She Moved Through the Fair

by Padraic Colum and Herbert Hughes

My young love said to me,
My mother won't mind
And my father won't slight you
For your lack of kind.
She stepped away from me
And this she did say,
"It will not be long love
Till our wedding day".

She stepped away from me
And she moved through the fair
And fondly I watched her move here
And move there.
And she went her way homeward
With one star awake,
As the swan in the evening
Moved over the lake.

Last night she came to me,
My young love came in.
So softly she entered,
That her feet made no din.
And she came close beside me
And this she did say,
"It will not be long love
Till our wedding day".

"She Moved Through the Fair" (or "She Moves Through the Fair") is a traditional Irish folk song, which exists in a number of versions and has been recorded many times. The lyrics were first published in Hughes's Irish Country Songs, published by Boosey & Hawkes in 1909. In a letter published in The Irish Times (22 April 1970) Colum claimed that he was the author of all but the final verse. He also described how Herbert Hughes collected the tune and then he, Colum, had kept the last verse of a traditional song and written a couple of verses to fit the music.

One verse was not included in the first publication: Colum soon realised that he had not put in the poem the fact that the woman had died before the marriage, and so he wrote the verse that begins: "The people were saying, that no two were e'er wed, but one had a sorrow that never was said ..." and sent it on to Hughes, too late for publication in that particular collection. This extra verse was subsequently published in other collections, along with the other three verses.