Friday, August 21, 2015

Young But Daily Growing

Girl marries young boy
Half her age. They have some kids.
He's dead at 18.

"Young But Daily Growing," also known as "The Trees They Do Grow High," "Daily Growing" and "Bonny Boy is Young (But Growing)", dates back at least to the 18th century, according to the ever reliable Wikipedia. The entry for this song says it was found in the Scottish manuscript collection of the 1770s of David Herd. It also formed the basis of the Robert Burns poemm, "Lady Mary Ann" from 1792. The song is about a boy who is married to a girl who is a bit older than he is. He's usually 11 or 12 or some absurdly young age to get married. It's a moving, haunting song, particularly in the sucker punch near the end:

At the age of sixteen, he was a married man
And at the age of seventeen he was a father to a son,
And at the age of eighteen the grass grew over him,
Cruel death soon put an end to his growing.
Growing, growing,
Cruel death soon put an end to his growing.


Version One
The trees they grow high,
the leaves they do grow green
Many is the time my true love I've seen
Many an hour I have watched him all alone
He's young,
but he's daily growing.

Father, dear father,
you've done me great wrong
You have married me to a boy who is too young
I'm twice twelve and he is but fourteen
He's young,
but he's daily growing.

Daughter, dear daughter,
I've done you no wrong
I have married you to a great lord's son
He'll be a man for you when I am dead and gone
He's young,
but he's daily growing.

Father, dear father, if you see fit
We'll send him to college for another year yet
I'll tie blue ribbons all around his head
To let the maidens know that he's married.

One day I was looking o'er my father's castle wall
I spied all the boys a-playing at the ball
My own true love was the flower of them all
He's young, but he's daily growing.

And so early in the morning
at the dawning of the day
They went out into the hayfield
to have some sport and play;
And what they did there,
she never would declare
But she never more complained of his growing.

At the age of fourteen, he was a married man
At the age of fifteen, the father of a son
At the age of sixteen, his grave it was green
Have gone, to be wasted in battle.
And death had put an end to his growing.

I'll buy my love some flannel
and I will make a shroud
With every stitch I put in it,
the tears they will pour down
With every stitch I put in it,
how the tears will flow
Cruel fate has put an end to his growing.

Version Two
The trees they grow so high and the leaves they do grow green,
And many a cold winter's night my love and I have seen.
Of a cold winter's night, my love, you and I alone have been,
Whilst my bonny boy is young, he's a-growing.
Growing, growing,
Whilst my bonny boy is young, he's a-growing.

O father, dearest father, you've done to me great wrong,
You've tied me to a boy when you know he is too young.
O daughter, dearest daughter, if you wait a little while,
A lady you shall be while he's growing.
Growing, growing,
A lady you shall be while he's growing.

I'll send your love to college all for a year or two
And then in the meantime he will do for you;
I'll buy him white ribbons, tie them round his bonny waist
To let the ladies know that he's married.
Married, married,
To let the ladies know that he's married.

I went up to the college and I looked over the wall,
Saw four and twenty gentlemen playing at bat and ball.
I called to my true love, but they would not let him come,
All because he was a young boy and growing.
Growing, growing,
All because he was a young boy and growing.

At the age of sixteen, he was a married man
And at the age of seventeen he was a father to a son,
And at the age of eighteen the grass grew over him,
Cruel death soon put an end to his growing.
Growing, growing,
Cruel death soon put an end to his growing.

And now my love is dead and in his grave doth lie,
The green grass grows o'er him so very, very high.
I'll sit and I'll mourn his fate until the day I die,
And I'll watch o'er his child while he's growing.
Growing, growing,
And I'll watch o'er his child while he's growing.

Dylan's version, recorded during the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions with the Band, is not substantially different.






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