The Month of January
Being born in January, I have always had a great
affection for this song. The way the story is told as
a third party means it can be sung by a man or a
woman and still make sense, and this is a common
device in traditional songs that makes them more
accessible. Learned originally from the singing of
Sarah Makem, I recently augmented it with a verse
from Peter Kennedy's "Folk Songs of Britain & Ireland,"
where it is called “The Forsaken Mother and Child.”
It was in the Month of January, the hills were clad with snow,
And over hills & valleys I carelessly did go.
It was there I spied a fair pretty maid with a salt tear in her eye,
She had a baby in her arms, and bitter she did cry.
O cruel was my father who barred to door on me,
And cruel was my mother this dreadful crime to see,
But cruel was my own true love to change his mind for gold,
And cruel was the bitter wind that pierced my heart with cold.
For the taller that the palm tree grows the sweeter is the bark,
And the fairer that a young man speaks, the falser is his heart,
He will kiss you & embrace you 'til he thinks he has you won,
Then he'll go away & leave you all for some other one.
O hush my little baby boy & lay closer to my breast,
How little does your father know this night we're in distress,
He kissed me & embraced me till he had my favor gained,
Then he went away & left me in sorrow grief & shame.
So come all you pretty fair young maids a warning take by me,
And never try to build your nest on top of a high tree,
For the leaves they will all wither & the branches will decay,
And the beauties of a false young man will all soon fade away.