The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82243   Message #1546786
Posted By: Liam's Brother
21-Aug-05 - 09:35 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
Subject: Lyr Add: NAPOLEON'S RETREAT (from Hanford Hayes)
I note that Frank Harte died on June 27th, 2005, just a few days after this thread was started.

When the idea behind "Irish Songs from Old New England" migrated to having thirteen guest singers, I sent Frank two songs with the idea that he would choose between them. I was pretty sure which one he would want to record. The other was a fine, humorous vaudeville song. Having already made a double album of Buonaparte ballads, Frank, of course, went for "Napoleon's Retreat."

He was a singer who personalized many of his songs in the sense that he wanted a good, coherent text that he was comfortable with and he didn't mind collating versions or altering words and lines. This is Hanford Hayes' text, the one Frank worked from.   

You ancient sons of glory are all great men, they say,
Whilst we in future story may join as well as they.
Our noble fathers' ancient sons have conquered many's the foe.
As long as fame their names proclaim who fought on Waterloo.

It was on June the eighteenth day, eighteen hundred and fifteen.
With horse and foot we did advance most glorious to be seen.
With horse and foot we did advance while the bugles loud they blew.
We showed the French at Waterloo what Britain's sons could do.

Our cavalry advancing with a bold and a galliant heart,
Our infantry, artillery so nobly played their part,
Our small guns they did rattle, our great guns they did roar,
All on the plains of Waterloo where the murdering cannons roar.

Here is to Sir William Ponceby I am sorry for to say.
In leading his Enniskillen dragoons he met his fate that day.
At the head of his brigade I saw him fall, that grieved my heart full sore.
I saw him lie as we passed by with many thousands more.

Napoleon like a Bantam cock sat a-mounted on his spurs.
And hard he tried to represent grim as the god of war.
On his high platform where he did stand and there so loud he crew,
He drooped his wings and turned his head and fled from Waterloo.

When Napoleon found the battle lost, he cries, "I am undone".
He wrung his hands and tore his hair, crying, "Oh, my darling son,
Straightway to Paris I will go and king I will crown you
Before they hear of my defeat on the plains of Waterloo."

There will be a tribute concert to Frank in NYC on October 29th. Mick Moloney and Susan McKeown will be taking part too. I plan on singing "Napoleon's Retreat."

If this raises anyone's curiosity, you can learn a bit more about the recording and hear a few song samples at the Irish Songs from Old New England page of the Folk-Legacy website.   

All the best,