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Traditional Irish  

Down by the Sally Gardens

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Down by the Salley Gardens (Irish: Gort na Saileán) is a poem by William Butler Yeats published in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in 1889. Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself."[1] The "old song" may have been the ballad "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure".[2] Yeats's original title, "An Old Song Re-Sung", reflected this; it first appeared under its present title when it was reprinted in Poems in 1895.[3] The verse was subsequently set to music by Herbert Hughes to the air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. In the 1920s composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) set the text to music.[4] There is also a vocal setting by the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, which was published in 1938; and another by Benjamin Britten published in 1943. The composer John Ireland earlier set the words to an original melody in his cycle "Songs Sacred and Profane', written in 1934.

"Salley" is an anglicisation of the Irish saileach, meaning willow, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. Willows are known as "salleys", "sallies" or "salley trees" in parts of Ireland.[5]



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 love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.
In a field by the 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.


The song has been part of the repertoire of many singers and groups. Notable recordings include:

(Judith Owen) who performed the song as part of Richard Thompson's "1000 Years of Popular Music" in a live DVD (2008)

See also


  1. ^ Quoted in M.H Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt eds., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. p. 2024.
  2. ^ Wilgus, D.K. (Apr. - Jun., 1979). ""Rose Connoley": An Irish Ballad". The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 92 (364): 172–195. 
  3. ^ Ford, Robert, W.B.Yeats: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 69
  4. ^ Jezic, D. P. (1988). Women composers: The lost tradition found (2nd ed., pp. 157-162). New York: The Feminist Press.
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Down_by_the_Salley_Gardens". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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