The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4291   Message #2192763
Posted By: Mysha
13-Nov-07 - 12:02 PM
Thread Name: A note to Three Score and Ten
Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
Hi theleveller,

In this thread, you'll find the original poem, and its dedication. The dedication refers to 8/9 february 1889, and the poem does not include the verse about October.
As there's no October in the original, the reference to that month can probably be ignored for the dating. The origin might be the Great Storm of '71, if the poet intended to stress that '89 was another blow, but if the poem was written for the occasion, it would seem more likely to me that he would have written about the '89 storm itself. That's something to consider, though. Are you still in the area; would you be able to find information on how many lives really were lost in which storm?
(Just before posting, I realised the "Thursday" mentioned in the text can help dating as well, as it means the night of the storm must have been that between Friday and Saturday. The dates of 8/9 february 1889 fit, but the dates of the Great Gale, 9/10 february 1871 are actually thursday and friday. So, 1889 does indeed seem more likely.)

But my problem with "October's night" is not that it doesn't fit the song, but that it doesn't fit the verse. The Digital Tradition has "October's night brought such a sight" (here). But nights don't bring sights, so although it's poetically as good a fit as you can have without the "Me thinks I" of the other verses, it's a poor choice of words for the meaning. (I guess it proves the Duchess right: "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves"; it doesn't work the other way round.) Hence I wonder if the person writing the final verse really put it quite like that.

Me thinks I see at first grey light, a sight not seen before
Of broken spars and beams and masts a-washing on the shore
I feel the sorrow that was shared by many a heart so brave
As many a fine and hearty lad had found a watery grave
And it's ...