> Waterson:Carthy > Songs > May Morning

May Morning / As I Roamed Out / The Bonny Green Tree

[ Roud 2512 ; Laws p19 ; Henry H794 ; Bodleian Roud 2512 ; trad.]

John Reilly sang The Bonny Green Tree in a recording made by Tom Munnelly in his own home in Dublin in Winter 1967. It was publishd in 1977 as the title track of his Topic album The Bonny Green Tree: Songs of an Irish Traveller.

Eliza Carthy sang this song as May Morning in 2002 on Waterson:Carthy's fourth album A Dark Light. She accompanied herself on violin and Barnaby Stradling played a Fylde acoustic bass guitar. Martin Carthy commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Liza learned May Morning from the Cecil Sharp collection, also Crystal Spring, where she played with a rhythm of the tune, changing it from a straight three-four time to a kind of twelve-eight, filled with shifting accents. People sometimes get nervous about country idylls. The exist a-plenty in England, and, superficially I suppose, such reluctance can be seen as understandable. But, going even the teeniest bit deeper, isn't it surely true that people have always dreamed about having it better? And why not? When one lives a life as hard and unrelenting as the people who made these songs then dreamworlds such as The Big Rock Candy Mountain or, indeed, The Land of Cockaigny (as the European variants are known) can be seen in a clearer light and with a proper perspective.

Andy Turner sang this song as As i Roamed Out on October 18, 2011 as the week 8 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He noted that this song was collected by George Butterworth in 1908 from a Mrs Whiting of Broseley in Shropshire (or possibly Newport in Monmouthshire) and was printed in Michael Dawney (ed.): The Ploughboy's Glory (EFDSS 1977), a collection of previously unpublished songs from the George Butterworth collection. As Eliza sings nearly exactly Mrs Whiting's words it is quite possible that Martin Carthy had misremembered her source and she got the song from this one, too.

Lyrics

Mrs Whiting sings As I Roamed Out

As I roam'd out one May morning, one May morning so early,
'Twas down by the side of a shady green tree;
O there I beheld a most beautiful damsel,
She sat there a-sighing all underneath a tree.

I stepped up to this fair maid, I wished her good morning,
She was the very first girl that ever wounded me:
“You never shall want for gold or bright silver,
If you will only place your reflections on me.”

“I thank you, kind sir, but I think you are a-joking,
I think you are fitting for a higher girl than me;
Besides your own friends, they will always be a-frowning,
They'll always be a-frowning and scolding of me.”

Come all you pretty fair maids, that go now a-courting,
Never trust a young man of any higher degree;
For when they've enjoyed all the flowers of your garden,
Then they will go and leave you, as my love left me.

Eliza Carthy sings May Morning

As I walked out one May morning, one May morning so early,
'Twas down by the side of a shady green tree
Oh there I beheld a most beautiful damsel,
She sat there a-sighing all underneath the tree.

I stepped up to this fair maid, I wished a good morning,
She was the very first girl that ever wounded me.
“You never shall want for gold or bright silver
If you will only place your reflections on me.”

“I thank you, kind sir, but I think you are a-joking,
You think you are more fitting for higher girls than me.
Besides your own friends they will always be a-frowning,
They'll always be a-frowning and scolding of me.”

Come all you pretty fair maids that go now a-courting,
Never trust a young man of any higher degree:
For when they've enjoyed all the flowers of your garden,
Then they will go and leave you, as my love left me.

(Repeat first verse)

Acknowledgements

Eliza Carthy posted her own verses in the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: May Morning / Shady Green Tree.