SONG: "Bushes and Briers" – Essex, England
The very first time I encountered this Folksong was in a novel called "The Piper on the Mountain",
(© 1966) by the historian-novelist Edith Pargeter (1913-1995), who wrote this book, and others,
as well as the Cadfael series, under the name of Ellis Peters. I usually meet the music first,
and then go looking for the words. This time, the words intrigued me, and I went looking for the music.
The song "Bushes and Briers" was 'collected' by Ralph Vaughan Williams at Ingrave, Essex, on
4th December, 1903, from the singing of Mr Charles Pottipher, a seventy-year-old labourer.
"Vaughan Williams had been specifically invited by the local Vicar's daughters to attend an
old people's tea-party their father was giving, so that he could meet some real traditional
singers. In fact, he only noted the first verse of Bushes and Briars from Mr. Pottipher,
being then new to song-collecting, and later got the rest of the words from a broadside
published by Fortey of Seven Dials." (from the Mudcat thread, below)
The Essex version is perhaps the best known because of its inclusion in the film of Thomas
Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd". (Mudcat thread)
For more info, and two versions of the melody (follow the links), go to:
http://www.mudcat.org and SEARCH for 'Bushes and Briers'
e.g. on the following threads:
Mudcat thread 40546
Mudcat thread 24409
The tune for "Bushes and Briars", in the Hypoaeolian Mode,
appears on Page 61 of:
"Folksongs for the Violin", Part 3: Third Position, Modes, and Pentatones
(A Graded Selection of Melodies for Beginners of All Ages).
Details on the
This is the oldest version of the words, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford:
Harding B 11(498) (J.Catnach, Printer, 2,&3. Monmouth-court, 7 Dials. - between 1813 and 1838)
Bushes and Briers
Through Bushes and through briers,
I lately took my way,
All for to hear the small birds sing,
And the lambs to skip and play.
I overheard my own true-love,
Her voice it was so clear,
Long time I have been waiting,
For the coming of my dear.
I drew myself to a tree,
A tree that did look green,
Where the leaves shaded over us,
We scarcely could be seen
I sat myself down by my love,
Till she began to mourn,
I am of this opinion,
That my heart is not my own.
Sometimes I am uneasy,|
And troubled in my mind,
Sometimes I'll think I'll go to my love
And tell to him my mind;
And if I should go to my love,
My love he will say nay,
I will show to him my boldness,
He'd ne'er love me again.
I cannot think the reason,
Young women love young men,
For they are so false-hearted,
Young women to trepan░,
For they are so false-hearted,
Young women to trepan,
The green grave shall ease me
If I can't have that man.░░
░(trepan▓, v.t. (-nn-). Trap, ensnare, beguile, (into, from, place etc., into doing,
[17th c., f. earlier trapan a decoy, prob. thieves' sl. f. TRAP╣ ] - Concise Oxford Dictionary.
░░ See the message from 'Q', Date: 22 Nov 03 - 05:38 PM in the Mudcat thread (above), re later versions of the last line.
[The Concise Oxford Dictionary entry for "briar" is: bri'ar. See BRIER.]
Follow the links for all copies of "Bushes and Briers" in the
Bodleian Library allegro Catalogue of Ballads
Display from: bushes and briers
...Show Index...5 bushes and briers [title]...Harding B 11(499)
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