pete says on page 4 that this song comes "from "English Folk-songs from the Southern Appalachians" by Cecil Sharpe(sic)..." Surely this is a mistake.

Malcolm points out that Sharp did collect a two verse version of "Waly, Waly" in the Southern Appalachians, but did not publish it, at least in this particular collection. Is that correct? I sure don't remember coming across either "The Water is Wide" or "Waly, Waly" in my work with these volumes. I don't have access to them at the moment so I can't double check on this. I'm assuming that Seeger made a bibliographic mistake here. In the headnotes to the song he simply says, "Another song from England, collected by Cecil Sharp many years ago and titled by him "Waillie, Waillie."

I also don't have access to Sharp's collection of English songs. Did he incorporate any of the unprinted Appalachian version into his collation? I apologize for making work for the rest of you, but I can't get to the library for awhile to check this out.

I did not find "The Water is Wide" in Peggy Seeger's older songbook published by Oak. Has she published it some place else?

And, I have not been able to check out the Almeda Riddle reference. Apparently she recorded this song in the 1970's. Malcolm mentioned that he did not know where she got it from. She could easily have picked it up from the revival singers (I always think of Billy Graham!)on a recording or live. She learned lots of songs from lots of different places, even though she was a "traditional ballad singer".

So, I have basically two questions: 1. Are there any "early" American versions of Cox's "The Water is Wide"? - I have not found any in all of the collections I have looked at - and, 2. If it didn't get here until the Great Revival, who brought it over and when?

Malcolm may already have said all that can be said on this subject. I appreciate your clear work on this, Malcolm. Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 07:38 PM

The fact that Pete Seeger referred to his set of the song as Another song from England, collected by Cecil Sharp many years ago and titled by him "Waillie, Waillie" would tend to confirm (in spite of the odd spelling, which however also occurs in Silber and Sandburg) that it was the set published in the U.S.A. in Sharp's One Hundred English Folksongs (Oliver Ditson, 1916), though with a verse added from somewhere or other. The attribution to Sharp's English Folk-songs from the Southern Appalachians is certainly an error.

The published set was, as I mentioned, a collation; so far as I can tell, drawing on three sets all noted in Somerset. I don't see any evidence of interpolations from other sources. Working from the material printed in Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs (ed. Maud Kapeles, 1974: not a full edition of the collection, but the most extensive so far published), I'd break it down as follows:

The tune came from Caroline Cox, as did verse 2 (very slightly modified with reference to a set noted from James Thomas at Cannington in 1906); verse 3; verse 4 (also slightly amended from James Thomas' set); and verse 7 (with just a few words modified for the sake, I expect, of euphony).

Verse 1 was from Elizabeth Mogg (mentioned above) slightly edited. Verses 3 and 6 are from James Thomas (slightly edited); verse 8 is from Elizabeth Mogg, again slightly modified.

This collated form of the song has been known in America (in theory) since its publication there in 1916. Of course, there are plenty of cases of songs being taken up from such printed sources by singers who would in the general sense be considered "traditional", but the only possible example that I'm aware of in this particular case is Almeda Riddle; and I have no details about that, beyond the fact that she begins with the Water is wide verse, which would tend to suggest Sharp's collation as her (ultimate) source.

I don't recall where I read that Pete Seeger had the song from Peggy, but it seems likely enough. I haven't seen his book, so I don't know what the extra verse he added might have been; if it was the silver bells one that turns up in a number of Revival recordings, it could have come from any number of places, being a not uncommon "floater". At all events, the source was evidently a printed one judging by Pete's notes; if not Sharp's book, then another in which the collation had been reprinted.

That's about as much as I can manage by way of clarification at the moment. The unpublished Appalachian fragment I referred to is in Sharp's MSS (Folk Words p.2544 / Folk Tunes p.3456; noted from Mrs. Jane Gentry of Hot Springs, Carolina, 14th September 1916, and beginning As I walked out one morning in May [!]); I only know about it from the reference in the Roud Folk Song Index.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 08:51 PM

Interesting that "Waly, Waly, or Water is Wide," doesn't appear in either Brown's North Carolina or Randolph's Ozark collections. Malcolm summarized the evidence quite well in his posts to this and previous threads. It came from a Mrs. Mogg (see Malcolm's posts). I would guess that "Water is Wide came over here in the 20th century, perhaps with the English "I'm Often Drunk," but there is no record so far of this. Such a simple verse as "The Water is Wide,", with a memorable tune, should appear in collections if it came over early; outside of Sharp's mention of two verses (apparently no one has seen them), there seems to be little liklihood of the verse being found over here.
What is the earliest recording? Seeger? His sister? And what date? (He sang the version with a new verse in "Pete," 1982. This fancy version includes the Cathedral Singers, sax, and Gaudeamus). At the Roger McGuinn website, he says he heard Pete Seegar sing it at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, with his 12-string guitar. When? It seems to have much of the version published in "One Hundred English Folksongs," Cecil J. Sharp, Editor. The verse "Seagulls wheel..." was added by Seeger in 1982.

See Seeger's comments for his 1982 album: Waterwide
Seeger says that he learned it from his sister when she was going to Radcliffe in the 1950s. At a party at his sister's house he heard this version of it (the one he recorded). She had dropped all the waily-waily verses. He mentions that it was known in England and Scotland and makes NO mention of an American version.

Mary Black put out a version and calls it traditional (and, of course, Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Charlotte Church). Many recordings by many people, some of them arranging it to suit themselves. The "Cockle Shells" verse seems to have been added from Ireland to the English song- irishnation.com. claims the song for Ireland.

Cynthia Gooding sang it on Elektra in the 1950s (Faithful Lovers and Other Phenomena). Ted Alevisos sang it in the 1960s (Folksingers Round Harvard Square album). Other early recordings??


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 08:59 PM

Malcolm, thanks! Here is the version published in Pete Seeger's book, AMERICAN FAVORITE BALLADS (p.77):

The water is wide, I cannot get over,
And neither have I wings to fly.
Give me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

A ship there is and she sails the sea,
She's loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as the love I'm in,
And I know not how I sink or swim.

I leaned my back up against some young oak,
Thinking he was a trusty tree.
But first he bended, and then he broke,
And thus did my false love to me.

I put my hand into some soft bush,
Thinking the sweetest flower to find,
I pricked my finger to the bone,
And left the sweetest flower alone.

Oh, love is handsome and love is fine,
Gay as a jewel when first it is new,
But love grows old, and waxes cold,
And fades away like summer dew.

(Repeat first verse)

No additional verse here. However, here is the additional verse (from some place on Google):

The seagulls wheel, they turn and dive,
The mountain stands beside the sea.
This world we know turns round and round,
And all for them - and you and me.

Traditional New Last Verse by Pete Seeger (1982)
© 1993 by Sanga Music, Inc.

I hadn't thought about Sharp's collection of English songs being published in this country so early - 1916! Of course it was available in print. So my question remains, did Sharp's collated version ever make it back into the oral tradition prior to the folk revival and was it ever collected as such? Or, did something like Mrs. Cox's version ever make it across the ocean to this country prior to the folk revival? If not, was Peggy Seeger the one who introduced it, presumably from Sharp's book(?) or from some other source?   

Since Sharp collected his unpublished verses of "Waly, Waly" from Jane Hicks Gentry of Hot Springs, I went to her book, JANE HICKS GENTRY, A SINGER AMONG SINGERS, by Betty N. Smith (University of Kentucky Press), and found it there. The date on it is September 14, 1916, which I assume is the date she sang it for Cecil Sharp. I says that it may also be found in Bronson vol. 3. The two verses are:

As I walked out one morning in May,
A-gathering flowers all so gay,
I gathered white and I gathered blue,
But little did I know what love can do.

Seven ships on the sea,
Heavy loaded as they can be,
Deep in love as I have been,
But little do I care if they sink or swim.

Malcolm, has the Sharp version that you have analyzed shown up in any of these threads? If not, could you perhaps post a copy of it? T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 09:05 PM

Thanks, Guest. We crossed out there in the ether somewhere. I wonder if this song was being sung in England in the 1950's. Does Cynthia Gooding give any sources? I forgot to mention that the tune for Gentry's two verses is quite different from "The Water is Wide" tune. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 10:17 PM

I ought to have checked Bronson, but I don't have that part yet, unfortunately (and no time to get to the library). The additional verse you quote would be of Seeger's own making, presumably.

As I said earlier, the primary source was Caroline Cox. I had best be specific. First, then, the collated text, as published by Sharp in 1916:

The water is wide, I cannot get o'er
And neither have I wings to fly.
O go and get me some little boat
To carry o'er my true love and I.

A-down in the meadows the other day,
A-gath'ring flow'rs, both fine and gay,
A-gath'ring flowers, both red and blue,
I little thought what love could do.

I put my hand into one soft bush
Thinking the sweetest flow'r to find,
I prick'd my finger to the bone,
And left the sweetest flow'r alone.

I leaned my back up against some oak,
Thinking it was a trusty tree.
But first he bended and then he broke,
So did my love prove false to me.

Where love is planted, O there it grows,
It buds and blossoms like some rose;
It has a sweet and a pleasant smell,
No flow'r on earth can it excel.

Must I be bound, O and she go free!
Must I love one that does not love me!
Why should I act such a childish part,
And love a girl that will break my heart.

There is a ship sailing on the sea,
She's loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as in love I am;
I care not if I sink or swim.

O love is handsome and love is fine,
And love is charming when it is true;
As it grows older it groweth colder
And fades away like the morning dew.

The Somerset versions from which the above was compiled are as follows:

1: from Mrs. Caroline Cox (70) at High Ham, Somerset, 8th August 1905.

Down in the meadows the other day,
Gathering flowers both fine and gay,
Gathering flowers both red and blue,
I little thought what love can do.

I put my hand into the bush
Thinking the sweetest flower to find,
I pricked my finger to the bone
And leaved the sweetest flower alone.

I leaned my back against some oak
Thinking it was a trusty tree.
First he bended, then he broke
And so did my false love to me.

There is a ship sailing on the sea
But it's loaded so deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as in love I am,
I care not whether I sink or swim.

Since my love's dead and gone to rest
I'll think on her who I love best.
I've sewed her up in flannel strong,
Have another now she's dead and gone.

2: from James Thomas (89) at Cannington, Somerset, 20th April 1906.

O down in the meadows the other day
A-gathering flowers both rich and gay,
A-gathering flowers both red and blue,
I little thought what love could do.

Where love is planted there do grow,
It buds and blossoms just like some rose,
For it has a sweet and a pleasant smell,
No flower on earth can it excel.

I fetched my back once against an oak,
I thought it had been some trusty tree,
For the first it bent and the next it broke,
So did my love prove false to me.

Must I go bound and she go free?
Must I love one that don't love me?
Why should I act such a childish part
To love a girl that will break my heart?

3: from Mrs. Elizabeth Mogg at Holford, Somerset, 30th August 1904.

The water is wide and I can't get over
Neither have I got wings to fly.
Go and get me O some little, little boat
For to carry over my true love and I.

Love is handsome, love is pretty,
Love is charming when it is true;
As it grows older it grows colder
And fades away like the morning dew.

I had two dogs under my father's table.
They do prick their ears when they do hear the horn.
When I'm dead, dear, it will be all over
And I hope my friends will bury me.

Maud Karpeles notes: "This song was noted from Mrs. Mogg again on 10th August 1906. On this occasion the following lines, which appear to have been taken from another song, replaced stanza 2".

In London city the girls are pretty,
Streets are paved with marble stones.
My true lover the clever a woman
As ever trod on English ground.

I'm often drunk but never sober,
I'm a rover in every degree.
When I'm drinking I'm always a-thinking
How to gain my love's company.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 11:36 PM

All I have on the Gooding LP is the date, 1956, EKL-107 and the track title, "Waly, Waly." I don't know if this is the Water is Wide version.
I can't find Water is Wide or Waly, Waly listed on early Pete Seeger recordings. Only the late one, "Pete," 1982. Is there one??

Error on my part; never trust my memory- The verse "When cockle-shells turn into siller Bells" is in "Waly, Waly," Thomson, 1733, in Bronson's The Singing Tradition, Jamie Douglas, 4th verse of ten ("first printed in Orpheus Caledonius, 1725"). Thus not Irish. And no Water is Wide.
This may be already posted in the threads, but here is the first verse from Thomson.
O Waly, Waly, up yon bank,
And Waly, Waly, down yon Brea;
And Waly by yon River's side,
Where my Love and I was won't to gae.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 12:24 AM

Duncan Emrich ['American Folk Poetry'] gives the text [2 stanzas and chorus only] that is in the DT under the title 'When Cockle Shells Turn Silver Bells' as 'Waly Waly' and as an American version rather than English. He recorded it from Eugenia Blount Anderson of Maryland in 1947. Mrs Blount learned it orally in Georgia. The recording is on Library of Congress AFS record 8934 A2.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 01:17 AM

Since the "cockle shells" appears in an American version, perhaps the entire original Scottish song should appear here.

WALY, WALY

O Waly, Waly, up yon Bank,
And Waly, Waly, down yon Brea;
And Waly by yon River's side,
Where my love and I was won't to gae.

Waly, Waly, gin Love be bonny,
A little while when it is new;
But when it's auld, it waxes cauld,
And wears away, like Morning Dew.

I leant my back unto an Aik,
I thought it was a trusty Tree;
But first it bow'd, and sine it brake,
And sae did my fause Love to me.

When Cockle-shells turn siller Bells,
And Muscles grow on ev'ry Tree;
When Frost and Snaw shall warm us a',
Then shall my Love prove true to me.

Now Arthur-Seat shall be my Bed,
The Sheets shall ne'er be fyl'd by me;
Saint Anton's Well shall be my Drink,
Since my true Love has forsaken me.

O Martinmas Wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green Leaves off the Tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
And take a Life that wearies me.

'Tis not the Frost that freezes fell,
Nor blawing Snaw's Inclemency;
'Tis not sic Cauld that makes me cry,
But my Love's Heart grown cauld to me.

When we came in by Glasgow Town,
We were a comely Sight to see;
My Love was cled in the black Velvet,
And I my sell in Cramasie.

But had I wist before I kiss'd,
That Love had been sae ill to win;
I'd lock'd my Heart in a Case of Gold,
And pin'd it with a silver Pin.

Oh, Oh! if my young Babe was born,
And set upon the Nurse's Knee,
And I my sell were dead and gane,
For a Maid again I'll never be.

Thomson, 1733, I, opp. p. 71; less simply in [1725]*
a I (inflected VII) {with music}

From Bronson (see post above,) p. 362, Jamie Douglas, Child No. 204. *Orpheus Calidonius
In the discussion by Bronson, he says that it is an unwarranted inference that the song "Waly, Waly" ..."forms , without room for doubt", {as maintained by named authorities} "part of the ballad of "Jamie Douglas." There is, on the contrary, every reason to suppose that the makers of "Jamie Douglas", like the cobbler of "Arthur's Seat," made free use of a popular song to fill out their ballad, and sang the latter to the same tune."


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 02:01 PM

Malcolm, thanks for posting all of those lyrics. It is very helpful, combined with your analysis. I was interested to see that one of the verses from both Caroline Cox's version and James Thomas' version shows up in Jane Gentry's version from Hot Springs, North Carolina.

Here is Cox's verse:

Down in the meadows the other day,
Gathering flowers both fine and gay,
Gathering flowers both red and blue,
I little thought what love can do.

Here is Thomas' verse:

O down in the meadows the other day
A-gathering flowers both rich and gay,
A-gathering flowers both red and blue,
I little thought what love could do.

Here is Gentry's verse:

As I walked out one morning in May,
A-gathering flowers all so gay,
I gathered white and I gathered blue,
But little did I know what love can do.

And here is the way the verse shows up in Sharp's collated version:

A-down in the meadows the other day,
A-gath'ring flow'rs, both fine and gay,
A-gath'ring flowers, both red and blue,
I little thought what love could do.

And that Gentry's second verse can also be found in Cox's version, which is:

There is a ship sailing on the sea
But it's loaded so deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as in love I am,
I care not whether I sink or swim.

And Gentry is:

Seven ships on the sea,
Heavy loaded as they can be,
Deep in love as I have been,
But little do I care if they sink or swim.

Sharp collected from Cox in '05 and from Thomas in '06, and from Gentry in September of 1916. Sharp's English collection was published in America in 1916. It is remotely conceivable that Jane Gentry had come across a copy of Sharp's English collection before he arrived there, but highly unlikely and that instead, she came by her two verses independent of Sharp's printed version. It would probably be helpful to compare some tunes here, but I'm not able to do that at this time. In any case both of Gentry's verses also show up in Sharp's collated version, but her tune is different from "The Water is Wide" tune presumably used by Sharp.

While we can conclude that some of the "Waly, Waly" verses were current in the Southern Appalachians in the early part of the 20th century, I don't think we can conclude that "The Water is Wide" per se was being sung there.
---
Malcolm, from Guest's earlier post, here is Pete Seeger telling about how he got his version of the song from Peggy:

"The Water Is Wide" has long been one of the most widely known love laments in Britain. In both England and Scotland it has been in folk song collections for over a century or two, and known by a half-dozen or more names. I learned it from my sister Peggy. When she was going to Radcliffe in the mid-1950's, I visited Cambridge. I'd seen the song in a book and I'd passed it by as one more of those weepy-waily sentimental songs. I was twenty-eight at the time and impatient with weepy-waily songs.

Ten years later, at a party in my sister's house, I heard this version of it. She'd dropped the waily-waily verses and emphasised the poetic verses. It means an awful lot to me now because I keep thinking of the ocean of misunderstanding between human beings. And we can sing all sorts of militant songs, but if we can't bridge that ocean of misunderstanding we are not going to get this world together."

One of the "waily-waily" verses that Peggy apparently dropped, at least according to Pete's printed version in his song book was the one above about "down in the meadows". If Joan Baez got her version from Pete, then she further edited the other Gentry verse out about "a ship there is..." I would still like to find a copy of Peggy's version. Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 04:46 PM

Does anybody happen to have the lyrics handy for Peggy Seeger's version of "The Water is Wide"? And, would anyone know which of Peggy's albums has this track and whether or not that particular album is still available in the U.S.A.?

Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 06:03 PM

Almeda Riddle, a traditional ballad singer from Arkansas, and a collector and singer of all kinds of songs, is listed as one who has recorded "The Water is Wide" on "Granny Riddle's Songs and Ballads," Minstrel JS-203, LP (1977), cut#B.05. The question is where and when she learned this song and from whom? Was this a "traditional" song she learned from her family or others early on, or is this a song she picked up from the "folk revival" once she began to perform in that context? The date for the recording suggests that latter context.

I looked at her book today, A SINGER AND HER SONGS; ALMEDA RIDDLE'S BOOK OF BALLADS, edited by Roger D. Abrahams and published in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Lousisiana State University Press in 1970. The book predates the recording by seven years. While there is an extensive discussion by Granny Riddle of her songs and singing, and two appendices listing her songs, neither "The River is Wide" nor any variant of this is mentioned. The book was edited and put together by Mr. Abrahams from tape recordings he made of Mrs. Riddle in June and July of 1964, February of 1965, and April of 1967. It would seem to me that if she knew this song at that time it would be mentioned. I would guess that she learned it later, after the book was published, and that she learned it from people she met on the "folksong circuit" in the late sixties and early seventies.

Does anybody have a copy of this album, with lyrics and/or liner notes? What does she sing and what does she say about it? She loved to collect and learn songs from all over the place. I don't know why she wouldn't have continued that interest after she became involved with the folk revival.   

I'm also still trying to track down Peggy Seeger's version and her role in the transmission of this song if anybody has her lyrics. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: mg
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 09:15 PM

what a wretched additional verse. Why would anyone take such a beautiful song and try to embellish it? it's not like it didn't have enough verses...Oh well, to each his/her own.

mg


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 01:38 PM

Malcolm,

Jane Gentry's version of "Waly, Waly", collected by Cecil Sharp in 1916, is not in Bronson, contrary to the information above. He doesn't have any of the "Water is Wide" versions either. Gentry's version can be found, not in Sharp's published collection, but in the book about her by Betty Smith, JANE HICKS GENTRY, A SINGER AMONG SINGERS, published by the University of Kentucky.

Since I have re-opened this thread, let me ask again, does anybody have Peggy Seeger's lyrics to this song, or any information on where she learned it? And where she has recorded it? Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 06:47 PM

Pete mentioned to me that he had originally taken his arrangement of the song from an early recording of John Charles Thomas, the baritone who recorded in the late twenties I believe.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 09:31 PM

Are you looking for the first American version of the entire song (whatever that means) or the melody or some of the verses? Sharp (1918) collected a version of the words (his #273) to a different tune:

"I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I was a child again
But that I ain't and never will be
Till apples grow on a willow tree"

Of course, "Careless Love" is clearly related.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 08:19 AM

Frank, that is a very interesting piece of new information and pushes the dates around considerably, as well as the issue of where Pete got the song. From what you say, this would indicate that Pete was familiar with this song (probably{?}the version of "Waly, Waly" from Sharp's ONE HUNDRED ENGLISH FOLKSONGS) before he heard it from his sister, Peggy, who had apparently done her own editing, according to Pete's account posted above.

My guess is, and I'm trying to track it down at the present, that Pete must have combined his previous hearing of the recording with what his sister was doing, and began singing his version of it, adding his own last verse, of which he says, "It means an awful lot to me now because I keep thinking of the ocean of misunderstanding between human beings. And we can sing all sorts of militant songs, but if we can't bridge that ocean of misunderstanding we are not going to get this world together."

Perhaps it was Pete's version and singing that introduced the song to the revival. I know that Guy Carawan says that he learned it from Pete. In his liner notes from an early Folkways recording, "Songs With Guy Carawan", Guy says:

    "I learned this English folksong from Pete Seeger one day while we were driving along in a car in upstate New York. Later I had the opportunity to hear it sung in London by Shirley Collins - the very beautiful folksinger from Sussex, England."
----
Dick, I'm interested in two things:

1. Was the currently popular "Water is Wide" version ever sung traditionally in North America? So far, the answer seems to be "no", not until it was introduced during the "Folk Revival" of the '50's and '60's. There are scattered verses of "Waly, Waly" in the tradition but with other tunes (Cf. Sandburg, Sharp, Cox, etc.) But the familiar "Water is Wide" seems to go back to Cecil Sharp's collated, edited, and polished, published version in ONE HUNDRED ENGLISH FOLKSONGS.

2. If this is true, then who was responsible for introducting "The Water is Wide" to the folk revival. Was it Peggy Seeger? Or was it Pete Seeger? Or both, or others? Was it going strong in the British Isles before it was brought over here (during the revival)?

    The answer to the first question has to be traced through the written records, but the answer to the second question must still lie out there in the oral tradition. Frank's contribution is a great example of this. Thanks for all of your help, and lets hear more. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST,Donal
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 12:46 AM

The following extract was published in 1897, it doesn't add anything to the question about the first American "Waly,Waly", but I think it is an interesting addition to the Waly/Jamie Douglas corpus
       D. O'C


Waly, Waly
On the Antrim version of "Waly, Waly." U.J.A. Series II Vol. 3 Pages 144/148.
BY J. JOHNSTON ABRAHAM, T.C.D.


Judging from the number of ballads containing: verses from " Waly, Waly," it must have been widely known and very popular in Scotland some three centuries ago, though it never appeared in a permanent literary form until 1725, when a fragment of four verses was printed in the first edition of Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius. About the same time Allan Ramsay was publishing his Tea Table Miscellany (1724-7), and in it the ballad first appeared in the form in which we have it now. In 1733 the second edition of the Orpheus Caledonius was issued, and this time the ballad was given in full, containing as did the edition of 1735 also a verse not found in Ramsay's version, and which has been rejected as spurious by every editor since the time of Percy until now. No further publication is known until that in the first edition of the 'Reliques' (1765). In this edition, Percy seems to have used both Ramsay's and Thomson's versions. He gives it with the following note : *

So far, the history of the ballad is quite clear; but in 1776, Herd, in the second edition of his Scottish Songs, printed five stanzas of a ballad called "Jamie Douglas," which contained verses also found in " Waly, Waly." Since that time the industry of collectors has unearthed some fourteen or fifteen other versions of the "Jamie Douglas" ballad, all of which contain verses also found in "Waly,Waly;" and so a fierce war of words has arisen as to which is the original: whether " Waly, Waly" is simply made up of verses taken from "Jamie Douglas," or "Jamie Douglas" is a totally different ballad, the authors of which plagiarised from the already well-known and popular " Waly, Waly." Critics were for some time pretty fairly divided in their opinions, but the tendency of more recent literature is in favour of the priority and independence of "Waly, Waly." The peculiar interest of this Antrim version is that it contains, besides the stanzas found in "Waly, Waly," one found in "Jamie Douglas" alone.

We shall first give the text here, and the parallel verses in the other ballads, and then note the points worthy of interest.

* "This is a very ancient song, but we could only give it from a modern copy." The copy used seems to have been the London edition of Thomson, as it varies slightly from Ramsay's version just where Thomson varies However, he must have known of Ramsay's edition also, as he rejects the verse not found in 'The Tea Table Miscellany'.

From the recitation of Mary O'Donnell, Toberdoney, Dervock, Co. Antrim.
Oh! Johnnie, Johnnie,1 but love is bonnie,
A wee while just when it is new ; 2
But when it's old, love, it then grows cold,        love
And fades away like the morning dew.        


Oh! Johnnie, Johnnie, but you are nice, love,
You are the first love that ere I had ; 3
You are the first love that ere I had,        
So come kiss me, Johnnie, before ye gang.        


One kiss of my lips you ne'er shall get, love,        
Nor in my arms 4 you ne'er shall lie,        
Until you grant me that one request, love,
That oftentime you did me deny.        


All for to grant you that one request, love,        
I might as well on you my heart bestow;
For as good a lover as you may come,
And who can hinder your 5 love to go.        


It's love doth come, yes,6 and love doth go,
Like the wee sma'7 birds intill their nests;
If it's 8 to tell you all that I know,
The lad's naw here that I love best.        


If he was here that's to be my dear
I'd cast those angry frowns away;
If he was here that's to be my dear,        
I'd scarce have power to say him nay,        


It's ower the moss, love, ye needna cross, love,
Nor through the mire ye needna ride;        
For I hae gotten a new sweetheart, love,
And you may to choose your ain self a bride.9        


It's had I known, the first time I kissed you,        
Young woman's heart's love were so hard to win.
I would have locked it all in a chest, love,
And screwed it tight with a silver pin.        



         
PARALLEL VERSES.

" O, Waly, Waly! but love be bonny,
A little time while it is new
But when 'tis auld it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like morning dew."
Waly, Waly, verse iii., from Tea Table Miscellany.        

"Hey, trollie, lollie, love is jollie,
A quhile quhil itt is new,
Quhen it is old, it grows full cold;
Wae worth the love untrue."
Woods MS., 1620.        

"Oh ! Johnie, Johnie,l but love is bonnie,
A little while when it is new
But when love grows aulder, it grows mair caulder,
And it fades awa like the mornin' dew."
Motherwell's MS., p. 299. Child's version, J - 2,        

"I've heard it said, and it's often seen
The hawk that flies far frae her nest
And a' the world shall plainly see
It's Jamie Douglas that I lose best."
Kinlock's MSS., V. 387. Child's, B-14.        

"The linnet is a bonnie bird,
And often flees far frae its nest;
So all the world may plainly see
They're far awa that I luve best."
Motherwell's MS., p. 500. Child's, I-16.        

"It's often said in a foreign land
That the hawk she flies far from her nest
It's often said, and it's very true,
He's far from me this day that I love best. "
Motherwell's MS., p.345. Child's, G _l6.        

" It's 'very true, and it's often said,
The hawk she's flown and she's left her nest
But a' the world may plainly see
They're far awa that I luve best."
Mothewell's MS., p. 297. Child's, H -12,        

"But had I wist, before I kissed,        
That love had been sae ill to win,        
I'd locked my heart in a case of gold,        
And pin'd it with a silver pin.'
" Waly, Waly," V-9        

"But gin I had wist or I had kisst,
That young man's love was sae ill to win
I would hae lockt my heart wi' a key o' gowd
And pinn'd it wi a sillar pin."
Motherwell's MS., p. 507. Child's, F-3.        

"If I had known what I know now
That love it was sae ill to win,
I should ne'er hae wet my cherry cheek
For onie man or woman's son."
Motherwell's MS., p. 299. Child's, J-7.        

" Oh if I had nere been born,
Than to have died when I was young!
Then I had never wet my cheeks
For the love of any woman's son."        

"Arthur's seat shall be my bed."
Laine's Broadside Baliads No. 61
Child's Eng. and Scot. Ballads, vii. 105.
(Edit. 1890.)

 



1. Motherwell suggested that " Johnie, Johnie " in his version was a corruption for " nonnie; nonnie," as there is no character named ''Johnie'' in the plot of the "Jamie Douglas" ballad. It is just possible that the name has been taken from the Antrim version.

2. A variation of the second line is " A little time while it is new," but I prefer the more archaic version, though this agrees more closely with Allan Ramsay's, because it is more likely that the older form has been modernised than that the original has been Doricised; and, besides, Ramsay was as fond of repolishing these "auld sangs" as the Bishop himself, so that his versions cannot always be considered literally indisputable..

3. A variation of the third line is " You are the first love that ere I knew." It was probably for variety's sake.

4. Pronounced "a-rums.".

5. A variation for " your love " is " you, love.".

6. " Yes " is often omitted..

7. For " wee sma " I have heard " little small.".

8. For " it's " some say " it was.".

9. These two last lines are sometimes sung thus:
" For I hae gotten a new sweetheart, and you
May go choose your ain self a bride.".

From the verses given it will be observed that there are three parallels to the 1st, four to the 5th, and three to the 8th verse; and that the parallels to the 5th verse are all taken from the "Jamie Douglas" set, and none from "Waly, Waly." This is a very important fact, because it suggests three possible explanations as to the origin of this balladã.

1. That the author of this ballad knew both the "Waly, Waly " and the "Jamie Douglas " set, and plagiarised from both..

2. That it is a much older ballad than either "Waly, Waly" or "Jamie Douglas," and that the authors of these ballads plagiarised from it..

3. That it is a ballad intermediate in date between "Waly, Waly," and "Jamie Douglas;" preserved in an imperfect state; containing verses out of " Waly, Waly," and itself furnishing at least one verse to the "Jamie Douglas " set..

If the first and more obvious theory be correct, it would imme diately settle the date of the ballad to be later than I681, because the incidents celebrated in the "Jamie Douglas" ballads happened between the years 1670-81. The first date is that of the marriage of Lady Barbara Erskine to James, 2nd Marquis Douglas; the second is that of their legal separation. The ballad itself is the lament of Lady Barbara over the separation, and her account of the slanders of Lowrie of Blackwood, owing to which the divorce was obtained..

If, then, this Antrim version derived verses from "Jamie Douglas," it is obviously not possibly older than 1681. Such was our own opinion for some time, but on looking into the matter, and comparing the natural way in which verse 5 comes into the context with the awkward manner in which its parallels appear in "Jamie Douglas," it occurred to us that, if anything, the plagiarism was on the side of the author of "Jamie Douglas." On sending the ballad for inspection to Professor Child, this idea was greatly strengthened, for he wrote in reply " It is extremely probable that the nest, etc., in 5 is the origin of the rather incongruous passages in B, G, H, I, of 'Jamie Douglas' which you refer to.".

If it is of an older date than "Waly, Waly," it was probably        written before 1600. This is about as close as we can go, since the        date of "Waly, Waly" has not been definitely settled. Aytoun, in the 1st edition of the 'Ballads of Scotland', maintained that it was written prior to 1566..

["There is also evidence that it was written before 1556, for there is extant a MS. of that date in which it is transcribed." (Ballads of Scolland, i. 130, ed. 1858). This MS. mentioned by Aytoun was transcribed by Thomas Wode from        an old psalter compiled by Dean Angus, Andrew Blackhall, and others. It contains the following verse, which is supposed to be a parody on "Waly, Waly":

"Hey, trollie, lollie, love is jolly,
A quhile quhil itt is new,
Quhen it is old, it grows full cold,
Wae worth the love untrue. "        .

Maidment (Scotlish Ballads and Songs, 1868) doubts whether this be a parody or not, but admits, nevertheless, that the ballad is ancient. There exists also an old ballad, "Arthur's Seat shall be my Bed," which contains verses like some found in " Waly, Waly," and which is said to have been printed before the Tea Table Miscellany. ].

Stenhouse tried to connect it with a court scandal in the reign of        Mary Queen of Scots, several ballads on which exist. Maidment        denies the connection, whilst admitting that the ballad is ancient; so agreeing with its first editor, Allan Ramsay, and with the author of the 'Reliques'. This consensus of opinion makes one place it some where about 1600, and so, if the Antrim version is more ancient still, its date must be prior to this.        .

Unfortunately, the imperfect state in which it has been preserved        hardly justifies one in maintaining such an hypothesis. It is evidently in a very fragmentary condition: no connected plot can be made out; the two characters are self-contradictory; and so it hardly seems logical to assume, since we have only the fragments of a ballad to judge from, that a clear, well-told pathetic ballad like "Waly, Waly" has been plagiarised from it.

If, then, we reject this hypothesis, we are reduced to the third and last, namely, that the Antrim version contains stanzas from "Waly, Waly," and has itself given verse 5 in various forms to the "Jamie Douglas " set, and perhaps the variation " Johnie, Johnie " in Motherwell's ballad (J-2). This would of course place its date somewhere between those of the two other ballads; and if we assume that Aytoun's argument is correct, and that "Waly, Waly" was written before 1566, there is then no difficulty in our also supposing that the ballad came to Ireland as early as the date of the Ulster Plantation.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Declan
Date: 18 Dec 02 - 11:30 AM

I know it doesn't add much to the fascinating information being given about this song/song(s) here, but I thought I'd mention that the I wish I wish verse quoted by Dick Greenhaus above is (also?) from The Butcher Boy. Is this another related song, or is it just a floating verse.

By the way its not in the version in the DT, which (by coincidence?) also comes from Peggy Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Dec 02 - 10:44 AM

As far as we know, it would seem that the tune for today's popular version of "The Water is Wide" can be traced back to Mrs. Caroline Cox, of High Ham, Somerset, and was "collected" from her by Cecil Sharp on August 8, 1905. This tune, with these lyrics, does not seem to show up anywhere in the North American traditions until the mid-twentieth century folk music revival. Both of these statements are very tentative and begging for correction if anyone has additional information.

In reading the article by Mr. J.W. Allen, entitled "Some Notes On 'O Waly Waly'", published in the JOURNAL OF THE ENGLISH FOLK DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY, Vol. VII, No. 3, December, 1954, pp. 161-171, I came across two interesting references. In his discussion of Mrs. Cox's song, Allen says, "a similar tune to this occurs in a version of "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor" and again in a version of both(sic) "Young Hunting", from the Appalachians."(p.163)

Mr. Allen is referring to Cecil Sharp's collection in ENGLISH FOLK SONGS FROM THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS. There are two versions of "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor" that are interesting. The first one was sung by Mrs. Hester House at Hot Springs, NC, on September 14, 1916 (Sharp's No. 19, A). With my limited ability to read music, I would say that the first phrase (first two full measures) of Mrs. House's song is definitely similar to the opening phrase of Mrs. Cox's song. The rest of the tune does not seem similar.   

Sharp also collected a version of "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor" from Mrs. Rosie Hensley, at Carmen, NC, on August 8, 1916 (Sharp's No. 19, C). He only gives the tune in this case. I would say that Mrs. Hensley's whole tune is definitely reminiscent of Mrs. Cox's tune. The timing is somewhat different, but the similarity is there. Both of these versions come from Madison County, North Carolina.

Sharp collected a version of "Young Hunting" from Mrs. Margaret Dunagan at St. Helen's, Lee County, Kentucky, on September 5, 1917. Once again, the tune seems to be related to that of Mrs. Cox's song, especially the opening phrase, which is so distinct.

I would invite those of you who are more able to read music and have access to Sharp's Appalachian and English collections to take a look at these three examples and compare them to the tune he collected from Mrs. Cox in Somerset and tell us what you think. If the tunes are related then that would give us some evidence that at least the tune was in the North American tradition, probably in the 19th century, even though, like the verses of "Waly, Waly" it seems to have traveled from song to song.

Does anyone know of other examples of Mrs. Cox's tune in the British or Irish traditions? Does it show up with other lyrics? Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: ADD Version: Waillie, Waillie! (Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 02:48 AM

Gee, Sandburg's American Songbag doesn't have a very long version. Here it is:

WAILLIE, WAILLIE!

When cockle shells turn silver bells,
Then will my love return to me.
When roses blow, in wintry snow,
Then will my love return to me.
Oh, waillie! waillie!
But love is bonnie
A little while when it is new!
But it grows old and waxeth cold,
And fades away live evening dew.

Sandburg's notes: An arrangement of an old-time British piece as made known by Daniel Read and Isadora Bennett Read of Chicago, Illinois, and Columbia, South Carolina. Its stately diction might be compared to certain laced ladies and ruffled gentlemen imprisoned in fine porcelain works of England a century or two ago. It is a deep heart cry, too profound and prolonged to be called poignant, yet shaken with memory of passion.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST,barbbanjo
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 06:11 PM

Jane Gentry was my great grandmother and it has been interesting to me to find her in this thread. I've heard The Water is Wide but had no idea that Grandma had part of it in her repertoire. I have the book Jane Gentry, A Singer Among Singers and indeed her version is in the list of tunes attributed to her. I know Grandma also did know a lot of hymns and childrens' tunes. I believe her favorite hymn was Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: raredance
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 12:20 AM

Water Is Wide
sung by Almeda Riddle (Granny Riddle's Songs and Ballads)


Now the water's wide and I can't cross over
Neither have I the wings to fly
But give me a boat that will carry two
And we both will row, my love and I

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it was a trusty tree
But first it bent, then it broke
So has my false true love for me

O the water's wide and I can't cross over
And neither do I have the wings to fly
But give me a boat that will carry two
And we both will row, my love and I

I put my hand into a bush
Thinking the fairest flower to find
But I pricked my finger to the bone
And I left the fairest flower behind

O the water's wide and I can't cross over
And neither do I have the wings to fly
But give me a boat that will carry two
And we both will row, my love and I

Now there's a ship that sails the sea
She's laden down as a ship can be
But not more..... than the love I'm in
And I don't know if I'll sink or swim

O the water's wide and I can't cross over
And neither do I have the wings to fly
But give me a boat that will carry two
And we both will row, my love and I


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: raredance
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 12:25 AM

I forgot to add in the previous thread that the "..." in the ship verse is a record skip and I do not know if a word is missing. Note that she uses the "water is wide" verse as a repeating chorus.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 14 - 12:46 PM

whats the darn history behind this song?


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Dec 14 - 12:57 PM

MARCHIONESS OF DOUGLAS, WALY WALY"The Water Is Wide" (also called "O Waly, Waly") is a folk song of English origin? Scottish more likely, based on lyrics that partly date to the 1600s. It remains popular in the 21st century. Cecil Sharp published the song in Folk Songs From Somerset (1906). It is related to Child Ballad 204 (Roud number 87), Jamie Douglas, which in turn refers to the ostensibly unhappy first marriage of James Douglas, 2nd Marquess of Douglas to Lady Barbara Erskine.


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Subject: RE: Water Is Wide - First American Version
From: Little Robyn
Date: 06 Dec 14 - 04:09 PM

I don't see any mention here about the American version that I first heard - from PP&M about 1963. But they called it There is a ship.
Robyn


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