The Little Turtle Dove
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This tune is a variant of The True Lover's Farewell. It was popular in both England and in America. Cecil Sharp collected nine variants in the Appalachian Mountains. Another variant and alternate title is Ten Thousand Miles.

True Lover's Farewell appeared in Roxburghe Ballads dated 1710. It was also in Five excellent New Songs a collection printed in 1792.

The song is similar to a song Queen Mary's Lament, that was printed in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (1787-1803).

O can't you see yon little turtle dove
Sitting under the mulberry tree?
See how that she doth mourn for her true love:
And I shall mourn for thee, my dear,
And I shall mourn for thee.

O fare thee well, my little turtle dove,
And fare thee well for a-while;
But though I go I'll surely come again,
If I go ten thousand mile, my dear,
If I go ten thousand mile.

Ten thousand mile is very far away,
For you to return to me,
You leave me here to lament, and well-a-day!
My tears you will not see, my love,
My tears you will not see.

The crow that's black, my little turtle dove,
Shall change its colour white;
Before I'm false to the maiden I love,
The noon-day shall be night, my dear,
The noon-day shall be night.

The hills shall fly, my little turtle dove,
The roaring billows burn,
Before my heart shall suffer me to fail,
Or I a traitor turn, my dear,
Or I a traitor turn.
Related Links
From Folk-Songs, Chanteys and Singing Games
Information From One Hundred English Folksongs and
English Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians
See Bibliography for full information.