I wish my Love was a Red, Red Rose

WORDS: Traditional, verses three and four by Tim Dennehy
MUSIC: Trad. Arr. Tim Dennehy
FIDDLE: Nollaig Ní Chathasaigh
GUITAR: Garry O'Briain.

This song sits comfortably under the sub-title of the album, 'songs of love, loss and longing'. It has many of the characteristics of an English folksong and numerous versions can be found in England and Scotland. It was popularised by Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and David Hammond whose version can be sourced to Sarah Makem from Keady, Co. Armagh. This particular version, with some extra verses, evolved when I was driving from Cahersiveen to Clare on a beautiful summer's day in 1985.

I wish my love was a red, red rose,
Growing in yon garden fair
And me to be the gardener
'Tis of her I would take care.
There is not a month throughout the year
But my love I would renew.
I'd garnish her with flowers fine
Sweet William, thyme and rue.

I wish I was a butterfly
I'd light on my love's breast
Or if I was a blue cuckoo
I'd sing my love to rest.
If I but was a nightingale
I'd sing 'til the daylight clear.
I'd sit and watch with you my love
For once I loved you dear.

The first time that I met my love
Was in the market square.
The look that passed between us then
My heart it did ensnare
But fate displayed its cruel hand
And we were forced to part.
Farewell my own dear Mary
You're my joy my own sweetheart.

For love it is a sharpened sword
That sears and tears apart.
It brings great rhapsodies of joy
But still can break your heart.
Oh painful joy oh joyous pain
From dawn 'til night does fall.
It was better to have loved and lost
Than never loved at all.

And Mary I'm so lonely now
Without you all the while.
I miss your lovely wish and cheer
I miss your gentle smile.
Before I go to sleep at night
Before my eyes I close.
I pray that God may guide you right
You're my lovely Irish rose.

And I wish you were beside me now
And seated on the ground.
A warm embrace, your smiling face
Your fragrance all around.
I'd call your name so gently then
As I did oft times before
And I'd roll you in my arms my love
Let the wind blow high or low.