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Where the woodbine twineth

Posted by Bob on February 01, 2006

In Reply to: Where the woodbine twineth posted by Gary Martin 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.

and there's Bobby Burns:
Robert Burns, 1791, 3 versions

Sweet are the banks-the banks o' Doon,
The spreading flowers are fair,
And everything is blythe and glad,
But I am fu' o' care.
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days
When my fause Luve was true:
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

2. Aft hae I rov'd by bonie Doon,
To see the woodbine twine;
And ilka birds sang o' its Luve,
And sae did I o' mine:
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Upon its thorny tree;
But my fause Luver staw my rose
And left the thorn wi' me:
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Upon a morn in June;
And sae I flourished on the morn,
And sae was pu'd or noon!