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The song's lyrics came from a poem of the same name written by Maud Irving (pseudonynm of J. William Van Namee), with music composed by J.P. Webster. The finished song was published in 1860. It is more well known by a variant called "Wildwood Flower", a 1928 recording by The Carter Family (which A.P. Carter registered as his own work). Other versions of the song have evolved, including "The Pale Amaranthus" (collected in Kentucky and North Carolina, reported in 1911), "Raven Black Hair" and "The Pale Wildwood Flower" (collected 1915–1919), and "The Frail Wildwood Flower".

Original lyrics -
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.
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