The Banks of Green Willow

Rod Stradling: On Autumn Harvest ah007: Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: Grand to Be a Working Man. Recorded at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2009.

This ballad is in FJ Child's collection under the title Bonnie Annie (Child 24) although Banks of Green Willow seems to be the most common traditional form. The earliest version was collected from northeast Scottish tradition and in included by George Kinloch in his Ancient Scottish Ballads of 1827. This version has been put together by Rod from texts in Child and a tune said to be from David Clements of Basingstoke, Hants, as collected by Vaughan Williams in 1909 and as in Bronson's Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads.

1: It's of a sea captain,
Come o'er the salt sea billow;
And he has courted a fair maid,
By the banks of green willow;
And he has courted this fair maid,
Till she was with child O.

2: Crying, "Oh me love what shall I do,
What will become of me;
For me father an me mother
They both will disown me?"

3: "Well, get to me your father's gold,
And some of your mother's money;
And you can go sailing over the ocean,
Along with your Johnny."

4: So she's got her father's gold,
And some of her mother's money;
And they have put foot on board of shipping,
Both her and her Johnny.

5:Now they'd not been a-sailing,
Not six weeks nor so many;
Before the sails though being outspread,
Miles they'd made not any.

6:They'd not been kept there,
Not six hours nor so many;
Before she was wanting women's help,
And could not get any.

7: "Well, it's hold your tongue you foolish girl,
Oh, hold your tongue my Annie;
You cannot get no women's help,
Neither for love nor for money.

8: And then a great storm it came upon them,
Miles they've made not any;
And she was delivered,
Of a beautiful baby.

9: But the seas they rose above them,
And the winds roared like thunder;
But still the sails would not fill,
And it's caused them to wonder.

10: "For there's fey folk on me gallant ship,"
The captain, he cries, so boldly;
"Or there is craft work on me gallant ship,
She will not sail for me."
11: And he's cast those black bullets,
Cast them twice six and forty;
And all those black bullets,
Fell on his dear Annie.

12: "Oh captain, dearest captain,
Here is fifty pound for thee;
If you would convoy me back home again,
Both me and my baby."

13: "Oh no," replies the captain,
"See the storm, it is agin me;
And it would be better to lose two lives,
Than it would to lose so many."

14: So he's tied a kerchief round her head,
Tied it soft and easy;
And he has thrown her right overboard,
Both her and her baby.

15: See how my love she do swim me boys,
See how my love don't taver;
See how me love do swim me boys,
Don't it make my heart quaver;
For she might never cease her swimming;
Till the banks of green willow.

16: But then the storm it did abate,
And the tide began a-flowing;
And the sails they did fill at last,
With a landward breeze blowing.

17: So they have steered for the land,
And at length reached the shore O;
But the corpse of fair Annie,
Had got there before O.

18: "Let the bells be rung so mournful,
As well befits a lady;
And 'tis here she shall be buried,
Both her and her baby."

19: "And I will buy my love a coffin,
Of the gold that shines so yellow;
And it's here she shall be buried,
On the banks of green willow."

c p 2009 Autumn Harvest :