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What is 'Green Willow'

DigiTrad:
BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW
BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW
BANKS OF YARROW (4)
BANKS OF YARROW (4)
BONNIE ANNIE
BONNIE ANNIE
THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW (2)
THE BANKS OF GREEN WILLOW (2)


Related threads:
Banks of Green Willow - Cyril Tawney (12)
Lyr Add: Bonnie Annie (Child 24) (14)
Lyr Req: The Green Willow (P Farrell) (5)
Chord Req: Banks of Green Willow (44)
Lyr Add: A Ballad of the Green Willow (Heywood) (3)
(origins) Penguin: Banks Of Green Willow (39)
The Green Banks of Yarrow (7)
Lyr Req: Banks of Green Willow (from Butterworth) (3)
Banks of Green Willow (8)


23 Nov 98 - 12:15 PM
Pete M 23 Nov 98 - 02:58 PM
Jerry Friedman 23 Nov 98 - 03:47 PM
Bruce O. 23 Nov 98 - 04:06 PM
Barry Finn 23 Nov 98 - 04:36 PM
SteveF 24 Nov 98 - 08:09 AM
Alan of Australia 24 Nov 98 - 08:46 AM
Bruce O. 24 Nov 98 - 01:20 PM
DonMeixner 25 Nov 98 - 08:10 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Nov 98 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,bizoregon@msn.com 12 May 02 - 09:51 PM
CapriUni 12 May 02 - 11:54 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 May 02 - 01:05 AM
CapriUni 13 May 02 - 01:15 AM
Desert Dancer 13 May 02 - 01:38 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 May 02 - 02:06 AM
Dead Horse 13 May 02 - 02:17 AM
Dave Bryant 13 May 02 - 04:56 AM
Nigel Parsons 13 May 02 - 05:29 AM
Peg 13 May 02 - 11:02 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 May 02 - 12:07 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 May 02 - 12:10 PM
Peg 13 May 02 - 03:24 PM
Mr Red 13 May 02 - 05:26 PM
Ditchdweller 14 May 02 - 02:32 PM
greg stephens 14 May 02 - 03:57 PM
Mr Red 14 May 02 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,paul hawkins 21 Jan 03 - 01:07 PM
Cluin 21 Jan 03 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Guest 21 Jan 03 - 03:11 PM
mack/misophist 22 Jan 03 - 01:04 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 Jan 03 - 06:03 AM
JennyO 22 Jan 03 - 06:53 AM
Cluin 22 Jan 03 - 10:40 PM
GUEST,Jedediah of Salem 22 Jan 03 - 10:52 PM
JennyO 23 Jan 03 - 04:14 AM
winterchild 23 Jan 03 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,James 11 Nov 03 - 11:48 PM
LadyJean 12 Nov 03 - 12:39 AM
Peg 12 Nov 03 - 12:51 AM
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Subject: What is
From:
Date: 23 Nov 98 - 12:15 PM

Can anyone tell me the significance of green willow, which is mentioned so often in traditional songs?
Also, thyme and rue - more than salad herbs, right?

Thanks.
Click for Ballad of Green Willow


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Pete M
Date: 23 Nov 98 - 02:58 PM

Well anon, it all depends - you didn't expect a definitive answer at a folk site did you?

probably the best known "language of flowers" song is "Let no man steal your thyme". My understanding of the symbolism here is:

Thyme - time in the sense of opportunities available in the present.

Lily - purity, chastity Violet - modesty Pink - Romantic love Red rose - passionate love ie sex Rue - rue, repentence Willow - sorrow, dispair

On the other hand Green willow in other songs especially those concerning blacksmiths, is more likely to be symbolic of fertility, cf the willow's ability to grow from a bare stick.

Of course the Victorian's went completely overboard on this and had meanings for just about anything that grew. Not too much relevance to folk song, but if you are interested there is a site here that gives meanings from various Victorian treatise on etiquete.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 23 Nov 98 - 03:47 PM

Maybe because of weeping willow, willows often seem to be associated with sadness, as Pete says--for example, in "All Around my Hat" and Desdemona's song in Othello.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Bruce O.
Date: 23 Nov 98 - 04:06 PM

Green willow signified lost love, or being forsaken by a false lover. In Ault's 'Elizabethan Lyrics' is a song or poem about it, five verses, by John Heywood, c 1545 entitled:

All a green willow, willow, willow
All a green willow is my garland.

John Cutts printed a fuller manuscript version of the willow song in Shakespeare's 'Othell' in Journal of the American Musicological Society X, #1 (Spring) 1957. Another version expanded version is on a broadside ballad, ZN2222, in my broadside ballad index. Other songs using the green willow motif as can be found in the broadside ballad index by searching on 'willow'. Burl Ives used to sing one, "How now shepherd what means that, Why wearst willow in thy hat".

From "A Nosegay always sweet" in 'A Handefull of Pleasant Delites', 1584:

Sage is for sustenance..
Rosemary is for remembrance...
Thyme is to try me...
Marigold is for marriage..
+ others

In "Love in a Maze", ZN1606:

She stuck the bush of May in the Time and did present it
Unto this young man, which was so discontented....

This May stuck in Time which is to me presenting
Shews that I may, in time gain your love with sweet consenting.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Barry Finn
Date: 23 Nov 98 - 04:36 PM

Twanky Dillo, twanky dillo, twanky dillo, dillo, dillo, dillo
And he played on his merry bagpipes made from the green willow
Green willow, green willow, green willow, willow, willow willow

From the Copper Family


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Subject: RE: What is
From: SteveF
Date: 24 Nov 98 - 08:09 AM

To Pete M:

I checked out the site you recommended, "The Language of Flowers." Wow! A Victorian lady needed to be a trained botanist to interpret her FTD bouquet correctly... Six different varieties of willow -- misidentify the type, and you have mistaken "forsaken love" for "bravery." Note the symbolic message of the Venus fly-trap: "Caught at last." Thanks for the link. -- Steve F.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 24 Nov 98 - 08:46 AM

G'day,

Pete M,
I think in "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" the real meanings of thyme and rue are a bit more indelicate than that. Close though.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Nov 98 - 01:20 PM

The indelicate meaning of the maid's garden of thyme appears in the early version of "The Gardener Lad" in the Scarce Songs 1 file on my website. www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: What is
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Nov 98 - 08:10 AM

In an old mid winter carol, Mary punishes Jesus for walkong across the water to retrieve a ball and there by allowing everyone to see one of his famous miracles. She swats with a willow withe, through his tears he cries.

" Oh cused be to the cruel withy, which causes me to smart, For you shall be the only tree to perish right from the heart."

Guilt and biblical ruin by association saddly. Otherwise not an evil tree really. Not like the vile Box Elder or those Godless Russian Olives.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: What is
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Nov 98 - 01:21 PM

Bitter Withy can be found (surprise!) in the DT database.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: GUEST,bizoregon@msn.com
Date: 12 May 02 - 09:51 PM

Looking for Jooan Baez's lyrics to Let no man steal you thyme Slightly changed from the original. Do you have it? I've written a book caled RESALE QUEEN and need the exact version because one of the characters sings it. Thanks, Deni Kallman


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Subject: RE: What is
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 May 02 - 11:54 PM

As I understand it, you'd give someone a sprig of green willow as a sign that their love for you was unrequited.

I think the symbolism comes from the fact that a branch of green willow will take root so easily -- signifying the hope that the recipient will "spring back" from the rejection. Willow branches are also very strong and flexible (which is why garden furniture is often made from it), which is a quality you need to survive heartbreak.

As to the legendary power of the willow to be "born again", there is a story in my family that the massive willow tree that grew in front of the house where my father spent his summer grew from a switch someone had cut as a temporary riding crop. ...The gentleman stuck it in the ground when he got there, and forgot about it.

And I seem to remember reading in Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend that Thyme symbolized strength, and virginity. It's this last meaning that comes through loud and clear in the song In My Garden Grew Plenty of Thyme.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 02 - 01:05 AM

Pete M, thanks for the site. Most useful is the Greenway list of 1885, one familiar to many at the time. Botany was a popular hobby. I have two large leather bound albums, each sheet bearing a species of fern, all properly labeled with the name current at the time of collection, about 1870. These plants were collected and identified by upper class English women who studied botany as a hobby (they could not engage in scientific activity professionally).
Green willow has to be one of the species native to Britain, but I have no idea which species of Salix it is. Any botanically minded Britons reading this?
The weeping willow, Salix babylonica, came originally from China. Other, smaller willows may have a weeping form. There are a large number of species.
The herb-willow on the list is not a willow, but a perennial which dies down in winter, with pink flowers, often called fireweed in Canada and the United States. It grows in all countries of the northern part of the northern hemisphere.

These floral lists are a window on one of the activities of upper class Victorian ladies. They were not permitted membership in the learned societies; they did not go out and make discoveries, but they privately studied aspects of natural history, especially botany. Some rather astounding diaries and collections were put together by these women. Beatrix Potter, who wrote the Peter Rabbit stories, made some original botanical studies of fungi which she could not present.

"Withy" was applied to several willows, especially the osier willow and others which are flexible.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 May 02 - 01:15 AM

Could "Green" willow refer to the general conditon of the plant / cutting (as in 'green' wood -- which had not yet been dried) rather than the species?

That was my assumption, anyway..


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 May 02 - 01:38 AM

Check the dates folks, and notice that what's current is bizoregon's Baez lyric request... any answers?

:-)


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 02 - 02:06 AM

"Exact" Joan Baez version required. Suggest that it be obtained from Joan Baez and/or copyright holder, since use in a publication must be OK'ed.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dead Horse
Date: 13 May 02 - 02:17 AM

The *bagpipes* made from green willow were bellows for fanning the blacksmiths fire. (just in case anybody thought it was a Scots smithy, hammering awa'in his kilt....)


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 13 May 02 - 04:56 AM

Don Meixner
In the ballad "Bitter Withy", the reason for Mary's anger is not just that he shows off, but that he causes the death of the upper-class neighbours' children. The young Jesus doesn't just walk on the water - he builds "a bridge with the beams of the sun" and after running over it causes it to collapse as his antagonists are following him. It's a similiar trick to the one which his dad pulled with the crossing of the red sea, incidently.

I'm pretty sure that the sadness associated with the willow is the way the "weeping" variety droops droops forlornly. The fact that the willow is supposed to rot from the heart, also strengthens the link to deceitfulness.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 13 May 02 - 05:29 AM

Don Meixner: for "Evil plants" don't forget Mistletoe.
The only plant which did not swear an oath not to harm Balder, the son of Odin.
Balder was eventually slain with an arrow made of mistletoe.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Peg
Date: 13 May 02 - 11:02 AM

Does anyone have the full lyric text for that Heywood song? (All a green willow is my garland) I saw a snippet of it in a book and started writing a tune for it but can't find a complete text anywhere... thanks!


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 02 - 12:07 PM

Found the John Heywood Green Willow at first pass with "All a green willow" in Google. The website is http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/heywood2.html.
I will attempt a clickie: Heywood


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 02 - 12:10 PM

Peg, on that website scroll down to the 4th poem, "A Ballad of the Green Willow."
"A Rose and a Nettle," the 1st poem, also has some bearing to this thread.


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Subject: RE: What is
From: Peg
Date: 13 May 02 - 03:24 PM

thanks Dicho! Looks like a great site. And thank you for starting the other hread with this lyric.

Peg


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Mr Red
Date: 13 May 02 - 05:26 PM

In Ireland, I am told, the concept of a Green Ribbon (all around my hat) crops-up lyrically. The ribbon may have had two purposes, one as an unfading alternatve to Green Willow, and the other a political statement. And if the departed lover was forceably removed the two statements would both apply, severally and together.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Ditchdweller
Date: 14 May 02 - 02:32 PM

Bodgers (A skilled craft, not to be confused with Botchers who make a total dog's arse of things) will, using a "pole lathe", usually turn chairlegs from green wood such as ash or willow as it turns better than seasoned timber. So in Twankey Dillo the bagpipes may have been an instrument with the drones and chanter made from green willow.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 May 02 - 03:57 PM

They not only look lovely while rotten at the heart, they are notorious for dropping branches without warning and killing you. Definitely appropriate to be associated with misery and loss.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 May 02 - 04:41 PM

Roaring pair of bagpipes - two bagpipes is definitely cause for misery **BG***
Willow is very springy so it was used as the return spring on the bellows, which probably made a wheezing noise not unlike parody of bagpipes.
For chapter and verse we could always summon the help of Mrs Lemon - why? because as has been pointed out, genus salix - hence it's nickname Sally. Now Mr Lemon, as it happens, makes living willow sculptures for gardens and schools, (available for bamitzfas). AND Mrs lemon's real name? Sally. Call me a completeist but I regard that as neat and tidy!
BTW FWIW they both make real lemonade and will both be out in force a week on Sat for the Bishops castle Folk w/e see mrslemon.co.uk (what else?)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: GUEST,paul hawkins
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:07 PM

Freshly cut willow is used to make furniture. It is cut to lenth, bent to shape and the joints are bound or nailed together.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:19 PM

Some new-agey dodgy-wodgy feminawicca stuff about willow.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 03:11 PM

I've always thought the Willow stands for death itself. In Taliesin's Cad Goddeu/The Battle of Trees it is mentioned as 'slow in array'. Even in Tolkien's traditions, the bad willow almost puts and end to the hobbits' expeditions right even before it had started, had it been for Bombadill's prompt reaction.

When the trees were enchanted
There was hope for the trees,
That they should frustrate the intention
Of the surrounding fires....
Better are three in unison,
And enjoying themselves in, a circle,
And one of them relating
The story of the deluge,
And of the cross of Christ,
And of the Day of judgement near at hand.
The alder-trees in the first line,
They made the commencement.
Willow and quicken tree,
They were slow in their array.
The plum is a tree
Not beloved of men;
The medlar of a like nature,
Over coming severe toil.
The bean bearing in its shade
And army of phantoms.
The raspberry makes
Not the best of food.
In shelter live,
The privet and the woodbine,
And the ivy in its season.
Great is the gorse in battle.
The cherry-tree had been reproached.
The birch, though very magnanimous,
Was late in arraying himself;
It was not through cowardice,
But on account of his great size.
The appearance of the ...
Is that of a foreigner and a savage.
The pine-tree in the court,
Strong in battle,
By me greatly exalted
In the presence of kings,
The elm-trees are his subjects.
He turns not aside the measure of a foot,
But strikes right in the middle,
And at the farthest end.
The hazel is the judge,
His berries are thy dowry.
The privet is blessed.
Strong chiefs in war
And the ... and the mulberry.
Prosperous the beech-tree.
The holly dark green,
He was very courageous:
Defended with spikes on every side,
Wounding the hands.
The long-enduring poplars
Very much broken in fight.
The plundered fern;
The brooms with their offspring:
The furze was not well behaved
Until he was tamed
The heath was giving consolation,
Comforting the people -
The black cherry-tree was pursuing.
The oak-tree swiftly moving,
Before him tremble heaven and earth,
Stout doorkeeper against the foe
Is his name in all lands.
The corn-cockle bound together,
Was given to be burnt.
Others were rejected
On account of the holes made
By great violence
In the field of battle.
Very wrathful the ...
Cruel the gloomy ash.
Bashful the chestnut-tree,
Retreating from happiness.
There shall be a black darkness,
There shall be a shaking of the mountain,
There shall be a purifying furnace,
There shall first be a great wave,
And when the shout shall be heard,
Putting forth new leaves are the tops of the beech,
Changing form and being renewed from a withered state;
Entangled are the tops of the oak.
From the Gorchan of Maelderw.
Smiling at the side of the rock
(Was) the pear-tree not of an ardent nature.
Neither of mother or father,
When I was made,
Was my blood or body;
Of nine kinds of faculties,
Of fruit of fruits,
Of fruit God made me,
Of the blossom of the mountain primrose,
Of the buds of trees and shrubs,
Of earth of earthly kind.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: mack/misophist
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 01:04 AM

The old people I used to know said that thyme is for remembrance and rue for regret. I never heard a reason why. The cultural mix was more of less Irish and German, with a fesw French.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 06:03 AM

"Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary" gives:
rue a strong smelling shrubby Mediterranean plant......greenish-yellow flowers, punningly (see next entry) symbolic of repentance, compunction, or compassion."

Nigel


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: JennyO
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 06:53 AM

I like the look of that website, Cluin. My kinda stuff!

Jenny


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 10:40 PM

Mine too, Jenny. Shhhhhhhh... don't tell anyone.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: GUEST,Jedediah of Salem
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 10:52 PM

Methinks there are still witches (female) about. Must inform George W. (burning) Bush.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: JennyO
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 04:14 AM

Don't tell me I'm going to get burned at the stake AGAIN!


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: winterchild
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:16 AM

"All the world's a circle", JennyO!

Thanks hawkins or whomever, for reviving this thread; it's fascinating!

WinterC


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: GUEST,James
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 11:48 PM

I was always told that, according to traditional english common law, wearing green willow around your head for a year would free you from serfdom. This kinda seems unlikely, but I was wondering if anyone else had heard anything like this?

James


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: LadyJean
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 12:39 AM

As I remember it is considered unchancy to sleep under a willow. I did so last year, a very large willow too, and I don't seem to have suffered any ill effects. But I would be interested in knowing what was supposed to have happened.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Green Willow'
From: Peg
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 12:51 AM

hmmm. another thought, in terms of the "all around my hat" lyric. Willow is also associated with love. A year and a day was the traditional trial period to determine if a pending marriage was to be binding (mainly because, if the wife did not get pregnant in that time, then pregnancy might never result!) If the couple decided after that period to part ways,there was no stigma attached. hence the expression "greenwood marriage" too...


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