Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie [Child 215]

DESCRIPTION: Willie drowns in the (Yarrow). (Details of how and why vary greatly). His lover dreams a dream of woe. She sets out and finds Willie's body, and uses her hair to pull him from the water. In many accounts she (promises to) die for sorrow
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: death mourning courting drowning
FOUND IN: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber,Bord)) US(MW,So) Canada Ireland
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Child 215, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie" (9 texts)
Bronson 215, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie" (9 versions)
ChambersBallads, pp. 152-153, "Willie's Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text); also pp. 154-155, "The Braes of Yarrow" (a "modern ballad" on this theme by Rev. John Logan)
Dixon XII, pp. 66-67, "The Water o' Gamery" (1 text)
GlenbuchatBallads, pp. 22-24, "The Water of Gamery" (1 text)
Greig #113, pp. 1-2, "Willie's Drowned in Gamerie" (1 text)
GreigDuncan6 1227, "Willie's Lost at Gamery" (3 texts, 1 tune)
AbrahamsRiddle, pp. 124-126, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy 22, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text, 1 tune, erroneously listed as Child 214) {Bronson's #4}
Leach, pp. 571-572, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 99, "The Braes o' Yarrow" (1 text which is mostly Child 214 but incorporates parts of Child 215)
Ord, pp. 454-455, "Willie's Drowned at Gamerie" (1 text)
Fowke/MacMillan 78, "Willie Drowned in Ero" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 229-230, "Willie's Drowned in Gamery" (1 text)
OBB 93, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text)
PBB 62, "Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Peter Buchan, Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland_ (Edinburgh, 1828 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), Vol I, pp. 245-248, 315, "Willie's Drowned in Gamery" (1 text)
W. Christie, editor, Traditional Ballad Airs (Edinburgh, 1876 (downloadable pdf by University of Edinburgh, 2007)), Vol I, pp. 64-65, "Willie's Drowned in Yarrow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; notes to #425, "But think na' ye my heart was sair?" (1 text)

Roud #206
cf. "The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow" [Child 214]
cf. "Susan Strayed on the Briny Beach" [Laws K19] (plot)
cf. "Willie's Drowned in Gamerie" (story)
cf. "Willie Drowned in Yarrow" (story)
Willie's Rare
NOTES [437 words]: Several scholars, among them Norman Cazden, have claimed that this song is the same as Child 214, "The Dowie Dens o Yarrow/The Braes o Yarrow." Certainly there has been exchange of verses. However, I (following Leach), would maintain that there is a difference: "The Dowie Dens" is about opposition to a marriage; "Willie Drowned" is about the loss of a love.
A brief summary of the whole discussion is found in Coffin's notes in Flanders-Ancient3. It's not clear what he believes, except that the two songs are a mess and quite mixed. Which can hardly be denied.
Palgrave's Golden Treasury includes a piece (item CLXIII) titled "The Braes of Yarrow," credited to J. Logan, which is clearly built upon this theme -- but it looks like a literary rewrite. Palgrave's next item (CLXIV), "Willy Drowned in Yarrow," is the real thing, though probably somewhat touched up by his (unnamed) source.
Child lists "Annan Water" as an appendix to this ballad, though it appears to me that, if it's related to any of the Child ballads, it's #216, "The Mother's Malison, or, Clyde's Water." - RBW
Greig: "These two ballads ['Willie's Drowned in Yarrow' from Whitelaw's text, and 'Willie's Drowned in Gamerie' from Buchan's text] have got mixed up to some extent; but they are in the main so different that it is not easy accounting for the connection." And there is also Greig #87 "Willie's Drowned in Gamerie," indexed by that name, of which Greig's correspondent says, "it can have no connection with the 'Willie's Drowned in Gamrie,' as given in Buchan's Ballads of the North, nor yet the Lovers who were drowned in Clyde's Waters.'"
Buchan is Greig's source. Buchan has the story (also quoted by Child): "The unfortunate hero of this ballad, was a factor to the laird of Kinmundy. As the young woman to whom he was to be united in connubial wedlock resided in Gamery, a small fishing town on the east coast of the Murray Frith, the marriage was to be solemnized in the church of that parish, to which he was on his way, when overtaken by some of the heavy breakers which overflow a part of the road he had to pass, and dash, with impetuous fury, against the lofty and adamantine rocks with which it is skirted. The young damsel, in her fifteenth year, also met with a watery grave, being the wages of her mother's malison. This ballad will remind the reader of the Drowned Lovers, who shared the same fate in the river Clyde [see Child 216, 'The Mother's Malison, or Clyde's Water']."
Re Greig's comment above, compare Buchan's text to Whitelaw-Song, p. 456, "Willie's Drowned in Yarrow," cited for "Willie Drowned in Yarrow." - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
File: C215

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