“As Sylvie Was Walking”


Sylvie, walking by the river, weeps for her lover. A young man asks the matter; she tells him that she's been deserted. She says her love will weep for her (after she dies). Astonishingly, the young man is not the departed lover, and nothing else happens.


The song was collected from an 80-year old woman in Australia in 1911. She had emigrated in 1855, and had learned the song in her native Gloucestershire, so [it must have been in existence by 1855]. - PJS

I'm inclined to think that this is a conflate ballad: The opening comes from a Riley ballad, the rest from a lost love song of some kind, with perhaps a little of "Green Grow the Laurel" in the mix to provide floating lyrics. (The Digital Tradition editors file their "Once I Had a Sweetheart" text with "Green Grow," but this is more than a stretch, as is the attribution to D. Adams, since Cynthia Gooding recorded it in 1953!) - RBW


  1. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 14, "As Sylvie Was Walking" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #170
  4. BI, VWL014


Alternate titles: “Once I Had a Sweetheart”; “A Maiden Sat a-Weeping”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1911
Found in: Britain(England (South)) Australia