The Water is Wide

Niamh Parsons version of The Water is Wide just might be one of my favorites. This is one of those songs that is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget it’s traditional roots.  The first texts that date back to the 1600s and the song has several precursors and cousins, including O Waly, Waly.  Peter Seeger is credited with bringing the song back into popular culture during the Folk Revival.

The Water is Wide

The water is wide, I can’t swim o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

There is a ship and she sails the sea
She sails so deep as deep can be
But not so deep as the love I’m in
I know not how to sink or swim

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it was the strongest tree
But first it bent and then it broke
And that’s the way love treated me

For love is handsome and love is fine
And love’s a jewel when first it’s new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like morning dew

When salt sea turns far inland
And mussels grow on every tree
When cockle shells make Christmas bells
Then would I lose my love for thee

The water is wide, I can’t swim o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

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