> Shirley Collins > Songs > Blackbirds and Thrushes / The Lover’s Complaint

Blackbirds and Thrushes

[ Roud 12657 ; Master title: Blackbirds and Thrushes ; Ballad Index ShH36 ; VWML CJS2/10/255 , CJS2/10/932 ; Bodleian Roud 12657 ; trad.]

Isla Cameron sang Blackbirds and Thrushes on her and Ewan MacColl’s 1958 Riverside album English and Scottish Love Songs. A.L. Lloyd noted:

Cecil Sharp obtained this song in Somerset; the Irish musician, Petrie, heard it long before, in 1840. Whether it is English by birth or merely by adoption, we do not know, but there are few more effective lamentations against the tragedy of war than this sweet modest song.

Shirley Collins sang Blackbirds and Thrushes in 1959 on her first LP, Sweet England. The album’s notes comment:

An English lyric song from Sharp’s collection of English Folk Songs.


Shirley Collins sings Blackbirds and Thrushes

As I was a-walking for my recreation,
Down by the green meadows I silently strayed.
There I met a fair maid making great lamentation,
“Oh, Jimmy will be slain in the wars I’m afraid.”

The blackbirds and thrushes sing in the green bushes,
The larks and the doves seem to mourn for this maid.
And the song she sang was concerning her lover;
“Oh, Jimmy will be slain in the wars I’m afraid.”

When Jimmy returned with his heart full of yearning,
He found his dear Mary all dead in her grave.
He cried, “I’m forsaken, my poor heart is breaking,
I wish that I never had left this fair maid.”