From Crossways


In this poem Yeats reconstructed a folk song he had heard from an old lady in Ballisodare ( Co Sligo ) as a child. He apparently wrote the poem from the first three lines of the song which he remembered imperfectly. The poem was set to music in 1909 by Herbert Hughes who used the traditional tune of The Maids of the Mourne Shore.  The original song the poet remembered may have been a ballad called The Rambling Boys of Pleasure. There are many versions of Down by the Salley Gardens and sometimes the lyrics are a mixure of the original song and the poem.

 The poem by WB Yeats

   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.


Extract from The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, the song which quite likely inspired the poet. The first verse contains many similarities indeed.


"It was down by Sally's Garden one evening late I took my way.

'Twas there I spied this pretty little girl, and those words to me sure she did say.

She advised me to take love easy, as the leaves grew on the tree.

But I was young and foolish, with my darling could not agree."


Words for Music Surely (3).mp3


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