The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4297 Message #4061329
Posted By: Steve Gardham
25-Jun-20 - 11:01 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Flowers and Weeds / Plenty of Thyme
Subject: RE: Origins: Flowers and Weeds / Plenty of Thyme
Yes this mostly lyric piece has always presented difficulties of classification. Whilst it is possible to separate out 2 main streams, one epitomised by 'Seeds of Love' variants and the other by 'Sprig of Thyme' variants, I can sympathise with those like Steve who lump the whole lot together. Even after studying the whole corpus comparatively, particularly the 18th century versions it is still difficult to separate the two, as they do have stanzas in common. Somebody with the patience of Bob Waltz might be able to separate them out.
The pieces are obviously at least as old as the early 18th century and they have been rewritten for the broadside press many times, the appeal being the mildly clever allegories involved.
The 'Seeds of Love' variants could be said to make up a more autonomous collection as their sets of stanzas are more stable, the longest probably being the Pitts version, whereas 'Sprig of Thyme' variants of the late 18th century vary enormously. Check out 'The Encouraging Gardener' on the Bodl site (c1770). Odd stanzas turn up in all sorts of combinations of the same period.
If I think 2 ballads need separate Roud numbers I normally fight my corner very strongly (e.g. The Died for Love' separations) but on this one I'm happy for now to leave them as collectively Roud 3.