Aura Lea

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"Aura Lee"
Composer(s)George R. Poulton
Lyricist(s)W. W. Fosdick

"Aura Lea" (sometimes spelled "Aura Lee") is an American Civil War song about a maiden. It was written by W. W. Fosdick (lyrics) and George R. Poulton (music).

The tune is familiar to modern audiences from the 1956 Elvis Presley #1 hit "Love Me Tender" with new lyrics by Ken Darby, a derivative adaptation of the original. A later Presley recording for the film The Trouble with Girls entitled "Violet (Flower of N.Y.U.)" also used the melody of "Aura Lea".

Aura Lea excerpt.png

Cover of Confederate version (1864)


The lyrics as written by Fosdick:

When the blackbird in the Spring,
On the willow tree,
Sat and rocked, I heard him sing,
Singing Aura Lea.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born,
Music, when you spake,
Through thine azure eye the morn,
Sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Birds of crimson wing,
Never song have sung to me,
As in that sweet spring.

Aura Lea! the bird may flee,
The willow's golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully,
On the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
Gloom will soon depart;
For to me, sweet Aura Lea
Is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green,
Midst the winter's snows,
Sunshine in thy face was seen,
Kissing lips of rose.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Take my golden ring;
Love and light return with thee,
And swallows with the spring.

In popular culture[edit]

"Aura Lee" was sung by Frances Farmer and a male chorus in the 1936 film Come and Get It, based on Edna Ferber's novel.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album Join Bing and Sing Along (1959)

Diana Muldaur sings the song to David Carradine in the episode "The Elixir" of Kung Fu.

Jerry Lanning performed the song in "Big Star", a 1962 episode of The Donna Reed Show.

The television cavalry comedy F Troop used a variation of the song to welcome saloon singer Laura Lee in the episode "She's Only a Build in a Girdled Cage" (cf. "She's only a bird in a gilded cage").

The television western The Young Riders used the song in its series finale, which took place in 1861 and showed how the American Civil War was affecting its characters' lives.

It is the running theme music in the background of the 1954 John Ford film The Long Gray Line.

Allan Sherman topicalized the song with this polio-based version:

Every time you take vaccine, take it orally [a pun on "Aura Lea"]
As you know the other way is more painfully![citation needed]

An episode of The Rockford Files called "Aura Lee Farewell". However the few lyrics that are recited are actually from the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe.


The 1983 film Trading Places includes Ivy League stockbrokers at their racquet club singing a sexualized parody of this song about their college days and their fraternity's conquest of various women on locations at campus, with the refrain changed to "Constance Frye." The television show How I Met Your Mother 2009 episode (season 5 episode 22) "Robots Versus Wrestlers" features Ted Mosby at an upper-class party singing the Trading Places "Constance Frye" version along with film director Peter Bogdanovich and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz.

In Revenge of the Nerds, Betty Childs and the other girls from her sorority sing a parody (though not the exact tune) to the Tri-Lambs.

The tune is used by the Cartoon Planet Band in the song "I Love Almost Everybody" which was also found on the associated album, Space Ghost's Musical Bar-B-Que.

Sofia Coppola includes the song in the film The Beguiled (2017), in the 59th minute.

Other uses[edit]

There is also a version of "Aura Lea" called "Army Blue" associated with the U.S. Military Academy. In "Army Blue," lyrics specific to the academy, written by George T. Olmstead (an 1865 graduate of the academy), are sung to the original melody.


External links[edit]