Wildwood Flower

This is a nineteenth-century American song that, though probably an art or parlor song in origin, has been thoroughly naturalized as a folk song; its variants seem almost Barbara Allen-like in their number. According to Rod Smith's online encyclopedia, Wildwood Flower was "written in 1888 by Maud Irving and J.P. Weber, and popularized by the Carter Family (the original title was "I'll Twine 'Mid the Ringlets")." However, I have only Smith's say-so (citing Faith Petric) to prove the assertions. I think I first learned it from a Joan Baez recording, but comparison of this version with Baez's will show that my version has other sources as well, including lucky guesses (I came up with "emerald hue", where all my sources had "emerald dew", before I read that that had in fact been the original wording; on the other hand I have — apparently following Baez — "amaryllis" where my other sources have "emanita" and the original supposedly was "aronatus"...) I have posted it here to facilitate comparison with Woody Guthrie's The Sinking of the Reuben James, which utilizes a variant of the tune (the main difference lying in Woody's addition of a refrain).
(Click here for The Sinking of the Reuben James)
The tune and text of Wildwood Flower are both in the public domain.

I will twine, I will mingle my raven black hair
with the roses so red and the lilies so fair,

the myrtle so bright in its emerald hue,
and the pale amaryllis, and violets so blue.

Oh, he promised to love me, he promised to love
and to cherish me always all others above.

I woke from my dream and my idol was clay,
And my portion of loving had all passed away.

I will dance, I will sing, and my life shall be gay
I will charm every heart in the crowd I survey.

Though my heart now is breaking, he shall never know
How his name makes me tremble, my pale cheeks to glow.

Oh, he taught me to love him; he called me his flower,
and a blossom to cheer him through life's weary hour

but now he is gone and left me alone
with the wild flowers to weep, and the wild birds to moan.

Yes, I'll dance and I'll sing and my life shall be gay:
I will banish this weeping, drive troubles away.

I'll live yet to see him regret that dark hour
When he won, then neglected, his frail wildwood flower!

Click for MIDI

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