Popular Ballads of the Olden Time

The following is from Popular Ballads of the Olden Time: Third Series - Ballads of Scottish Tradition and Romance Selected and Edited by Frank Sidgwick:

The Gardener

The Text of this pretty little song is taken from Kinloch's MSS., where it is in James Beattie's handwriting. In Five Excellent New Songs, printed at Edinburgh in 1766, there is an older but much corrupted version of this song, confused with two other songs, a 'Thyme' song and the favourite 'I sowed the seeds of love.' It is printed as two songs, The New Lover's Garland and The Young Maid's Answer, both with the following refrain:--

'Brave sailing here, my dear,
  And better sailing there,
And brave sailing in my love's arms,
  O if I were there!'

The Story is so slight that the song can scarcely be counted as a narrative. But it is one of the lyrical dialogues covered by the word 'ballad,' and was not ruled out by Professor Child. There seems to be a loss of half a verse in 7, which should doubtless be two stanzas.

The gardener stands in his bower-door,
  With a primrose in his hand,
And by there came a leal maiden,
  As jimp's a willow wand.
And by, etc.

'O lady, can you fancy me,
  For to be my bride?
You'll get a' the flowers in my garden
  To be to you a weed.                        ['weed,' dress]

'The lily white shall be your smock,
  Becomes your body neat;
And your head shall be deck'd with jelly-flower,
  And the primrose in your breast.

'Your gown shall be o' the sweet-william,
  Your coat o' camovine,                     ['camovine,' camomile]
And your apron o' the salads neat,
  That taste baith sweet and fine.

'Your stockings shall be o' the broad kail-blade,
  That is baith broad and long;
And narrow, narrow at the coot,        ['coot,' ankle]
  And broad, broad at the brawn.       ['brawn,' calf]

'Your gloves shall be the marygold,
  All glittering to your hand,
Well spread o'er wi' the blue blaewort,
  That grows in corn-land.'

'O fare you well, young man,' she says,
  'Farewell, and I bid adieu;
Since you've provided a weed for me,
  Among the summer flowers,
Then I'll provide another for you,
  Among the winter showers.

'The new-fallen snow to be your smock,
  Becomes your body neat;
And your head shall be deck'd with the eastern wind,
  And the cold rain on your breast.'

John o' the Side


Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2016