The flower. Of course. It had to be, didn’t it? I actually thought it seemed a bit of a poor year for lavender whilst I was back in England. Maybe I’d missed them at their best, but the flowers just didn’t seem as profuse and vibrant as usual. Maybe too much hot weather and not enough rain? The bees didn’t seem to mind though.
Aside from the flower, this week’s One Word Photo Challenge also made me think of the old fashioned little rhyme. Maybe you know it?
Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?’
Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
I’ve always thought of it as a children’s nursery rhyme. And by the Victorian era onwards it was, so I was sort of right. But it was actually born as a ‘broadside ballad’. Broadsides were really common in England during the 16th and 17th Centuries and were cheap, widely affordable one-sided prints, providing popular news, illustrations, rhymes, or in this case, ballads to the masses.
Ballads are part of Britain’s traditional musical heritage, with broadsheet ballads often showing a much bawdier side of British humour and behaviour than some might expect. Favourite subjects varied, but often included love, sex, drinking, and legends. No different from today really, if you replace the word ‘legends’ for ‘celebrities’!
The other name for ‘Lavender’s Blue’ is ‘The Kind Country Lovers’. Although there are many different versions, with nearly thirty verses in existence in one combination or another, the crux of the original version was a celebration of drinking and some lyrical persuasion to get a girl to go for a ‘roll in the hay’. So to speak!
So, a catchy, melodic little ditty with a more interesting history than the innocent sing-song nursery rhyme version it eventually morphed into might have you believe. More than that, as I sit here bursting into occasional song as I type (I did say I thought it was catchy!), the lavender references are a lovely reminder. Recent summer memories of sitting with a cold glass of something delicious in the late evening sun in my mum’s garden, watching the bees drowsily buzzing around the lavender. It doesn’t get much better than that.