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Where the woodbine twineth

Posted by Gary Martin on February 01, 2006

In Reply to: Where the woodbine twineth posted by Smokey Stover on February 01, 2006

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "where the woodbine twineth". From my searching so far, it appears to have been a poplular phrase in the 1870's. It is found in Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi". I found it quoted in several old U.S. newspapers and journals as well. There was a popular song by Septimus Winter in 1870. But I suspect the phrase is older than that.

: Many people are familiar with the phrase because it was used as the title of a story by Manly Wade Wellman, which was dramatized for the 77th episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Obviously the phrase is much older, as Twebb-Martin has indicated.
: The name "woodbine" has been given to many vines or climbing plants, including some varieties of honeysuckle. In the U.S. it usually refers to the Virginia creeper. SS

If it sounds old, the Bible and Shakespeare are always worth a look. This is from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream':

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.

Not the exact text and possibly not the origin.
I'm always tempted when finding something in so eary a source as Shakespeare to think of it as the origin. That's quite often not the case though.