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A farmer there lived in the north country
A hey ho bonny o
And he had daughters one, two, three
The swans swim so bonny o
These daughters they walked by the river's brim
A hey ho bonny o
The eldest pushed the youngest in
The swans swim so bonny o

Oh sister, oh sister, pray lend me your hand
With a hey ho a bonny o
And I will give you house and land
The swans swim so bonny o
I'll give you neither hand nor glove
With a hey ho a bonny o
Unless you give me your own true love
The swans swim so bonny o

Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam
With a hey ho and a bonny o
Until she came to a miller's dam
The swans swim so bonny o

The miller's daughter, dressed in red
With a hey ho and a bonny o
She went for some water to make some bread
The swans swim so bonny o

Oh father, oh daddy, here swims a swan
With a hey ho and a bonny o
It's very like a gentle woman
The swans swim so bonny o
They placed her on the bank to dry
With a hey ho and a bonny o
There came a harper passing by
The swans swim so bonny o

He made harp pins of her fingers fair
With a hey ho and a bonny o
He made harp strings of her golden hair
The swans swim so bonny ohe made a harp of her breast bone
With a hey ho and a bonny o
And straight it began to play alone
The swans swim so bonny o

He brought it to her father's hall
With a hey ho and a bonny o
And there was the court, assembled all
The swans swim so bonny o
He laid the harp upon a stone
With a hey ho and a bonny o
And straight it began to play lone
The swans swim so bonny o

And there does sit my father the King
With a hey ho and a bonny o
And yonder sits my mother the Queen
The swans swim so bonny o
And there does sit my brother Hugh
With a hey ho and a bonny o
And by him William, sweet and true
The swans swim so bonny o
And there does sit my false sister, Anne
With a hey ho and a bonny o
Who drowned me for the sake of a man
The swans swim so bonny o



Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/l/loreena_mckennitt/the_bonny_swans.html

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  • d
    +1
    djtracidSep 5, 2008 at 1:52 pm
    I believe this comes from an old fable, I had heard the Swan used to be a metaphore for death. So the story runs pretty straight, a jealous sister pushes a younger sister in a river and will not help her unless she leaves her lover. She drowns and becomes a swan - encompassing death, while her sister takes her lover. She floats down the river until she washes up on shore, and is taken by a harp maker to create a beutiful harp out of her remains. Her soul fills the harp and it plays by itself. The harper is so amazed, he wants to show the king. When he brings it before the court, it plays all by itself, and reveals to the court the treachery of her sister, the princess.
    I know most of that probably didn't need to be said - I don't think there is great hidden meaning behind the lyrics, I just love this story and this song so much I had to say something :)

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