> Folk Music > Songs > The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair

The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair

[ Roud 3032 ; Henry H24 , H575 ; Ballad Index HHH024 ; trad.]

Boys of the Lough sang The Lass with the Bonny Brown Hair in 1973 on their Second Album. on Bill Leader's Trailer label and in 1999, as The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair on their album The West of Ireland.

Maggie Boyle sang The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair in 1996 on her and Steve Tilston's CD All Under the Sun. She commented in their liner notes:

This version of an old song comes from the Colm O'Lochlainn collection of Irish Street Ballads [1935] and is, I think, a shiningly good example from a particular mould. There are many others of similar content and style. In this case, the main characters are patently privileged individuals, both monied landowners. The pathos of this young man's situation is further diminished by his hopes as expressed in the last line. He leaves us with his eyes firmly on the cloud's silver lining.

Kathryn Roberts sang The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair in 2001 on her first album with Sean Lakeman, aptly named 1..

Broom Bezzums sang Bonny Brown Hair on their 2007 album Arise You Sons of Freedom…. They noted:

Mark [Bloomer] learned this song from a self-proclaimed professional Irishman in a bar in Brittany (which has now collapsed, incidentally). This is a traditional song, but as Mark was extremely drunk at the time he learnt it the melody became somewhat improvised—hence this arrangement. A reminder of just how cruel women can be…

Lucy Wright sang The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair at Pilgrims' Way's concert at The Gate to Southwell Folk Festival in 2013. I don't know of any recording of this song by them.

Lyrics

Maggie Boyle sings The Maid with the Bonny Brown Hair

As once I roved out very early
To view the green meadows in Spring,
It was down by the side of a river
I heard a young maiden did sing.
And I stood in completest amazement,
I gazed on that maiden so fair.
She appeared to me brighter than Venus,
The maid with the bonny brown hair.

Her eyes they did shine like the diamonds,
Her cheeks like the red rose in June;
Her skin was as white as the lily,
And her breath had the rarest perfume.
And a dress of the best speckled velvet
This charming wee lass she did wear,
And chains of bright gold and pure silver
Were twined in her bonny brown hair.

For a long while we courted together
Till at last we named the wedding day.
Then one day, while conversing together,
Very kindly to me she did say:
“O, it's I have another far kinder
My land and my fortune to share,
So farewell to you now, and forever,”
Said the maid with the bonny brown hair.

And once I went over the ocean,
Being bound for the proud land of Spain,
Some singing and dancing for pleasure,
But I had a heart full of pain.
And as the ship sailed down the river
I spied my old sweetheart so fair;
Quite content in the arms of another
Was the maid with the bonny brown hair.

So farewell to my friends and relations,
Perchance I shall see you no more.
And when I'm in some far distant nation
I will sigh for my dear native shore;
When I'm in some far distant nation,
My land and my fortune to share,
I hope I'll get someone far kinder
Than the maid with the bonny brown hair.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Eyes Did Sparkle Like Diamonds / Bonny Brown Hair.