DESCRIPTION: The singer meets a maid with rushes she'd been gathering. She goes with him to a shady grove. See asks him not to tease her nor break her rushes. They have sex. She says her mother will chide her and, if she has a baby, the world will "scoff and frown"
EARLIEST DATE: before 1813 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 17(42a))
KEYWORDS: courting sex promise betrayal foreignlanguage seduction mother baby
FOUND IN: Ireland Canada(Mar) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs 64, "The Bonny Bunch of Rushes Green" (1 text, 1 tune)
Vikár/Panagapka-SongsNorthWoodsSungByOJAbbott 59, "The Bonny Bunch of Rushes Green" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-FolksongsFromSouthernNewBrunswick 22, "Bonny Bunch of Rushes Green" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle 48, "Gathering Rushes" (1 text)
Brocklebank/Kindersley-DorsetBookOfFolkSongs, p. 28, "Bunch of Rushes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Forget-Me-Not-Songster, pp. 65-66, "The Bunch of Rushes" (1 text)
ST RcABLtlb (Full)
Roud #831 and 3380
Philip McDermott, "The Reaping of the Rushes Green" (on Voice18, IRHardySons)
Maire O'Sullivan, "An Binnsin Luchra (The Little Bench [or Bunch] of Rushes)" [fragment] (on Lomax42, LomaxCD1742)
Bodleian, Harding B 17(42a), "Bunch of Rushes, O!" ("As I walk'd out one morning"), J. Evans (London)), 1780-1812; also Harding B 11(393), "Rushes Green," W. Armstrong (Liverpool), 1820-1824; also Harding B 11(3369), 2806 c.17(371), "Rushes Green"; also Harding B 11(485), Harding B 11(486), "[The] Bunch of Rushes"
cf. "Gathering Rushes in the Month of May (Underneath Her Apron)" (theme of rushing and seduction)
NOTES [281 words]: Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle: "'Rushing' is in the lingua franca of folk song frequently a metaphor for female sexual adventure, as ploughing, sowing and reaping are for male." - BS
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs notes to 64: "This is an English version of the widely known Irish Gaelic song ... In JFSS III 17 Lucy Broadwood gives a version from Waterford, Ireland, with alternate English and Gaelic stanzas." Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs includes the "Arabian Queen" reference that ties it to Creighton-FolksongsFromSouthernNewBrunswick.
Broadside Bodleian Harding B 11(393), which is in English, is -- like Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs -- just about seduction; it refers to "any queen" rather than "Arabian queen" and shares the reference to hunting dogs and singing birds with Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs. -BS
Roud has a rather different split of this song than we do, making two Irish versions titled "The Reaping of the Rushes Green," from Paddy Tunney and Philip McDermott, #3380 and all other texts #831. It appears to me that these may be the versions closest to the Irish Gaelic. After some puzzling, I've decided to put both types here, to let you figure it out for yourself. The description above is for the English versions. Ben Schwartz wrote the following descriptions for the Irish Gaelic texts:
Irish Gaelic: Singer, going to the water-meadow, meets a girl who has cut rushes. He bids her join him in the forest. She reproaches him; he'd promised a home and fine clothing, "all in payment for the bench of roses and the trouble I had over it."
The whole thing probably needs another look. - RBW, (BS)
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