Little Harvest Rose (The)
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LITTLE HARVEST ROSE, THE (Ros beag an fogmair). AKA – "Fomhar Rósin." AKA and see "Morning of Life (The)." Irish, Air or Planxty (4/4 time). F Major (Bunting, Haverty, MacLean, O'Neill): B Flat Major (Clinton). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The composition is included in a section of tunes credited to blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1678–1736) by O'Neill (as both "Little Harvest Rose" and "Morning of Life (The)"), however, it does not appear in Donal O'Sullivan's seminal 1958 volume on the bard, and its attribution to the harper is highly questionable. Thomas Moore's song "In the Morning of Life" (Irish Melodies, vol. 6) is set to this tune, as is "Go Edmund join the martial throng", from Smollet Holden's Holden's collection of the most esteem'd old Irish melodies (c. 1808). A song by the title "Little Harvest Rose", dated c. 1745, appears in Patrick Joseph McCall's 1894 collection of folksongs Irish nóiníns (daisies). It begins:
There's a ripple in the waters of our four wide seas;
There's a murmur on the mountains, like at dawning hour;
There's a whisper 'mong the ash trees, as they shake their keys,
And a thrill stirs all the sleepin gland with wond'rous power.
For, the sowing time is coming, with its lingering days,
When the fields no longer slumber 'neath the winter snows,
When we'll plant the Tree of Liberty, 'mid hymns of praise,
And greet, again, our long-lost, little Harvest Rose!
William and Robert Chambers, in their Chambers's Edinburgh Journal (vol. 3, 1845, p. 412) relate the cautionary folklore that accompanies it:
The heroine, 'having wearied herself by gathering flowers, fell asleep; and, behold! the month was changed from sunny June to weeping April: and a mysterious hand held forth to her a tender rose-bud, and a voice whispered in her ear, "It is love!" and the half-blown flower looked so charming, with little globules of dew looking from each fragment of moss, that she longed to take it and place it in her bosom; and so she was about to do, when the fairy who had presided at her birth sprang between her and the proffered gift, exclaiming, "Touch it not, darling of my heart; it is too weak to enjoy a long life; and if you watch, and have patience for a minute, you will see it fade and wither; young love is never lasting." And she took the advice of her fairy god-mother; and truly the the rose faded and died before her eyes. And again she slept—and it seemed to her that the same hand presented to her another rose—a full-blown flower, of splendid dye, but small fragrance; and the same voice whispered, "It is Love" and her fancy inclined her to take ti; but again the fairy (and, be it remembered, that as an Irish fairy may be supposed to do, she spoke warmly, and mingled Irish and English together) interposed and said, "Jewel, avourneed, deelish! touch it not—it's forced by the sun into unnatural life, without a morsel of rale love in its heart for anything but itself; so let it along—a false love would wither up your young pulse, and no blossom, jewel, is fragrant that hasn't been steeped in showers." The amiden turned from the rose, though she began to apprehend that the fairy was singularly difficult to please; fearing that her youth would fade, and she should have no true love of her own wherewith to pass her life, and end her days, she thought she would sleep as often as she could on the seat of dreams; and she repaired thither frequently; but sleep did not come at her desire for many weary hours; yet at last, as the evening sun was setting, she fell into a deep sweet slumber, that pressed upon her eyelids as softly as the leaves that shade, without crushing the blossoms of the purple violet. And again the hand came forth, and presented to her a rose and again the voice whispered, "It is love!" and though the rose was not delicate, like the first, nor large blossomed, like the second, its petals were full of the richest perfume, and bowed beneath a weight of dew; and the fairy appeared as before and said, "You've waited through wisdom, and your wisdom is crowned. The rose did not come forth until strength was given it for long life; nor was it forced into blossom by the art of man; but has been perfected by nature. Take it, avourneen!—let it be your love; it has bone through the rain of spring and the heat of summer—take it, and keep it; the clouds and mists that others cannot endure, increase the beauty and fragrance of the Little Harvest Rose."
Source for notated version:
Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland, vol. 1), 1796; No. 43, p. 24.
Clinton (Gems of Ireland), 1841; No. 173, p. 89.
P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs, vol. 2), 1858; No. 170, p. 77.
MacLean (The Amateur's Companion), c. 1810–15; No. 13.
O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 232.
O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 646, p. 116.
Recorded sources: Columbia 33491-F (78 RPM), John Griffin (the Fifth Avenue bus man) (1931).