“Widow Machree (II)”


"Widow Machree, it's no wonder you frown," your black gown is unbecoming. Summer is coming and birds and rabbits all go in pairs.In winter it would be a sin to be cold and alone. "Take my advice ... take me"


This "Widow Machree" is attributed to Samuel Lover at the Bartleby.com site. The Samuel Lover and Charles Lever "Widow Machree" ["Widow Machree (I)"] are not the same song: they share rhyme scheme, verse structure and theme, but no verses. Which is derived from the other?

_Handy Andy_ is a novel Samuel Lover published in 1842. Lover's novel has ballads and poems scattered throughout. The context for "Widow Machree" in the novel is that it is a supposedly well known song called for by a company of listeners. Lover does not claim authorship for a character in the novel as he does for some other _Handy Andy_ poems. Is Lover including a ballad already in circulation? He seems to be doing just that with his fragment of "Ma Colleen Dhas Crutheen na Mbho" ("The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow") in the 1836 novel _Rory O'More_. - BS

We note the existence of at least one broadside which appears to be older than _Handy Andy_; is it possible that Lever and Lover both worked from some earlier piece? Alternately, did Lover publish the song before writing _Handy Andy_, and then incorporate it into his own work to promote/celebrate its popularity? - RBW


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(4195), "Widow Machre" ("Widow Mackree it's no wonder you frown ..."), Birt (London), 1833-1841; also 2806 b.11(125), Harding B 11(4194), Harding B 11(4196), "Widow Machree"
  • LOCSinging, cw106740, "Widow Machree" ("Widow Machree, it's no wonder you frown"), George S. Harris (Philadelphia), 19C; also as115000, "Widow Machree"


Author: probably Samuel Lover (1797-1868)
Earliest date: before 1842 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(4195)); 1842 (Samuel Lover's novel "Handy Andy")