The Water is Wide
(O Waly, Waly)

Download Midi File
John Renfro Davis

The song was orginally Waly, Waly, but in the 19th century came to be known as The Water is Wide. The song was published in 1724. O Waly, Waly is sometimes reported to be part of a longer ballad, Lord Jamie Douglas. However, Douglas was first published by Herd (1776) where it states it is to be sung to the tune of Waly, Waly, so it is fairly certain that Waly, Waly is the earlier tune. The water is wide, I cannot get o'er
And neither have I wings to fly.
O go and get me some little boat,
To carry o'er my true love and I.

A-down in the meadows the other day
A-gath'ring flow'rs both fine and gay
A-gath'ring flowers, both red and blue,
I little thought what love could do.

I put my hand into one soft bush,
Thinking the sweetest flow'r to find.
I prick'd my finger to the bone
And left the sweetest flow'r alone.

I lean'd my back up against some oak,
Thinking it was a trusty tree.
But first he bended then he broke,
So did my love prove false to me.

Where love is planted, O there it grows,
It buds and blossoms like some rose;
It has a sweet and pleasant smell,
No flow'r on earth can it excel.

Must I be bound, O and she go free!
Must I love one thing that does not love me!
Why should I act such a childish part,
And love a girl that will break my heart.

There is a ship sailing on the sea,
She's loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as in love I am;
I care not if I sink or swim.

O love is handsome and love is fine,
And love is charming when it is true;
As it grows older it groweth colder
And fades away like the morning dew.

Alternate end

The water is wide, I cannot get over,
There's no true love, at least not for me,
My love was untrue but I can't complain,
Some day I hope to love again.
First set of Lyrics from One Hundred English Folksongs
Alternate ending from Golden Encyclopedia of Folk Music
See Bibliography for full information.