As a parlor tune, the piece went back at least to 1859, as Maud Irving's "I'll Twine Midst the Ringlets" music historian Charles Wolfe hears "The Pale Amaryllis" entangled in it as well.
Autoharpist Sara Carter sang lead when the Carter Family made "Wildwood Flower" the #3 hit in the nation in 1928...
Greil Marcus, Invisible Republic -- Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, New York, NY, 1997, p. 262.
ORIGINAL CARTER FAMILY RECORDING: RCA Victor Studios, Camden, NJ,
May 10, 1928 (45029-1; issued as Vi V-40000).
MAYBELLE CARTER: The first time I heard this song, I was just a kid. My mother sang it and her mother sang it. It has been handed down for years and years. It's the most popular song, we ever recorded, and there's hardly a country group who doesn't use this song.
Dorothy Horstman interview, Nashville, TN, 6 Sep 1973, reprinted in Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy, New York, 1976, pp. 201-202.
Lyrics as reprinted ibid., p. 202.
Oh, I'll twine with my mingles and waving black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the myrtles so bright with emerald dew
The pale and the leader and eyes look like blue.
Oh, I'll dance, I will sing and my laugh shall be gay
I will charm ev'ry heart, in his crown I will sway
When I woke from my dreaming, idols were clay
All portions of love then had all flown away.
Oh, he taught me to love him and promised to love
And to cherish me over all others above
How my heart now is wond'ring misery can tell
He's left me no warning, no words of farewell.
Oh, he taught me to love him and called me his flow'r
That was blooming to cheer him through life's dreary hour
Oh, I'm longing to see him through life's dark hour
He's gone and neglected this pale wildwood flower.
I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of my raven black hair
The lilies so pale and the roses so fair
The myrtle so bright with an emeral hue
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue.
I'll sing and I'll dance, my laugh shall be gay
I'll cease this wild weeping, drive sorrow away.
Tho' my heart is now breaking, he never shall know
That his name made me tremble and my pale cheeks to glow.
I'll think of him never, I'll be wildly gay
I'll charm ev'ry heart, and the crowd I will sway.
I'll live yet to see him regret the dark hour
When he won, then neglected, the frail wildwood flower.
He told me he loved me, and promis'd to love
Trough ill and misfortune, all others above
Another has won him; ah, misery to tell
He left me in silence, no word of farewell.
He taught me to love him, he call'd me his flower
That blossom'd for him all the brighter each hour
But I woke from my dreaming, my idol was clay
My visions of love have all faded away.