Page:One Hundred English Folksongs (1916).djvu/31
NOTES ON THE SONGS
See also “William and Nancy’s parting,” in Garret’s Newcastle Garlands (volume ii).
The tune, a remarkably fine one, is in the Æolian mode, and was sung to me by a woman, seventy-four years of age.
No. 31. Sweet Kitty
The tune, which is in the Dorian mode, was used in Mr. Granville Barker’s production of Hardy’s “Dynasts,” being set to the words, “My Love’s gone a-fighting.” The words, which are related to those of “Brimbledon Fair” (No. 75), have been compiled from several versions that I have collected.
No. 32. The Crystal Spring
I have no variants of this song, nor have I been able to find it on ballad-sheets or in any published collection. I believe the tune to be a genuine folk-melody, though the sequence in the first phrase is unusual. On the other hand, the middle cadence on the third degree of the scale (thus avoiding a dominant modulation) is very characteristic of the folk-tune proper.
No. 33. The Seeds of Love
This song, which is known to the peasant-folk all over England, is a modernized version of “The Sprig of Thyme,” the next number in this collection. According to Whittaker’s History of the Parish of Whalley, the words were written by a Mrs. Fleetwood Habergam, circa 1689, who, “undone by the extravagance, and disgraced by the vices of her husband,” soothed her sorrows by writing of her woes in the symbolism of flowers. But this, of course, is merely a case of “intrusion.”
Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time), who suggests that Mrs. Habergam’s lines were originally sung to the tune of “Come open the door, sweet Betty,” prints a traditional tune noted down by Sir George Macfarren.
The tune printed in the text, with its octave in the penultimate phrase, is an example of a certain type of English folk-air.
No. 34. The Sprig of Thyme
Although this and the preceding song probably spring from the same root, it is, I think, quite possible to distinguish them, both tunes and words. “The Sprig of Thyme” is, I imagine, the older of the two. Its tone is usually modal, very sad and intense, and somewhat rugged and forceful in character; while its words are abstract and reflective, and sometimes obscure. On the other hand, the words of “The Seeds of Love,” although symbolical, are quite clear in their meaning; they are more modern in their diction, and are usually sung to a bright, flowing melody, generally in the major mode.
For other versions with words, see the Journal of the Folk-Song Society (volume ii, p. 288); Folk Songs from Dorset (p. 10); and Songs of the West (No. 7, 2d ed.).
The words in the text are those that the singer sang me, supplemented from those of other sets in my collection. I used the tune, which is in the Æolian mode, for the “Still music” in Mr. Granville Barker’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act iv, Sc. 1).
No. 35. The Cuckoo
I have taken down fifteen different versions of this song, but the tune given in the text is the only one that is modal (Æolian). This particular tune is usually associated with the words of “High Germany.” Halliwell, in his Nursery Rhymes (p. 99), prints a couple of verses in dialect, as follows:
The cuckoo’s a vine bird,
A zengs as a vlies;
A brengs us good tidin’s.
And tells us no lies.