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GUEST,Donal Lyr Req: Man from the Mountains/Sive (12) RE: Lyr Req: Man from the Mountains/Sive 23 Dec 11


I was sure that I had posted this before but I can't find it, perhaps the memory is going.


Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
Of the maiden who was known to me as Sive.
She was young and sweet and fair, but that house was sad and bare,
Her marriage to an old man was contrived.

Oh, Mike Glavin you're the man, you was always in the van,
With an open door to all men and gorsoons.
May white snuff be at your wake, baker's bread and currant cake,
And the plenty of your table late and soon.

On the road from Abbeyfeale, sure I met a man with meal,
"Come here," says he, "and pass your idle time."
On me he made quite bold, saying "the young will wed the old,
And the old man have money for the child."

May his eyes grow dim and red, may the hair fall off his head,
May his fortune vanish with the waning moon.
He's as greedy as a shark, or a vixen in the dark,
The black man from the mountain, Seanin Rua.

May his hens refuse to lay, may the rain destroy his hay,
That whining amadan, that big bosthoon.
May his face grow grey and old, and his blood run thin and cold,
That black man from the mountain, Seanin Rua.


1. Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
Of a maiden who was known to me as Sive.
She was young and she was fair, but that house of dark despair,
A marriage for the maiden did contrive.

2. On the road from Abbeyfeale, sure I met a man with meal,
"Come here," says he, "and pass your idle time."
On me he made quite bold, saying "the young will wed the old,
And the old man have the money for the child."

3. May his hens lay clods and stones, may the east wind plague his bones,
May warts and welts waylay him by the score,
I do swear upon this verse, he'll be travelling soon by hearse,
And we'll never see Sean Dota anymore.

Spoken: 1
Now the tinker's son came in, to that house of want and sin.
The father Pat Bocock smote on the floor,
Saying, "Carthalawn my blade, let a noble song be made
Bringing plenty on this house for ever more."

4. Oh, Mike Glavin you're the man, you was always in the van,
With an open door for oul lad and gorsoon.
Let good snuff be at your wake, baker's bread and curranty cake,
And the plenty on your table late and soon.

Spoken: 2
Then Seaneen Rua, the liar, sat down beside the fire,
And he matched the fair young maid that very night,
Pat Bocock did scorn that quest, sayin' "sing your almighty best,"
And the song of Carthalawn was like the blight.

5. May the snails devour his corpse, may the rains do harm worse,
May the Devil take the hairy creature soon,
He's as greedy as a sow, as the crow behind the plough,
The black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

6. May he screech with awful thirst, may his brains and eyeballs burst,
That melted amadan, that big bosthoon,
May the fleas eat up his bed, may the mange consume his head,
The black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

7. May the hair inside his nose curl down around his toes,
May the spittle in his gob turn into glue,
May the sight go from his eyes, and his oul man cease to rise.
The black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

Spoken: 3
But that lovely maid took flight, like a wild bird in the night,
The waters washed her sweet young body o'er.
And her lover found her there and he stacked her golden hair,
And he laid her on that dark and dismal shore,
Then up spoke Pat Bocock, and his voice was sad with shock,
And his face was grey as winter as he cried,
Saying, "Carthalawn my gem, let you sing a mournful hymn,
All of the day and of the one who died."

8. Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
Of a maiden fair who died this day,
Oh, they murdered lovely Sive, cause she would not be a bride,
And they left her for to bury in the clay.

James N. Healy: The Second Book of Irish Ballads - Cork 1962

Here is a song, written within the last five years, which has the true spirit of the Irish ballad. Why should only traditional ballads be included in collections? - all ballads were originally written by someone, even tho' the authors of many of the best from the 19th century have never been recorded: but, above all, ballads were made to be sung. John B's ballad from the play Sive swept the country when it was first heard in 1959. In addition the lyric has real literary quality. This is the longer version; which Keane wrote specially; not all the words are used in the play.

Sung: 1. Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
Of a maiden who was known to me as Sive.
She was young and sweet and fair, but that household sad and bare,
Her marriage to an old man would contrive.

Spoken: 1.
Now the tinker's son came in, to that house of want and sin.
And his father Pat Bocock smote on the floor,
Saying, 'Carthalawn my blade, let a noble song be made,
Bringing plenty on this house for ever more.'

Sung: 2. Oh, Mike Glavin you're the man, you was always in the van,
With an open door to oul man and gorsoon.
May white snuff be at your wake, baker's bread and curranty cake,
And the plenty on your table late and soon.

Spoken: 2.
But they scorned the tinker's son, when his song of praise was done,
And his father Pat Bocock smote on the floor,
Saying, 'Carthalawn my jewel, let a song both wild and cruel
Settle down upon this house for evermore.

Sung: 3. On the road from Abbeyfeale, sure I met a man with meal,
'Come here,' says he, 'and pass your idle time.'
On me he made quite bold, saying 'the young will wed the old,
And the old man have the money for the child.'

Spoken: 3.
Now Seaneen Rua, the liar, was sat down 'longside the fire,
And he sold the girl Sive that very night,
Pat Bocock made on his quest, saying 'sing your mighty best,'
And the song of Carthalawn was like the blight.

Sung: 4. May the snails devour his corpse, and the rains do harm worse,
May the Devil sweep the hairy creature soon,
He's as greedy as a sow, as the crow behind the plough,
The black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

Sung: 5. May his brains and eyeballs burst, may he screech with awful thirst,
That melted amadan, that big bosthoon,
May the fleas eat up his bed, and the mange consume his head,
The black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

Spoken: 5
But the bonny Sive took flight, like a wild bird in the night,
And the waters washed her small white body o'er.
And her true love found her there and he stacked her golden hair,
And he laid her on that dark and dismal shore,
Then outspoke bold Pat Bocock, and his voice was sad with shock,
And his face was grey as winter as he cried,
He said, 'Carthalawn my gem, let you make an awful hymn,
All of this day and of the one who died.'

Sung: 6. Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
Of a maiden fair who died this day,
Oh, they drownded lovely Sive, for she would not be a bride,
And they laid her dead for to bury in the clay.

From the play text.

Oh, Mike Glavin you're the man, you was always in the van,
With a dacent house to old man and gorsoon.
May white snuff be at your wake, baker's bread and currant cake,
And the plenty of your table late and soon.

May the snails devour his corpse, and the rain do harm and worse,
May the Devil sweep the hairy creature soon,
He's as greedy as a sow, as the crow behind the plough,
That black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

On the road from Abbeyfeale, sure I met a man with meal,
"Come here," says he, "and pass your idle time."
On me he made quite bold, saying "the young will wed the old,
And the old man have money for the child."

Come now, listen while I sing, to the blessing that I bring,
To the bridegroom and his lovely bride so fair,
May they dwell in wedded joy, may they ever hear the cry,
Of a new, big, bouncing baby every year.

May he screech with awful thirst, may his brains and eyeballs burst,
That melted amadan, that big bosthoon,
May the fleas consume his bed, and the mange eat up his head,
That black man from the mountain, Seaneen Rua.

May his hens lay clods and stones, may the east wind blight his bones,
May warts and welts waylay him by the score,
Now I swear upon this verse, he'll be travelling soon by hearse,
And we'll never se Sean Dota anymore.

Oh, come all good men and true, a sad tale I'll tell to you,
All of a maiden fair who died this day,
Oh, they drowned lovely Sive, she would not be a bride,
And they laid her dead, to bury in the clay.

Sive - John B. Keane

Listowel, County Kerry, February 2 1959: The Listowel Drama Group presents the first production of local publican and playwright John B. Keane's Sive. It is a hard-hitting naturalistic drama, set in a country cottage shared by three generations of the Glavin family. The youngest, Sive, is a beautiful schoolgirl, a prime example of the bright potential of the new Ireland. Though she is the illegitimate daughter of two dead parents, she is educated, intelligent, warm, and forward-looking. Her uncle Mike is a no-nonsense farmer who works all day digging turf and brings home the cash to his hard-bitten wife Mena. Mena is frustrated. She feels slighted by the presence of Sive, whom she sees as a useless freeloader and an affront to her experience of a woman's role in rural Irish life. Mena is also antagonized by Nanna, Sive's pipe-smoking grandmother who bemoans the lack of children for her to care for in her frail dotage and blames Mena for not producing. The plot kicks in with the arrival of seedy matchmaker Thomasheen Seán Rua, who comes with a proposal from elderly farmer Seán Dóta. Dóta has become entranced by the youthful energy and beauty of Sive, and offers two hundred pounds to Mena plus and a hundred to Thomasheen if a match can be arranged. Sive, who is in love with local boy Liam Scuab, is not pleased with the idea, but through a combination of bullying and psychological manipulation by Mena, she eventually acquiesces, all but breaking her spirit. The final act offers a glimmer of hope as an elopement is proposed through intermediaries including two wandering tinkers, but in this dark, oppressive, world where modern greed and ancient tradition conspire to destroy all hope of a progressive future, the outcome is never in doubt. The Ireland into which Sive was initially produced was itself a site of contestation between social and economic policies which were set to transform it from a pre-modern to a modern society and older, more atavistic forces bound by custom and obedience. The play was actually rejected by the Abbey for production on the professional stage, and thus began its life on the amateur circuit, where it toured to massive success and near-rioting in some places as audiences scrabbled to get tickets. Keane's scandalous, sexually-charged world where a beautiful young girl was essentially being "sold like an animal" to a grasping old man was at once familiar, and yet dramatically exaggerated. Keane, an avowed observer of real human lives, had a seemingly natural ability to combine realism and drama on a level equivalent with any of the masters of modern European theatre.

Plot Summary

The story is centered on a young eighteen year old girl called Sive who is illegitimate. She lives with her uncle Mike, his wife Mena and Nanna who is Mike's mother. A local matchmaker Thomasheen Sean Rua decides that Sive should marry an old man called Sean Dota. Sean is rich but old and haggard. Thamasheen convinces Mike and Mena to organize the marriage of Sive to Sean Dota. They will receive a sum of two hundred pounds as soon as she marries him.

Sive however is in love with a young man by the name of Liam Scuab. Liam however is not suitable as he is related to the man who abandoned Sive's mother when he realized that she was pregnant. Mike refuses permission for Liam to marry Sive on this account.

Sive is distraught but is forced to do the will of her uncle and his wife. Nanna does not approve and would prefer her to marry Liam. Two local tinkers by the name of Pats and his son Carthalawn connive together and decide to help her escape from Sean Dota and marry Liam. The plot fails however as Thomasheen discovers the letter and destroys it. On the night before her marriage Sive disappears and shortly afterwards her body is discovered in a bog hole. Liam finds the body and carries it in to the house announcing to Mena and her husband that they are responsible for her death. As Liam cries over the dead body Sean Dota and Thomasheen both leave the room. The play concludes with Pats and his son singing about a maiden who was drowned as she would not be a bride.

Genre

There are two different versions of 'Sive' -a two Act and a three Act play. The time span is roughly about three weeks in total. The dialogue in the play is filled with conflict and realism.

Cultural Context/Social Setting

The background of this play is Ireland in the fifties. It is a time of harsh poverty and people are measured in terms of the land and the crops they possess. There are many references to the fear of the poorhouse and the rough reality of poverty. Marriage and love are both seen in pragmatic terms in relation to the amount of possessions a person has. It is a time when matchmakers were popular and local trades flourished. The land is an important feature of the play.

General Vision or Viewpoint

The general vision or viewpoint of this play is somber and tragic. It seems inevitable from the outset that Sive will be forced to marry a man she does not love and who is years older than her. The overall impression of people reflected in the play is negative. Most of the main characters seem to spend their time exploiting others and simply using them to serve their own self-interest.

Theme or Issue

Love/Marriage In this play love and marriage are treated very negatively. Thomasheen who is supposed to be the local matchmaker and bring together people who love one another in marriage queries cynically to Mena 'what business have the likes of us with love? The whole notion of love and marriage becomes synonymous with selfishness and self-interest. Mena and Thoasheen are seen as two despicable characters who have no interest in anything else but serving their own interests and pockets. Both are governed by selfishness and see Sive's marriage to Sean Dota in terms of monetary interests and particularly monetary interest which will benefit themselves.

Women are shown to be strong characters but they are also shown in a negative light throughout the story. Both Mena and Nanna fight and insult one another in an abusive manner and both are seen to be embittered people in different ways. Nanna despises the fact that Mena has no children, while Mena sees the presence of Nanna in the house asæ a continuous source of irritation. Sive on the other hand is seen as a victim of the selfishness and self-interest of the people who should be helping her in life. At the conclusion in her tragic death we see the destruction of a beautiful young woman through the greed of other people.

Money/Poverty The question of money dominates almost every line of this play. Set against a backdrop of rural Ireland governed by poverty, this play depicts the tragic consequences on people of the need for money. The whole notion of marriage is seen in terms of money and as the character of Mena develops we see that she despises poverty. Sean Dota and Thomasheen the matchmaker turn out to be two despicable people who use money to wield power over people.


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