Category Archives: Traditional Song

The Loveable Child

The Turtle Dove. Sophie Gengembre Anderson.


The Loveable Child

Emile Poulsson


Frisky as a lambkin,

Busy as a bee—

That’s the kind of little girl

People like to see.


Modest as a violet,

As a rosebud sweet—

That’s the kind of little girl

People like to meet.


Bright as a diamond,

Pure as any pearl—

Everyone rejoices in

Such a little girl.


Happy as a robin,

Gentle as a dove—

That’s the kind of little girl

Everyone will love.


Fly away and seek her,

Little song of mine,

For I choose that very girl

As my Valentine.

A Song of Greatness

The Last of the Buffalo. Albert Bierstadt. 1888.


A Song of Greatness

A Chippewa Indian Song translated by Mary Austin


When I hear the old men

Telling of heroes,

Telling of great deeds

Of ancient days,

When I hear them telling,

Then I think within me

I too am one of these.


When I hear the people

Praising the great ones,

Then I know that I too

Shall be esteemed,

I too when my time comes

Shall do mightily.

My Orchard in Linden Lea

Under the Apple Trees. Sir Walter Westley Rusell.


My Orchard in Linden Lea

William Barnes (Common English version)


Within the woodlands, flow’ry gladed,

By the oak tree’s mossy root,

The shining grass-blades, timber-shaded,

Now do quiver under foot.

And birds do whistle overhead,

And water’s bubbling in its bed,

And there for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


When leaves that lately were a-springing

Now do fade within the copse,

And painted birds do hush their singing

Up upon the timber tops,

And brown-leav’d fruit’s a-turning red

In cloudless sunshine overhead,

With fruit for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


Let other folk make money faster

In the air of dark-roomed towns—

I don’t dread a peevish master,

Though no man do heed my frowns.

I be free to go abroad

Or take again my homeward road

To where for me the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


A Little Poetry—The original poem, “My Orcha’d in Linden Lea,” by William Barnes was written in the Dorset dialect. It begins “‘Ithin the woodlands, flow’ry gleaded;/ By the woak tree’s mossy moot,/ The sheenan grass bleads, timber sheaded,/ Now do quiver under voot.”

A Little Music—The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music this poem in common English and another by Barnes—”In the Spring.” You can listen to a beautiful choral recording of the song “Linden Lea” at You Tube. <>

Down by the Salley Gardens

Water Willow. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 1871.


Down by the Salley Gardens

William Butler Yeats, 1889


Down by the salley gardens, my love and I did meet.

She passed the salley gardens with little, snow-white feet.

She bid me take life easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.


In a field by a river, my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish and now am full of tears.


A Little Poetry—Yeats presented “Down by the Salley Gardens” (originally titled “An Old Song Resung”) as “an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman.”

The word ‘salley’ suggests a garden of weeping willow trees. A ‘weir’ is a dam built across a river to control water levels.

A Little Music—In 1909, Hubert Hughs set Yeat’s poem to the wistful air “The Maids of the Mourne Shore.” You can listen to Roisin Reilly sing it on YouTube. <>

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian). Lilly Martin Spenser. 1869.


Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

Thomas Moore, 1808


Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,

Which I gaze on so fondly today,

Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,

Like fairy wings fading away,

Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,

Let thy loveliness fade as it will;

And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart

Would entwine itself verdantly still.


It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,

And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,

That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,

To which time will but make thee more dear.

No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,

But as truly loves on to the close:

As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets

The same look which she turned when he rose.


“Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” was a popular song in early nineteenth-century Ireland and America, written by Thomas Moore to a traditional Irish air in 1808. According to story, Moore wrote the song for his wife Bessy after she was disfigured by smallpox. Believing that he could no longer love her, Bessy kept herself locked in her room and would not let her husband see her. Moore wrote the lyrics of this song to assure his wife of the constancy of his love. Hearing him singing the song outside the bedroom door, Bessy finally let her husband in and fell into his arms, her confidence restored.

You can listen to Joni James sing the song at YouTube. <>

A Red, Red Rose

My Sweet Rose. John William Waterhouse. 1908.


A Red, Red Rose

Robert Burns


O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June.

O, my luve’s like the melodie,

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.


As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

Soo deep in luve am I,

And I will luve thee still, my Dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.


Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!

O I will luve thee still, my Dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.


And fare thee weel, my only Luve,

And fare thee weel a while!

And I will come again, my Luve,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!

Sweet and Low

Moonbeams. Jessie Willcox Smith.


Sweet and Low

Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1847


Sweet and low, sweet and low,

Wind of the western sea,

   Low, low, breathe and blow,

Wind of the western sea!

   Over the rolling waters go,

Come from the dying moon, and blow.

Blow him again to me;

While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.


Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,

Father will come to thee soon;

   Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,

Father will come to thee soon;

   Father will come to his babe in the nest,

Silver sails all out of the west

Under the silver moon:

Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.