As I was a-walking one midsummer morning,
A-viewing the meadows and to take the air,
'Twas down by the banks of the sweet primeroses,
When I beheld a most lovely Fair.
With three long steps I stepp'd up to her,
Not knowing her as she pass'd me by;
I stepp'd up to her, thinking to view her,
She appear'd to me like some virgin bride.
I said: Pretty maid, how far are you going?
And what's the occasion of all your grief?
I'll make you as happy as any lady,
If you will grant me one small relief.
Stand off, stand off, you are deceitful;
You are deceitful, young man, 'tis plain -
'Tis you that have caused my poor heart to wander,
To give me comfort 'tis all in vain;
I'll take thee down to some lonesome valley,
Where no man nor mortal shall ever me tell;
Where the pretty little small birds do change their voices
And every moment their notes do swell.
Come all you young men than go a-courting,
Pray give attention to what I say,
There's many a dark and a cloudy morning
Turns out to be a sunshiny day.
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Source: Sharp, C (ed), 1916, One Hundred English Folksongs, Boston, Oliver Ditson Co.
"Primeroses" is pronounced as "prim√?¬©roses" (prim-er-roses).
Cecil Sharp's notes follow:
This is one of the most common of English folksongs. The words are on broadsides by Barraclough of Nuneaton and others. Variants of the tune are given in Barrett's English Folk Songs (No 46), and in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society (volume i, p 21). In the version of the tune given here the rhythm is quite regular, differing in that particular from all the other forms of the air that I know. Barrett, in a footnote, states: "This song is usually sung without any attempt to emphasise the rhythm."
The words have been compiled from those supplied to me by several singers.
Roud: 586 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six