Mudcat Café message #3944731 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3944731
Posted By: Jim Carroll
18-Aug-18 - 03:56 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Sorry about the last night's late-night typos there - Vic can sort them out
As some of you know, I have been involved in a project gathering Irish versions of Child ballads taken from the oral tradition
So far, I have access to well over 100 ballads and versions, all taken from country singers - so many in fact that I an now serously considering tring to get them published as a collection
If that is not proof that they went into the oral tradition, my Jacks a kipper
Below are two I am hoping to find tunes for - one gathered on the Wexford Coast in the 1940s, the other taken down from the singing of a servant woman at a wake in Wexford about fifteen years after the end of The Famine - more evidence that the ballads made it into the oral tradition
Jim

Fair Eleanor. (Fair Annie Child 62)

“Come, comb your head, Fair Eleanor
And comb it on your knee,
And that you may look maiden-like
Till my return to thee.’

“‘Tis hard for me to look maiden-like,
When maiden I am none :
Seven fair sons I’ve borne to thee,
And the eighth lies in my womb.’

‘Seven long years were past and gone ;
Fair Eleanor thought it long.
She went up into her bower,
With her silver cane in hand.

"She looked far, she looked near,
She looked upon the strand ;
And it’s there she spied King William a-coming,
And his new bride by the hand.

“She then called up her seven sons,
By one, by two, by three;
“I wish that you were seven greyhounds,
This night to worry me! ’

“Oh, say not so our mother dear,
But put on your golden pall,
And go and throw open your wide, wide gates,
And welcome the nobles all”

“ So she threw off her gown of green ;
She put on her golden pall,
She went and threw open her wide, wide gates,
And welcomed the nobles all.

“‘Oh, welcome, lady fair” she said ;
‘You’re welcome to your own ;
And welcome be these nobles all
That come to wait on you home.’

“Oh, thankee, thankee, Fair Eleanor !
And many thanks to thee;
And if in this bower I do remain,
Great gifts I’ll bestow on thee.’

“She served them up, she served them down,
She served them all with wine,
But still she drank of the clear spring water,
To keep her colour fine.

“She served them up, she served them down,
She served them in the hall,
But still she wiped off the salt, salt tears,
As they from her did fall.

“Well bespoke the bride so gay,
As she sat in bar chair—
‘And tell to me, King William,’ she said,
‘Who is this maid so fair ?

“‘la she of your kith, ’ she said,
‘ Or is she of your kin,
Or is she your comely housekeeper
That walks both out and in 1 ’

“‘She is not of my kith,’ he said,
Nor is she of my kin ;
But she is my comely housekeeper
That walks both out and in.’

Who then was your father,’ she said,
Or who then was your mother ?
Had you any sister dear,
Or had you any brother“

“‘King Henry was my father,’ she said,
Queen Margaret was my mother,
Matilda was my sister dear,
Lord Thomas was my brother.’

'King Henry was your father,’ she said,
Queen Margaret, your mother,
I am your only sister dear,
And here’s Lord Thomas, our brother.

“'Seven lofty ships I have at sea,
All filled with beaten gold ;
Six of them I’ll leave with thee,
The seventh will bear me home.’ ”

This text was in included in Patrick Kennedy’s Banks of the Borough, (Dublin 1875), where he describes his hearing it sung at a Wake in Wexford.

“Mr. Redmond, having now a right to call, summoned Joanna, the servant maid,before mentioned, to show what she could do. Joanna, though very ready with her tongue at home, was at heart a modest girl, and fought hard to be let off. But one pro¬tested that she was a good singer, in right of a lark’s heel she had (this was not the case, Joanna had a neat foot) ; another, that she was learned to sing by note when Tench, the dancing-master made his last round through the country; another, that he heard herself and a young kid sing verse about one day when nobody was within hearing. So poor Joan, to get rid of the torment, asked what sort of song should she sing, and a dozen voices requested a love song about murder. So after looking down, with a blush¬ing face, for a while, she began with an unsteady voice, but she was soon under the influence of the subject-lay, and sung with a sweet voice one of these old English ballads, which we heard for the first time from a young woman of the Barony of Bargy, in the south.
There is one on the same subject in some collection which we cannot at this moment particularize; but the Wex¬ford vocalists never got their copy from a printed book. Joanna’s version is evidently a faulty one. It has suffered from transmission through generations of negligent vocal¬ists. It is not an easy matter to tag the subject on to any decided point in the reigns of the kings of England.
“There is one on the same subject in some collection which we cannot at this moment particularize, but the Wex¬ford vocalists never got their copy from a printed book. Joanna’s version is evidently a faulty one. It has suffered from transmission through generations of negligent vocalists. It is not an easy matter to tag the subject on to any decided point in the reigns of the kings of England.”

Captain Ward and the Rainbow (Saucy Ward) Child 287
Come all you valiant heroes, you heroes stout and bold:
I’ll tell you of a rover who all the seas controlled.
I’ll tell you of a rover who seldom did appear,
And no one such a rover met this many a day and year.

He wrote our queen a letter on the seventh of January,
To know if he’d go over Ould England for to see;
To know if he’d go over. Ould England to behold,
And for his pardon he would give five hundred tons of gold.

“Oh nay, Oh nay,” our queen replied, “sure that could never be;
To yield to such a rover with me would never agree.
Since he deceived the Queen o’Scots, likewide the Queen o’ Spain,
Oh, how could he prove true to me who proved so false to them.”

His daily occupation was to plunder on the sea,
And he met one of the Queen’s fine ships just at the break o’ day.
She was loaded with silk and satin, a cargo of great fame.
He robbed her of her wealth and store and sent her home again.

Our Queen prepared and built a ship, a ship of noble fame,—
The Rainbow did we call her, you all may know her name.
The Rainbow did we call her, and off to sea goes she,
With five hundred seamen stout and bold to be her company.

We sailed away till we sailed to the spot where Saucy Ward did lie.
“Where is the commander of your ship,” our captain he did cry.
“I’m here, I’m here,” cried Saucy Ward, “my name I’ll never deny;
If she be one of the Queen’s fine ships she’s welcome to pass me by.”

“Oh nay, Oh nay,” our captain cried, “it grieves my heart full sore,
To see our merchant ships can’t trade as they have done before.”
“Fight on, fight on!” cried Saucy Ward, “I value you not a pin,
For if you have got men aboard I’ve powder and ball within.”

At eight o’clock in the morning they began this bloody fray:
It held from that very moment until the same hour next day.
“Fight on, fight on!” cried Saucy Ward, “your fighting it pleases me,
For if you fight for a month or more your master I will be.”

At last the good ship Rainbow tacks; she fires and strikes in vain:
Three hundred of her seamen bold dead on her deck were lain.
“Go home, go home,” cried Saucy Ward, “and tell your oul’ queen from me
That if she rules queen of foreign lands, I rule king of the sea.”

Taken down from Tom Maddock, May 31st, 1943. This is a very old English ballad. Cf. “A famous Sea Fight between Captain Ward and the “Rainbow,” in Legendary ballads of England and Scotland. Ed., J. S. Roberts.
In one of the English versions of this ballad there is reference to two of the queen’s sea-captains, Clifford and Essex.
Clifford would be George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, who commanded the “Bonaventure” against the Spanish Armada in 1588, and Essex would be the ill-fated Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, a kinsman of the Devereux family of Ballymagir, Co. Wexford. The queen referred to is Queen Elizabeth, but I have been unable to find out who was the impudent individual with the Irish name.