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A Canadian folk song, thought to be from Newfoundland.

As with most folk songs, there are many versions floating around. Here is the one I know. There are some obvious oddities in the plot--the river idea is abandoned, for instance--indicating that this version is perhaps missing a verse or two. But such a powerful image pulls a lot of weight, whether is it explained or not. The active "I" lets the reader get personally involved with the action without knowing exactly why this girl's heart is breaking. It gives the reader free imaginative rein.


She's like the swallow that flies so high
She's like a river that never runs dry
She's like the sunshine on the lee shore
I love my love and love is no more.

'Twas out in the garden this fair maid did go
A-picking the beautiful prim-a-rose
The more she plucked, the more she pulled
Until she got a river unpulled.

'Twas out of these posies she made a bed
A stony pillow for her head
She lay her down, no words did say
Until that fair maid's heart did break.

She's like the swallow that flies so high
She's like a river that never runs dry
She's like the sunshine on the lee shore
I love my love and love is no more.


This second version seems to be more complete, and clears up much of the mystery of the first version. I don't like it anywhere near as well, though. We lose much of the natural imagery in favor of dialogue and human issues. Nature isn't powerful or interesting here; it may be symbolic and decorative, yes, but not powerful. These people have stupid, petty, stereotypical problems, while the girl in the first version has some deep, unspecified grief, and the "I" reacts to that grief with its own. As well, this version gives a third person limited omniscient perspective on the story, distancing us even further from the action. But it does give a full story, so for those of you who like a full story, here is one.


She's like the swallow that flies so high,
She's like the river that never runs dry.
She's like the sunshine on the lee shore,
She loves her love but she'll love no more.

'Twas down in the meadow this fair maid bent
A-picking the primrose just as she went.
The more she picked and the more she pulled,
Until she gathered her apron full.

She climbed on yonder hill above
To give a rose unto her love.
She gave him one, she gave him three
She gave her heart for company.

And as they sat on yonder hill
His heart grew hard, so harder still.
He has two hearts instead of one.
She says, "Young man, what have you done?"

"How foolish, foolish you must be
To think I love no one but thee.
The world's not made for one alone,
I take delight in everyone."

She took her roses and made a bed,
A stony pillow for her head.
She lay her down, no more did say,
But let her roses fade away.

She's like the swallow that flies so high,
She's like the river that never runs dry,
She's like the sunshine on the lee shore,
She loves her love but she'll love no more.


Sources:
my head
http://www.contemplator.com/folk2/swallow.html

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