> June Tabor > Songs > She's Like the Swallow

She's Like the Swallow

[ Roud 2306 ; Ballad Index FJ140 ; VWML RoudFS/S160839 ; trad.]

Maud Karpeles collected She's Like a Swallow from John Hunt of Dunville, Newfoundland, on 8 July 1930 [ VWML RoudFS/S160839 ] and printed it her 1971 book Folk Songs from Newfoundland. Another version, collected by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs Charlotte Decker of Parson's Pond, Newfoundland, in August 1959, [ VWML RoudFS/S160845 ] was included in Edith Fowke's 1973 book The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs.

Osian Ellis sang She's Like a Swallow in 1959 on the anthology The Jupiter Book of Ballads.

Isla Cameron sang He's Like the Swallow in 1966 on her eponymous Transatlantic album, Isla Cameron.

Barry Dransfield sang She's Like a Swallow in 1972 on his eponymous album Barry Dransfield. He noted:

This has a theme which is common to many traditional songs, that of a girl who becomes pregnant and dies of a broken heart following the departure of her unprincipled lover.

Coope Boyes & Simpson sang She's Like a Swallow in 1998 on their No Masters CD Hindsight.

Cara Dillon sang She's Like the Swallow in 2002 at the Cambridge Folk Festival. This recording was included in 2007 on the festival anthology Cool As Folk.

June Tabor sang She's Like the Swallow in 2005 on her Topic CD At the Wood's Heart. She noted:

First noted by Maud Karpeles in 1930, this Newfoundland song of unhappy love was collected by Kenneth Peacock in the 1960s. The swallow verse seems to be unique to the Maritimes.

Emily Portman sang She's Like the Swallow in 2008 on Rubus' CD Nine Witch Knots. She noted:

Passed onto me by the wonderful Chris Coe. She's Like the Swallow can also be found in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, selected by the aptly named folklorist Edith Fowke.

Salt House sang She's Like the Swallow in 2013 on their CD Lay Your Dark Low.

Gudrun Walther and J├╝rgen Treyz sang She's Like the Swallow on their 2017 CD Duo. They noted:

This song is very likely of Irish or Scottish origin. Versions have also been reported from Cornwall—but the first written proof of its existence was brought by a musicologist doing field recordings in Newfoundland in the 1930s.

Lyrics

June Tabor sings She's Like the Swallow

She's like the swallow that flies so high,
She's like the river that never runs dry.
She's like the sunshine all on a lee shore,
She loves her love but she'll love no more.

Down in the meadow this young maid went,
A-picking primroses just as she bent.
The more she picked, oh, the more she pulled,
Until she gathered her apron full.

She climbed on yonder hill above
To give a rose to her true love.
She gave him one rose, she gave him three,
She gave her heart for company.

And as they sat on yonder hill
His heart grew hard, so harder still.
He has two hearts instead of one.
She cried, “Young man, what have you done?”

“How foolish, foolish you must be
To think I love no one but thee.
The world's not made for one alone.
I take delight in everyone.”

She took her roses and made a bed,
A stony pillow for her head.
She laid her down, no more to say,
But let her roses fade away.

She's like the swallow that flies so high,
She's like the river that never runs dry.
She's like the sunshine all on a lee shore,
She loved her love but she'll love no more.

Emily Portman sings She's Like the Swallow

She's like the swallow that flies so high,
She's like the river that never runs dry.
She's like the sunshine all on a lee shore,
She loves her love but she'll love no more.

Down in the meadow this fair maid went,
A-picking primroses just as she bent.
The more she picked, oh, the more she pulled,
Until she gathered her apron full.

She climbed on yonder hill above
To give a rose unto her love.
Well, she gave him one, she gave him three,
She gave her heart for company.

And as they sat on yonder hill
His heart grew hard, and harder still.
He has two hearts instead of one.
She says, “Young man, what have you done?”

“How foolish, foolish you must be
To think I love no one but thee.
The world's not made for one alone.
I take delight in everyone.”

She took her roses and made a bed,
A stony pillow to rest her head.
She laid her down, no more to say,
And let her roses fade away.

(repeat first verse)