The Hawthorn Tree
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This tune appears in The Dancing Master (1650-51) as Dargason, or the Sedany. The Sedany was a country dance. The words are in Ritson's Ancient Songs under Class IV, (from Edward VI to Elizabeth) as A Mery Ballet of the Hathorne Tre, to be sung to the tune of Donkin Dargeson.*

One Hundred Songs of England says Dargeson may be a reference to an "old piece played by the Children of the Revels at Blackfriars in 1606 entitled The Isle of Gulls." A couplet from The Isle of the Gulls has a reference to a place named Dargison. There was also a children's story with a dwarf named Dargison who served as a page to the hero.*

The tune Dargeson or Sedany was entered in the Stationers' Register on Aug. 13, 1579.

The Irish Washerwoman is a variant of this tune.

It was a maid of my country
As she came by a hawthorn tree,
As full of flow'rs as might be seen
She marvel'd to see the tree so green.

At last she asked of this tree,
How came this freshness unto thee,
And ev'ry branch so fair and clean?
I marvel that you grow so green.

The tree made answer by and by,
I have cause to grow triumphantly,
The sweetest dew that ever be seen
Doth fall on me to keep me green.

Yea, quoth the maid, but where you grow
You stand at hand for ev'ry bow,
Of ev'ry man for to be seen,
I marvel that you grow so green.

Though many one take flow'rs from me,
And many a branch out of my tree,
I have such store they will not be seen
For more and more my twigs grow green.

But how, an' they chance to cut thee down,
And carry thy branches into the town?
Then they will never more be seen
To grow again so fresh and green.

Though that you do it is no boot,
Altho' they cut me to the root,
Next year again I will be seen
To bud my branches fresh and green.

And you, fair maid, cannot do so,
For when your beauty once does go
Then will it never more be seen,
As I with my branches can grow green.

The maid with that began to blush
And turn'd her from the hawthorn bush
She thought herself so fair and clean,
Her beauty still would ever grow green.

But after this never could I hear
Of this fair maiden anywhere,
That ever she was in forest seen
To talk again with the hawthorn green.
Related Links
From One Hundred Songs of England
See Bibliography for full information.