“You Rambling Boys of Pleasure (Down by Sally's Garden)”


"You rambling boys of pleasure, give ear to those few lines I write. Although I'm a rover, and in roving I take great delight." Singer recounts finding and losing his love, and laments that his roving ways are incompatible with love and home.


There are several examples of this in the Bodleian Library Broadsides Collection, dating from 1802 to 1892. Beginning around 1850 an additional verse began appearing going more or less like." "It was down by the salley gardens...." It is very likely this is the "half-remembered" verse that Yeats used to write "Down by the Sally Gardens." - SL

O'Boyle says that the "down in Sally's Garden" lines are in the first verse of the 1784 American manuscript in the Baker Memorial Library at Hanover, New Hampshire.

Of the Bodleian broadsides, "The Rambling Lover," Harding B 11(3222) c.1850, 2806 c.16(193) c.1850: include the line "Down by yon valley gardens."

Firth c.18(237) n.d., Firth c.18(238) 1850-1899: include the line "Down by yon sally garden."

Harding B 15(250a) 1858-1861, Firth c.18(238) 1850-1899, Harding B 11(34) n.d., Firth c.26(259) n.d.: include the line "It was down by Sally's gardens."

A closely related broadside, Bodleian, Firth c.18(234), "The Rambling Lover" ("Come all you gay and merry friends and stay with me while I do write"), unknown, n.d. includes the line "It was down by a flowery garden."

The one to compare to Yeats' is an unrelated broadside, Bodleian, Harding B 22(262), "Sally's Garden" ("It was down in Sally's garden"), unknown, n.d. It may be the same ballad as the illegible Bodleian, Harding B 25(1724), J.Jennings (London), 1790-1840. - BS

Cross references


  • LOCSinging, sb40467b, "Rambling Boys of Pleasure," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859
  • Bodleian, Harding B 17(250b), "Rambling Boys of Pleasure," J. Evans (London), 1780-1812; also Harding B 11(3222), Harding B 25(1596), Firth b.25(189), Harding B 16(219c), Harding B 15(250a), Firth c.18(237), Firth c.18(238), 2806 c.16(193), Firth c.18(235), Harding B 11(34), Harding B 16(220b), Harding B 20(22), Firth c.26(259), Harding B 28(144), "[The] Rambling Boys of Pleasure"; Johnson Ballads 614, Firth b.25(315), "You Rambling Boys of Pleasure"


  1. Tunney-SongsThunder, pp. 79-81, "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure" (1 text)
  2. OBoyle 22, "Rambling Boys of Pleasure" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Fowke/MacMillan 59, "Down by Sally's Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Creighton-NovaScotia 47, "Rambling Rover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 52, "You Rambling Boys of Pleasure" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Roud #386
  7. BI, FowM059


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1784 (OBoyle)
Found in: Canada(Mar,Ont) Ireland