Down in the Willow garden
Where me and my love did meet
As we sat a-courtin'
My love fell off to sleep
I had a bottle of Burgundy wine
My love she did not know
So I poisoned that dear little girl
On the banks below
He met his love in the willow garden. They were talking and she fell asleep. He had a bottle and wine that the girl did not know about. He poisoned her.
I drew a sabre through her
It was a bloody knife
I threw her in the river
Which was a dreadful sign
My father often told me
That money would set me free
If I would murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connolly
He stabbed her and threw her in the river. It was a terrible thing to see. His father told him he would pay to set him free if he killed Rose Connolly.
My father sits at his cabin door
Wiping his tear-dimmed eyes
For his only son soon shall walk
To yonder scaffold high
My race is run, beneath the sun
The scaffold now waits for me
For I did murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connelly
His father his sitting in his cabin crying. His only son is about to by hanged for murder. He lived his life now it is about to be over for murdering the girl Rose Connelly.
The overall theme of this ballad is murder does not solve problems. The song is sung from the murder's point of view. It is thought that that girl was pregnant and the father did not want her to have the child so he wanted his son to kill her. The son and father end up regretting their decisions.
The song uses poetic devices such as rhyming, imagery, and metaphor. The ballad has the rhyme scheme ABAB. This can be seen in every other line in each stanza. Imagery can be seen in the second stanza in the lines "I drew a saber through her It was a bloody knife I threw her in the river". This creates an image of the man killing the girl. In the last stanza a metaphor is used to compare his life and death to him running a race in the lines "My race is run, beneath the sun, The scaffold now waits for me".