What Is "O Willow Waly"? The Song In ‘The Haunting Of Bly Manor’ Is Sad

Music didn’t really play a huge part in The Haunting of Hill House, but its follow-up story uses one specific song to really drive home the creepiness of Bly Manor. Throughout the new season, the song "O Willow Waly" is sung or whistled by various characters, and there’s a reason it was included in such a prominent way. If you’re wondering what "O Willow Waly" is in The Haunting of Bly Manor, read on to find out why it was important it be included in the story.

Before the new ghost story was released on Netflix, the first trailer heavily featured "O Willow Waly," signaling the eerie tune would be a big part of the season. Sure enough, the forlorn song is sung, hummed, and whistled throughout Bly Manor, mostly by Flora, Miles, and Peter Quint. The season even opened with the song’s lyrics, as the show’s mysterious narrator recited the chorus while waking up.

The song’s inclusion in Bly Manor is a tribute to the 1961 film The Innocents, which is the most famous adaptation of Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw (until now, I guess). Since Bly Manor is also an adaptation of that short story, it makes sense for the series to nod to past iterations with the film’s standout track, which eerily played on a music box in the movie. "O Willow Waly" was actually created for The Innocents, composed by French musician Georges Auric, written by English screenwriter Paul Dehn, and sung by Scottish folk singer Isla Cameron.

Fittingly, the morbid lyrics about a lost lover work very well with the plot of Bly Manor:

You can listen to the original version of the song that appeared in The Innocents on Spotify.

By the end of Bly Manor, it becomes very clear why this song about a lover mourning their dead partner is the perfect thing to underscore the whole season. Fans probably won’t be too eager to add "O Willow Waly" to any of their pump-up playlists after finishing the show, but there’s no denying how well the chilling, bare-bones tune fits in with the Haunting series’ creepy, heartbreaking vibe.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is on Netflix now.

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