Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wildwood Flower

RoseLilyMyrtleAmaryllisHyssop

Herewith two versions of the great American folk song, Wildwood Flower:

The Carter Family
A crosspicking instrumental

The lyrics to Wildwood Flower are hotly contested and subject to divergent interpretations. Here is one version with several departures from the Carter Family's lyrics:
Oh, I'll twine with my mingles of raven black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the myrtle so bright with the emerald hue
The pale emanita and hyssop so blue

Oh, I'll dance, I will sing and my laugh shall be gay
I will charm every heart, in his crown I will sway
When I woke from my dreaming, my idol was clay
All portion of love had all flown away

Oh, he taught me to love him and promised to love
And to cherish me over all others above
How my heart is now wondering no misery can tell
He left me no warning, no words of farewell

Oh, he taught me to love him and called me his flower
That was blooming to cheer him through life's dreary hour
Oh, I long to see him and regret the dark hour
He's gone and neglected his pale wildwood flower
Emanita, the flower mentioned in the fourth line of the initial verse, refers to no known flower. Two alternative renderings of that word, amaleder and aronatus, also fail to identify a specific plant. Perhaps amaryllis is what the original lyricist intended.

Finally, here is audio commentary from National Public Radio's list of the 20th century's 100 most important recordings of American music:

National Public Radio
Dick Spottswood, a former record producer and current radio host at WAMU in Washington, D.C, recounts the history of Wildwood Flower. The song, like many recorded by the country music group The Carter Family, was passed down from generation-to-generation, without the benefit of written lyrics. Though its words are peculiar, its melody has kept the song popular and it has been recorded by many artists over the years.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Ralph said...

I would suggest that "emanita" is actually "Amanita" - a pale and poisonous mushroom.

Ralph E. Taggart

9/12/2008 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Leslie Slape said...

Why would any girl put a mushroom, poisonous or otherwise, in her hair?

10/07/2008 6:02 PM  

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