Friday, March 6, 2009

Willow's Weekly Word


Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
~W. B. Yeats

Did you know a salley is a willow tree? "Salley" is an anglicisation
of the Irish saileach, meaning willow, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix.
Willows are known as "salleys", "sallies" or "salley trees" in parts of
"Down By The Salley Gardens" (in the Irish, "Gort na Saileán") is a
well known poem by William Butler Yeats included in his book, The
Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, published in 1889. Yeats
indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old
song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant
woman in the village of Ballysodare, Sligo, who often sings them to
The verse was subsequently set to music by Herbert Hughes to the
air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. In the 1920s composer
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) set the text to music.

I thought you might enjoy this recording of W. B. Yeats, himself,
reading this poem:

And here is the familiar tune, as well:

So, how's this for a Willowy Irish post?

I stand corrected, Bloggies! This is not read by Yeats
himself, as I previously stated, but by Tom O'Bedlam
for SpokenVerse on YouTube. Mr. O'Bedlam (witty
name), you have a most divine voice! Thank you!

info from Wikipedia
photo from Flickr


  1. Such a beautiful blog on so many different levels, I just had to say hi and thank you! I am now feeling relaxed enough to go outside and enjoy the rain we are having here in Japan. ;-)

  2. First Comment! Sorry, couldn't resist. Very interesting. You really do learn something new everyday!

  3. drat, I wasn't first afterall...

  4. Willow that was so lovely and soooo
    Irish ! Thanks!

  5. Love the old poem, the tune...and glad for the information. Hope you have a great Friday...wonderful weekend.
    Blessings, Susie

  6. How lovely! I had not known that meaning! (So are you also known as Sallie?)

  7. Willow thank you for this post which was a treat for the senses. What a voice WB Yeats had... it rumbled through my body.... The tune reflects the melancholy of the lines.

  8. your kitchen window is lovely.

  9. wonderful to listen to that voice. I'm coming back on St. Patrick's day to listen again.


  10. Willowy and Irish, indeed! As the great man wrote, "Sing whatever is well made..." He did. So did you.

  11. That was thoroughly enjoyable - thank you! I never knew that about "Sally" which used to be my nickname when I was a kid.

    Yeats did not sound very Irish to me. I was surprised. A beautiful poem and the music too has the wonderful Irish melancholy. 'Tis in me blood!

    I really like your new hairdo too.


  12. This insomniac is enjoying your blog very much.

  13. Gives new meaning to the song: Mustang Sall(ey).

  14. How terrific - The poem read by the Yeats himself, and then that lovely tune! What a treat!
    And your haircut is really flattering...I LOVE Bobs!

  15. Yeats was a genius. I'm eager to listen to him reading.

  16. .. well I never knew salley was a willow tree.. always thought it was a 'place name'. I love Willow Trees.. lots grow by the riversides over here... and of course the 'pussy willow' will be out soon.... a beautiful sign of spring.

  17. All set for St Patrick's day!

  18. I absolutely LOVED the music! What a beautiful tune, so whimsical. The poem reading was also riviting, Mr. Yeats had a very note worthy reading voice. I think I could listen to him for hours! Thank you for sharing these things with us___=^..^=___Kittie

  19. What an inspiring post. I loved how you traced the word to its origin in Ireland (by the way your post fits my mood perfectly as I am reading a book set in Ireland, although it is during the great famine in the 1800s so it's not very uplifting) and the accompanying poem is magnificent. Another brilliant article. many thanks.

    To asnwer the question you asked me on my blog, yes, I did do another video which I uploaded on youtube. It was for a paper exhibition we had a few years ago when I still used to work in the arts.

    Greetings from London.

  20. I really enjoyed what you've post here!Really and loved the pictures of you too!
    have anice day Willow

  21. I just came over to succour my soul, and that I did by listening to that deep and vibrant voice.

  22. I knew about the Salix bit. Any points?

  23. I love Yeats

    One thing willow - have you put something new on your blog It is taking absolutely ages to load. You won't notice it because it's cached. I even gave up a couple of times lately. I just thought you'd like to know

  24. I really enjoyed this blog Willow and one of my favourites by WB.

  25. Excellent as always and a beautiful choice of poem. I love your new haircut btw, xv.

  26. Hello Willow,

    Although I've known this song for a long time, I didn't know the reference to Willow trees! Couldn't be more appropriate for you.

    I've also taken the time today to look at your new 'hair do' and kitchen window - both lovely! I notice your hob is in front of the window. In UK it is usually the sink in that position, so one can gaze at the view and forget the drudgery!!

  27. I had not known that word for willows! Love the painting - such a beautiful golden light.

    Your new hairstyle is great!

  28. This is one of my favorite songs, but I didn't know salley meant willow. Heartbreaking without it, even more so with the willows added.

  29. How lovely...thank you for the sweet start to Friday!

  30. A great kickoff to upcoming St. Patrick's Day. Being of Irish origin myself, was very meaningful and educational.

  31. What a great post- I have always loved that "diddy" and it is so nice to hear its background- AND Yeats actual voice. Love the new do- and its looking like your walks are slimming you down! Ive been on Weight Watchers for 3 weeks and have lost 2 lbs each week- so feeling good- ill be ready for a jig soon. Slante'

  32. What I way to start the day. First all those pretty pictures of you. I have to take my own photos too.

    Then the very informative article and the poem. I don't know much about Yeats but he's got a sexy voice and he looks like a sexy Steve Martin. I like the scar. My husband like to read me this "Sally" poem by Henry Carey. It's on the light-hearted side.

    The Ballad of Sally in our Alley

    Of all the Girls that are so smart
    There’s none like pretty SALLY,
    She is the Darling of my Heart,
    And she lives in our Alley.
    There is no Lady in the Land
    Is half so sweet as SALLY,
    She is the Darling of my Heart,
    And she lives in our Alley

    and so on and so forth....

  33. And what a romantic tree to sit under and dream and compose, just the word salley makes me pine for spring and green trees.

  34. He had such a sexy voice, didn't he? Someone gave me a CD set of poets reading their own works a few years ago. It's amazing to listen to.

    Yeats? Who can resist his fairy-inspired poetry. Wow!!

  35. Oh, wow! I've never heard Yeats' voice before--thanks for that, Willow. Amazing. And I like the notion of the sally. Great post from an Irish lassie. Top o' the mornin' to ya.'

  36. I confess to not caring so much about les words but ...

    Hey ! thanks for the choppy bob haircut pic 'cause I was really wondering about "it". It 'tis tres lovely ! xo from tout la Gang at 29 Black.

  37. Lovely, lovely poem! What a treat.

  38. Love the poetry. I will be singing about the willow tree all day today.

    So bury me beneath the willow...

    Very nice photo of you.

  39. Bonjour!
    What a wonderful blog!I had a great surprise now!Many thanks for share so cool post!
    Have a great weekend

    God bless you

    Léia :-)

  40. THank you so much for the wonderful vignettes of words you create!

    I hope one day you do one of my poems. I'm not an old dead white man but I do have a tremendous collection of poetry :)

  41. so many comments, you popular girl you!
    love the new photos on the right, the kitchen window, and your self portraits. lots of fun!

    sometimes i get discouraged from writing, since you always have so many comments. but...lovin' it!

  42. What a beautiful poem...
    Thank you for it, Willow :))))

  43. I love Yeats! I especially love his Lake Isle of Innisfree:

    "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade."

    I always wanted to live in a bee-loud glade. I read somewhere that Yeats wrote that while sitting in a very boring lady's parlor. I often think of this poem while I'm at work.

  44. Willow,
    Love the new doo! It looks great! very Irish indeed!Have a super weekend!Always learning here:)
    Salut du Midi

  45. I have read this poem before, but never had the privilege of listening to it recited by Mr. Yeats himself. A very Willowy Irish post indeed!

  46. A smashing post! You are keeping us alive and well. I love what I learn when I visit you, Willow!

  47. Wow! Thank you for visiting my blog too! I wasn't sure where to post this, but I just wanted you to know that your site is a really BIG inspiration for me. If there is anything you'd like to be reminded of about Japan, just let me know!

  48. I've never heard Yeats' voice -- and I have been reading his poetry for more than 20 years. I didn't know that "salley" meant willow, either. Your blog is always such an interesting blend of the personal and informational, Willow. And you have a very light touch!

    (I've been off the computer for two days . . . and so many new things here!)

  49. Lovely to hear Yeats reading his poem! It's amazing what you can find on Youtube. Thank you for sharing this.

  50. That is very interesting. In England, willows are often called "sallows".

  51. This is absolutely my cup of tea! Fascinating explication of Salley Gardens! And the reading by Yeats is enough to conjure Maude herself! I loved finding this one.
    It's great to see your photos too...stylish hair and darling face!
    Thank you for another fabulous post!

  52. I loved hearing Mr. Yeats reading his own poem. You post the neatest things!

  53. What a wonderful find of Yeats reading the poem. Thank you, Willow.

  54. Yes, I actually did as my sister and aunt are named as such!


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)