Author Topic: Add: Flora, The Lily Of The West

Pip Freeman

Posted - 03 Mar 04 - 12:38 pm

'Twas when I came to England, some pleasures for to find,
There I espied a damsel most pleasing to my mind;
Her rosy cheeks amd shining eyes as arrows pierced my breast,
Her name was lovely Flora, the Lily of the West.

Her golden hair in ringlets hung, her dress was spangled o'er;
She'd rings on every finger, brought from a foreign shore;
'Twould ruin kings and princes, so richly was she dress'd,
She far excelleth Venus, this Lily of the West.

I courted her a fortnight, in hopes her love to gain,
But soon she turn'd against me, which caused all my pain.
She robb'd me of my freedom, she robb'd me of my rest,
I roam, forsook of Flora, the Lily of the West.

Alas! where'er I wander, however much I will,
The thought of that fair maiden abideth with me still;
For ever I am downcast, for ever sore oppress'd,
An outcast e'er from Flora, the Lily of the West.

Source: Songs of the West by S. Baring-Gould.

Baring Gould Notes:
Two melodies have been noted down to this ballad, one from Matthew Baker, the old cripple on Lew Down, the other from Samuel Fone. The first one is identical with one obtained in Yorkshire by Mr Kidson.

The words are on Broadsheets by Such, Fortey, Bar of Leeds, etc. In the original the lover betrayed by Flora stabs to the heart the "lord of high degree" who has supplanted him -
"I walked up to my rival with a dagger in my hand,
And seized him from my false love, and bid him boldly stand;
Then, mad with desperation, I swore I'd pierce his breast,
And I was betrayed by Flora, the Lily of the West."
He is tried for murder, but "a flaw was in the indictment found," and he escapes the gallows. And the ballad winds up -
"Although she swore my life away, she still disturbs my rest.
I must ramble for my Flora, the Lily of the West"
I have thought it well to cut out the murder and the trial

The ballad has clearly an Irish orrigin, what air is used in Ireland I am unable to say. It has been generally accepted that the ending of a phrase on the same three notes is characteristic Irish music. It is not more so than English folk airs. "Flora, the Lily of the West" was won't to be sung annually at the Revel at St Breward's on the Bodmin Moors, and can be traced back there to 1839. There Henry Hawken, sexton at Mickalstow, hard by, acquired it, and from him the first melody was taken down as well as by the Rev. W.J. Wyon, vicar of St Issey, in 1889

The versions collected from Matthew Baker and Samuel Fone have been added to the database as Flora, The Lily Of The West (1) and (2) respectively.


Posted - 03 Mar 04 - 06:17 pm

I love the parody that I first came across at Mudcat

The Lily of the Net
(Holly Tannen)

When first I cruised the Internet, some pleasure there to find
A damsel there from AOL was pleasing to my mind
Her polished prose, her flashing wit, I never will forget
The name she bore was Flora, the Lily of the Net.

When first I cruised the Internet, Twas as a kind of joke
I posted to the Ballad List, and to
The answers she wrote back to me, they do torment me yet
I fell in love with Flora, the Lily of the Net.

So I accessed her Web page, my heart's delight to see
And there I spied a dazzling girl, a-smilin' up at me
Her rosy cheeks, her ruby lips, they sore did me beset
I was bewitched by Flora, the Lily of the Net.

So next I got my courage up, and called her on the phone
She turned the television down and said she was alone
Her voice was so melodious, I broke out in a sweat
I scarce could speak to Flora, the Lily of the Net.

For nine long months we e-mailed, till we resolved to meet
In San Francisco in a pub, way out on Geary Street
I used my frequent flyer miles and swore I'd ne'er regret
My plans to meet my Flora, the Lily of the Net.

For courting of this fair maid I greatly did prepare
I bought a suit and got a trim of my remaining hair.
My mother oft had told me what you see is what you get
And what I saw was Flora the Lily of the Net.

She wore a purple leisure suit all stained with coffee grounds
Her hair was bleached, her skin was grey, she weighed two hundred pounds
Between her flaccid lips she held a hand-rolled cigarette
Was this my faithless Flora? The Lily of the Net?

And when she saw my stricken face, a sigh escaped her breast
She took my trembling hand in hers and tearfully confessed
The picture was her daughter, a twelve-year old nymphet
I was betrayed by Flora, the Lily of the Net.

Come all you ramblin gamblin men who lurk both night and day
Don't trust a gal from AOL whatever she may say
I'd rather have my fantasies I wish I'd never met
That false deluding Flora, the Lily of the Net.

Pip Freeman

Posted - 03 Mar 04 - 09:57 pm

Brilliant Ed!

I heard Joan Baez singing a version of Flora, the Lily of the West the other evening and wondered where it came from.

masato sakurai

Posted - 04 Mar 04 - 01:46 am

Seven editions are at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

flora the lily of the west [title]

Mr Happy

Posted - 10 Mar 04 - 02:21 am

ppm did a really gloomy version too in the 70s. But pp+m -gloom's their middle name.

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