Digital Tradition Mirror

Dewy Dens of Yarrow

Dewy Dens of Yarrow

There were five sons and two were twins
 There were five sons of Yarrow
 They all did fightn for their own true loven
 In the dewy dens of Yarrow

 Oh mother dear I hadn a dream
 A dream of grief and sorrow
 I dreamed I was gathering heather blooms
 In the dewy dens of Yarrow

 Oh daughter dear I readn your dream
 Your dream of grief and sorrow
 Your love, your love is lying slain
 In the dewy dens of Yarrow

 She sought him up and she sought him down
 She sought him all through Yarrow
 And then she found him lying slain
 In the dewy dens of Yarrow

 She washed his face and she combed his hair
 She combed it neat and narrow
 And then she washed that bloody bloody wound
 That he got in the Yarrow

 Her hair it was three quarters long
 The color it was yello
 She wound it round his waist so small
 And took him home from Yarrow

 Oh Mother dear go maken my bedn
 Go make it neat and narrow
 My love my love he diedn for me
 I'll die for him to-morrow

 Oh daughter dear don't be so grieved
 So grieved with grief and sorrow
 I'll wedn you to a better one
 Than you lost in the Yarrow

 She dressed herself in clean white clothes
 And away to the waters of Yarrow
 And there she laid her own self down
 And died on the banks of the Yarrow

 The wine that runs through the water deepn
 Comes from the sons of Yarrow
 They all did fightn for their own true loven
 In the dewy dens of Yarrow

Child #214
Max Hunter, Folksongs from the Ozarks, 1963, Folk-Legacy Records.

 Max Hunter's version of 'The Dewy Dens of Yarrow" was learned from
 Herbert Philbrick, an old man who lived in Crocker, Missouri, in the
 summer of 1957. The text actually combines elements of two of the Child
 ballads: #214 ("The Braes o' Yarrow) and #215 ("Rare Willie Drowned in
 Yarrow"). Mary Celestia Parler, who wrote the notes that accompany
 Max's record, notes its textual similarity to the version Herbert Halpert
 collected from George Edwards in the Catskills, although the tune is quite
 different. I would urge you to read the extensive introductory note to #214
 in Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, which you can
 probably find in your library. If not, urge your librarian to order it through
 inter-library loan. Better still, look at the numerous versions with tunes that
 were gathered by Bertrand Bronson (42 versions of #214 and 9 of #215)
 and published in Volume 3 of The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads.

 Child and Bronson demonstrate the historical and geographical range of the
 ballad(s) much more completely than we can offer here, but both seem to
 have originated in Scotland, with the earliest text of #215 showing up in
 Orpheus Caledonius (1733). Bronson also includes a fine version that
 Mary Parler overlooked (or had no access to) when she wrote the notes for
 my recording of Max Hunter, namely the fine versio
 on one of our "custom" cassettes, and comes with the accompanying booklet of no
 and lyrics.


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