Down by the Sally Gardens

Sally Gardens Cover

This is a collection of Irish, Scottish and English folk songs. Music Publisher Van Teeseling has published the book under number VT347. Four arrangements are included: Down by the Sally Gardens, Ye Banks and Braes, Down by the Willow Garden and I gave my Love a Cherry.

Down by the Sally Gardens started its life as a solo arrangement for guitar. I made this arrangement for the goodbye party of my Scottish colleague Sheelagh Malone (No, she's not related to the well-known Molly Malone from the folk song Cockles and Mussels). The theme lingered in a corner of my mind after a far from successful project with a singer: the setting of the song for piano and voice by Benjamin Britten and re-arranged for two guitars and voice.

Down by the Sally Gardens is an Irish song, the lyrics were written by the poet William Butler Yeats. The (sad) but very true text of the song is:

Down by the Sally Gardens, my Love and I did meet,
She passed the Sally 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 I 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 to take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs,
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Yeats based the poem on an Iris traditional, its deeper meaning is subject to quite a few interpretations. The obvious interpretation is that love should not be hasty. Another interesting interpretation that I found on the Internet explains that the poem reflects the relation between the poet and his muse, his subconscious archetype. Due to passion and hurry he forgets about her advice to take things easy and loses his inspiration in restlessness.

The solo arrangement for guitar is 'framed' by the flute solo with guitar accompaniment.

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