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Sally Gardens (G)

Willow Garden

A Willow Garden

This is a lively reel at sessions when it’s played, but you might find that it’s thought to be somewhat threadbare at some sessions. Sometimes it’s good to shelve a tune for a while to give it time to re-germinate.  Anyway our tune here bears no relation to the William Butler Yeats poem, or to the song “Down by the Sally Gardens,” except for the phrase “sally gardens.”  That phrase refers to a willow garden — i.e., Lat. -Salix; Gaelic – Sailleach.  A person, group, or town might keep a sally copse for medicinal purposes, as acetylsalicylic acid is a pain reliever, it would also be kept as a source for sallows and osiers for making wicker baskets, furniture, and other household items. Due to density, making for many places of seclusion, it provided spaces away from social observation, the sort of space that Nathaniel Hawthorne elevated to a character in his works. It became a very convenient place for lovers to meet, as the excuse of a headache — which would later play the opposite role in popular culture in the 1950s and 60s — provided an unassailable reason to slip off to a tryst.  The idea of a “sally silva” or “willow bosk,” and later of what came to be called “public gardens” eventually became a metaphor for any object of desire.  There are many romantic depictions that call on these ideas, such as Édouard Manet’s 1863 “The Luncheon on the Grass” (i.e., “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe”).  In addition, the name “Sally” is derived from the same source, and so was once thought of as a pretty sexy name.  Today we’re so used to it that there are almost no traces of this social history to be found.

For the ABC click

Sally Gardens,

Sally Gardens, med tempo (fiddle, Glen Pekin)

Sally Gardens, the dots


One Comment

  • Posted October 25, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    As with Yeats, suggest the better spelling is Salley.

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