Todd’s sweet rural shade, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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Oh, one evening fair to take the air as I carelesslie did stray
Down by a grove, I chanced to rove, it being in the month of May;
There I beheld a comelie maid, she has my fond heart betrayed,
Sly Cupid’s dart did pierce my heart on Todd’s sweet rural shade.

Her carriage neat and limbs complete as she gentlie moved along,
Her skin was like the fallen snow when blowing o’er the land
Her cherry cheeks and yellow hair has my fond heart betrayed,
You gods, combine and ease my mind on Todd’s sweet rural shade.

Oh the blackbird with her lovely notes does make the valley ring,
And the cuckoo joins in chorus then, for to welcome back the spring
The lark has left her verdant vale, the linnet for to aid,
For to please that fair beyond compare on Todd’s sweet rural shade.

– Oh, says I, my fair and comelie maid, would you consent to love?
Your deluding smiles has me beguiled when crossing o’er yon shade.
Do not deny, with me comply, and lend me your fond aid,
Then I’ll resign this heart of mine on Todd’s sweet rural shade.

– Oh, she says, young man, I pray forbear, such jesting I disdain,
I am too young to be controlled by Cupid’s cunning chain;
But if I thought you were sincere, as ofttimes you have said,
Then I’ll resign this heart of mine on Todd’s sweet rural shade.


Then hand and hand we both walked on out o’er yon dewy plain,
My bosom felt a warm glow, I knew not care nor pain.
Beneath yon bower we spent an hour till unto me she said,
– I will resign this heart of mine on Todd’s sweet rural shade.
Beneath yon bower where verdant flowers they bedecked that lovelie maid,
Oh, she blessed the day she chanced to stray by Todd’s sweet rural shade.


The location of this beautified marriage proposal seems precise but is obscure. The place-name is the sort that occurs only in poetry, and if we can more or less localize ‘David’s flowery vale’ (no 21) or ‘Walmsley’s shady groves’, we are less successful with ‘Todd’s sweet rural shade’. Since I have found no other version of the song it is probably an Ulster one. It is in the Gaelic tradition: from a rural encounter and a portrait of the girl we pass to dialogue with little action, all expressed with conventional elegance and plenty of internal rhyme. Indeed internal rhyme generally gives way only to admit flowers of rhetoric that would otherwise have to be excluded.