The Shoemaker's Kiss
was collected in 1906 by D Hammond and published in The Hammond And Gardiner Manuscript which in turn was published by Frank Purslow in his Marrow Bones
. The tune and song were taken down in Wimborn Union, Dorset, from William Bartlett.
This is a nice little ditty about a naive maiden who had never been kissed and had not been taught about the birds and the bees and the facts of life in general by an old woman with whom she lived. In a word, she was green. To be brief, she went to a shoemaker to buy shoes and finished up with a big, bonny son.
In Marrow Bones
, Frank Purslow wrote in 1965 that this song was printed by the Seven Dials song-sheet merchants about 1840, and is probably much older. The refrain "so green as the leaves" is not just word spinning: this imagery is quite common in English folk song, and this is symbolic phrase would have received immediate recognition from the Elizabethans. It was Polonius who said of his daughter, Ophelia, "She is a green girl" (Hamlet). This adjective is still in common use, of course, but has lost much of its original significance.