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If ever I get married 'twill be in the month of June,
When the trees are in full blossom and the flowers are in full bloom;
Where my love and I sat courting on the banks all alone,
All alone on the banks of the roses.
On the banks of the roses where my love and I sat down,
I took out my charming flute and played my love a tune;
In the middle of the tune she smiled and said:
"Oh Jimmy, lovely Jimmy, do not leave me!"
"Oh Nancy, lovely Nancy, I heard your parents say
They would rather see their daughter dear lying in cold clay;
They would rather see their daughter dear lying in cold clay,
Than a cold heart like mine to enjoy her."
"Oh Jimmy, lovely Jimmy, don't mind what they say,
As I'm the youngest daughter, my fortune it is gay;
The riches in this wide world for you I will forsake,
You're my darling on the banks of the roses."
Collected in 1952 from Kenneth Monks of King's Cove, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.497-498, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that a similar variant appears in Irish Street Ballads, p.158, collected by Colm O Lochlainn, whose mother had learned it from her father who was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1819. Another quite different Newfoundland version called The Banks Of The Dizzy was sung in 1929 by Tom White of Sandy Cove, and published in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968). Sometimes Jimmy (or Johnny) plays on his fiddle rather than on his flute, but in either case the symbolism is obvious.
The YouTube video above features a recording titled Banks Of The Roses by Harry Hibbs (A Fifth Of Harry Hibbs, trk#11, 1971, Arc Sound Ltd., Toronto, Ontario. In 2002 a digitally remastered CD was released by Unidisc Studios, Montreal, by Robert Matichak).
See more songs by Harry Hibbs.