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Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself." The "old song" may have been the ballad The Rambling Boys of Pleasure which contains the following verse:
"Down by yon flowery garden my love and I we first did meet
I took her in my arms and to her I gave kisses sweet
She bade me take life easy just as the leaves fall from the tree
But I being young and foolish, with my darling did not agree."
The similarity to the first verse of the Yeats version is unmistakable and would suggest that this was indeed the song Yeats remembered the old woman singing. The rest of the song, however, is quite different.
Yeats's original title, "An Old Song Re-Sung", reflected his debt to The Rambling Boys of Pleasure. It first appeared under its present title when it was reprinted in Poems in 1895.
****REVISED March 9, 2019 - SR****