“Gentle Annie”

Author: Stephen C. Foster
Earliest date: 1856 (sheet music)
Keywords: love separation farewell farming warning
Found in: US(So) Australia

Description

The singer reports that it is harvest time, and soon he will be traveling on. He bids farewell to "gentle Annie," the daughter of the farm. He offers her various warnings

Supplemental text

Gentle Annie
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From sheet music published 1856 by Firth, Pond & Co.
Title page inscribed
           FOSTER'S MELODIES
                 No. 31
              GENTLE ANNIE
                 Ballad
         WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY
            STEPHEN C. FOSTER

Thou wilt come no more, gentle Annie,
Like a flower thy spirit did depart;
Thou art gone, alas! like the many
That have bloomed in the summer of my heart.

  Shall we never more behold thee;
  Never hear thy winning voice again
  When the Springtime comes, gentle Annie,
  When the wild flowers are scattered o'er the plain?

We have roamed and loved mid the bowers
When thy downy cheeks were in their bloom;
Now I stand alone mid the flowers
While they mingle their perfumes o'er thy tomb.

Ah! the hours grow sad while I ponder
Near the silent spot where thou art laid,
And my heart bows down when I wander
By the streams and meadows where we strayed.

Notes

Stephen Foster's original version is said to be based on Annie Laurie, and is mostly a lyric (a lament for a dead girl: "Thou wilt come no more, Gentle Annie, Like a flower thy spirit did depart; Though art gone, alas! like the many That have bloomed in the summer of my heart"). I's been said that it was inspired by his grandmother, Annie Pratt McGinnis Hart.

The song, however, has evolved heavily, presumably because the tune is strong but the lyrics banal. The Australian version (the one you may know from the singing of Ed Trickett), in particular, is heavily localized, and has become a near-ballad of a migrant worker bidding farewell to the (young?) daughter of the household.

Properly, the two should be split, but given the limited circulation of each in tradition, I decided not to bother. - RBW

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Randolph 701, "Gentle Annie" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
  2. Saunders/Root-Foster 2, pp. 7-10+417, "Gentle Annie" (1 text, 1 tune); pp. 18-21+419, "Gentle Annie for the Guitar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. DT, GENTLANN
  4. ST R701 (Full)
  5. Roud #2656
  6. BI, R701