My Fair and Tender Ladies
Yesterday I had the good fortune to spend some time with some of the people I love best: My brothers and their families, and my aunt, her daughter, and granddaughter. We missed my sister, who lives in Nashville, but it was good for the rest of us to have the chance to be together again.
When I look at my brothers’ beautiful daughters (there is one other who couldn’t be with us yesterday) my heart is filled with amazement. I cradled each of them as babies. I’ve watched them grow, but also, wrapped up in my own life as my children came along, missed out on a lot. Suddenly, here there are, today, fair and tender ladies.
I’m filled with love for them, and sick with worry, too. What lies ahead for them? Certainly joy, but no doubt heartache, too.
I wish I could protect them from that misery of being heartbroken, feeling cast aside. I can only hope my considerable experience with this sentiment comes in handy should they find themselves mourning lost love, so that I can be some comfort to them.
And I wish I could have had the kind of cherished human love they deserve, so that they would see it is possible. I felt I disappointed them when my marriage ended, but better they should learn to stand up for trueness to self, and hope as I do to find a true love that honors and nurtures who they are rather than demands they hide or change who they are.
This old ballad was born across the pond. It really is the classic mountain ballad. I can taste the bitterness every time I sing it. I don’t really want to warn them off love, and which of us can resist the promising, if ultimately ill-fated, encounter with love? I am no longer young but even I still fall prey to my hopefulness, and like a brown-eyed rabbit am caught in my own lover’s trap time and again.
Hm. On second thought, maybe I’m not the best one to teach them, after all.
So I’ll just love them, and scrutinize every boy that comes along…if my brothers haven’t already finished him off.
Fair And Tender Ladies
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Come all ye fair and tender ladies
Take warning how you court young men
They're like a star on a summer morning
They first appear and then they're gone
They'll tell to you some loving story
And they'll make you think that they love you well
And away they'll go and court some other
And leave you there in grief to dwell
I wish I was on some tall mountain
Where the ivy rocks were black as ink
I'd write a letter to my false true lover
Whose cheeks are like the morning pink
I wish I was a little sparrow
And I had wings to fly so high
I'd fly to the arms of my false true lover
And when he'd ask, I would deny
Oh love is handsome, love is charming
And love is pretty while it's new
But love grows cold as love grows older
And fades away like morning dew