And woe betide you, Annan Waters.
By night you are a gloomy river,
And over you I’ll build a bridge
That nevermore true love can sever.
Here is an English folk song that has been spinning its enchanting web around me for a few months. I had heard it before, from various singers, but it was only upon hearing a luminous performance by Kate Rusby (on her record Hourglass) that the beauty of the song really came through to me. It is a sad song, as is so often the case in this reportoire, about a young man who, after a desperate and exhausting night-time ride to see his ‘wondrous bonnie’ lover, attempts to swim across the river, and drowns.
Oh woe betide the willow wand,
And woe betide the bush and briar,
For you broke beneath my true love’s hand
When strength did fail and limbs did tire.
Here is Kate Rusby’s beautiful version of the song, married to some unrelated but not entirely inappropriate imagery. The volume level of this clip is quite high, and I found I had to turn it down to avoid distortion. (Mind you, my speakers are about as poor as speakers can be.) The full lyrics to the song are here.