As I went out walking one morning in May,
I spied a couple a-wending their way,
Oh one was a lady, a lady so fair,
And the other was a soldier, a brave volunteer.
Oh they walked along together for an hour or two,
When out from his knapsack his violin he drew;
And he played such sweet music, made the valley all ring,
While the waters did glide and the nightingale sing.
Said the soldier to the lady: "It is time to go o'er?"
"No, no," said the lady, "play just one tune more,
For I'd rather one tune on that beautiful thing,
Than hear the water glide and the nightingale sing."
Said the lady to the soldier: "Will you marry me?"
"No, no," said the soldier, "such a thing couldn't be,
For I have a dear one and children twice three,
And two wives in the army are too many for me."
This variant was collected in 1951 from Howard Morry of Ferryland, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.594-595, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
A variant was collected by Maud Karpeles [1885-1976] and published as The Nightingale, #77 in Folk Songs From Newfoundland (Faber & Faber, London, 1971).
A variant was collected in 1952 from Mrs Ambrose Coombs of Biscay Bay, NL, and published as The Nightingales in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
MacEdward Leach also collected s variant as One Morning In May (The Nightingale), published on pp.744-745 of The Ballad Book (A.S.Barnes, New York, 1955).
Harry Hibbs also recorded a variant as Hear The Nightingale Sing.
Kenneth Peacock noted that this little ballad descended from The Nightingale's Song, which appeared in the seventeenth century Roxborough Collection. Sometimes known as The Brave Volunteer, it was collected in the Southern Appalachians by Cecil Sharp as The Nightingale. Double entendre songs of this type have been popular ever since Elizabethan times. In The Banks Of The Roses, (also in this Newfoundland collection) the young man entertains his lady friend with his 'flute'.