> June Tabor > Songs > I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight

I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight /
The Rue and the Thyme

[ Roud 858 ; G/D 1:52 , 6:1139 ; Ballad Index K157 , Ord187 ; trad.]

June Tabor sangs I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight in 1993 with Tomás Lynch on his CD The Crux of the Catalogue. (also included in 2000 on the anthology Mr Straw's Hallway). She sang is also in 1997 on her Topic CD Aleyn (also included in 2001 on the anthology A Woman's Voice). She commented in her album notes:

There are both Scottish and Irish versions of this song (sometimes called Green Grass it Grows Bonny). I learned this one from the Dublin born singer Tomás Lynch.

Kate Rusby sang I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love This Night in 1999 on her album Sleepless and in 2000 at the Folk Festival Sidmouth.

Maureen Jelks sang the related song Rue and Thyme in 2000 on her CD Eence Upon a Time. She commented:

This song, one of unrequited love, I first heard at a women's concert at the Auchtermuchty festival, it was sung by Carol Pryor. I was so moved by the song I felt I had to learn it. I think the song was first heard sung by Ellen Mitchell. I'm not sure where it is from but some of the verses are to be found in many other songs of the same theme.

Ellen Mitchell of Glasgow sang The Rue and the Thyme in May 2008 at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife. This recording was released a year later on the CD Grand to Be a Working Man (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Vol. 5).

Grace Notes sang The Rue and the Thyme in 2007 on their Fellside CD Northern Tide. They and Lucy Wright also sang it at the Rugby Club, Whitby in 2010:

Josienne Clarke sang I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight in 2014 on her and Ben Walker's CD Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour.

Lyrics

June Tabor sings I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight

I wonder what's keeping my true love tonight,
I wonder what is keeping you out of my sight.
I wonder if you know of the pain I endure
And yet you stay from me this night I'm not sure.

Oh love, are you coming your own cause to advance?
Or yet are you waiting a far far better chance?
Are you coming to tell me you've a new love in store?
Are you coming to tell me you love me no more?

Oh no, I'm not coming my own cause to advance
For yet I'm a-waiting a far far better chance.
I'm coming to tell you I've a new love in store,
I'm coming to tell you I love you no more.

For I can love lightly and I can love strong
And I can love the old love till the new love comes on.
I only said I loved you for to give your heart ease
And when I'm not with you I'll love whom I please.

I've gold in my pocket and pain in my heart
For I can't love a love with one too many sweethearts.
You're my first and only false love but it's lately I knew
The fonder I loved you the falser you'd prove.

Spring grass grows the sweetest, spring water runs clear,
I'm sorry and tormented for the love of my false dear.
Your love it lies as lightly as the dew on the thorn
That descends in the evening, goes away with the dawn.

(repeat first verse)

Kate Rusby sings I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love This Night

I wonder what is keeping my true love this night,
I wonder what is keeping him out of my sight.
I wonder if he knows of the pain I endure
And stays from me this night I'm not sure.

Oh love, are you coming your cause to advance?
Or yet are you waiting for a far far better chance?
Are you coming for to tell me you've a new love in store
Or are you coming for to tell me you love me no more?

For I can love lightly and I can love strong,
I can love the old love till the new love comes on.
I only said I loved you for to give your heart ease
For when I'm not with you I'll love whom I please.

Oh, there's gold in my pocket and pain in my heart
For I can't love a man with too many sweethearts.
You're my first and only false love but it's lately I knew
The stronger I loved you the falser you grew.

Oh, the spring grass grows the greenest and spring water runs clear,
I'm sorry and tormented for the love of my dear.
Your love it lies so lightly as the dew on the thorn
That's there in the evening and away with the dawn,
That's there in the evening and away with the dawn.

Ellen Mitchell sings The Rue and the Thyme

There's a rose in yon garden is now in full bloom,
Has been spreading and growing, it will soon be a tree;
I reached right in tae it the rose to find,
But a thorn pricked my finger and I left it behind.

Chorus:
Oh rue, oh rue, oh rue is in prime,
Oh ye'll pull the red rose, I will pull the rue an' thyme.

Oh I loved him oh sae dearly but noo him disdain
For the mair that I loved him the prouder he became,
Aye, the mair that I loved him the saucier he grew
Ah, but now I must tell him that it's time for tae rue.

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh rue, oh rue, oh rue is in prime,
Oh ye'll pull the red rose and I'll pull the thyme.

Oh, ye'll pu' the reid rose, I will pu' the rue and thyme
Since ye've been unfaithfu', then I'll be unkind.
And drink ye tae yer new love and I'll drink tae mine
And here's a health tae the laddie that is maist on my mind.

For I can love a little or I can love long
I can love a new love when my love is gone.
I only said I loved him his mind for tae ease
Ah, but noo his back is tae me, I can love who I please.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love…