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A-Roving on a Winter's Night / Dearest Dear

[ Roud 3601 ; G/D 8:1540 ; Ballad Index SKE40 ; trad.]

Shirley Collins sang the parting song Dearest Dear in 1964 on her and Davy Graham's album Folk Roots, New Routes. This recording was also included in 2002 on her anthology Within Sound.

The song basically consist of a lot of floating verses that amongst others also appear in A-Roving on a Winter's Night, a song from the family repertoire of Doc Watson of Deep Gap, North Carolina. His cousin Dolly Greer sang it in a 1964 recording that was published in 1977 on the LP The Watson Family Tradition.

Peter Bellamy and Lisa Null sang A-Roving on a Winter's Night in 1979 on his LP Both Sides Then. The track was also included on his Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.

Maggie Holland sang Roving on a Winter's Night in 2003 on her CD Circle of Light. She commented in her liner notes:

I learned Roving on a Winter's Night from the singing of Doc Watson—although the Appalachian tradition came up with a sprightly tune the words seem to be descended via various floating verses from My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose. (I don't know what a “butter rose” is, but it sounds nice.) I think Robbie would have approved of the notion of drinking good old wine and reminiscing about some pretty little girl who'd broken his heart.

Steve Tilston sang Roving on a Winter's Night in 1998 on his Fellside album Solorubato. He and Maggie Boyle also recorded it in 2006 for the Free Reed 4 CD anthology Midwinter.

Jon Boden and Fay Hield sang A-Roving on a Winter's Night as the December 10, 2010 entry of Jon's project A Folk Song a Day.

Compare to this the related song The Turtle Dove.

Lyrics

Shirley Collins sings Dearest Dear  

My dearest dear, the time draws near
When you and I must part,
And no one knows the inner grief
Of my poor aching heart.

Just to see what I suffered for your sake,
You are my love so dear.
I’d rather I could go with you
Or you could tarry here.

I wish your breast was made of glass
And in it I'd behold,
My name in secret I would write
In letters of bright gold.

Your name in secret I would write,
Believe me when I say
That you’re the one that I love best
Until my dying day.

And when you're on some distant shore,
Think on your absent friend.
And when the wind blows high and clear
A line or two pray send.

And when the wind blows high and clear
Pray to send it love to me,
That I shall know by your hand-write
How times have gone with thee.

Dolly Greer sings A-Roving on a Winter's Night Peter Bellamy sings A-Roving on a Winter's Night

A-rovin' on a winter's night,
And a-drinkin' good old wine;
Thinkin' about that pretty little girl,
That broke this heart of mine.

A-roving on a winter's night
And a-drinking good old wine;
A-thinking all about that pretty little girl,
She broke this heart of mine.

She is just like a butter rose
That blooms in the month of June:
Or like some musical instrument
That's just been lately tuned.

She is just like a bud of rose
That blooms in the month of June;
She's like some musical instrument
That has just been lately tuned.

Perhaps it's a trip to some foreign land
A trip to France or Spain.
But if I should go ten thousand miles
I'm a-comin' back again.

So perhaps it is a trip to a foreign land,
Some trip to France or Spain,
But though I'd go ten thousand miles
I am coming back again.

And it's who's a-gonna shoe your poor little feet?
Who's a-gonna glove your little hands?
Who's a-gonna kiss your sweet little lips?
Honey who's a-gonna be your man?

But tell me who is gonna shoe your poor little foot,
And who will glove your tiny hand?
Tell me who is gonna kiss your sweet, sweet lips,
Tell me who will be your man.

I'll love you till the sea runs dry
And the rocks all melt in the sun;
I'll love you till the day I die
Though you will never be my own.

I will love you till all the seas run dry
And the rocks all melt in the sun;
I will love you till the day I die
Though you'll never be my own.

(repeat first verse)

(repeat first verse)

Acknowledgements

See the Mudcat Café thread Origin: A-Roving on a Winter's Night