The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #72121   Message #2498679
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
20-Nov-08 - 03:00 PM
Thread Name: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
"The Prisoner's Song" is often said to be a descendant of "Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries," found on broadsides dating back to c. 1780 at the Bodleian (printed in England). A copy from c. 1828, called "Justices and Old Bailey," is the same, but easier to read.
Last two verses:

How hard is the place of confinement,
That keeps me from my heart's delight,
Cold chains and cold irons surround me,
And a plank is my pillow at night.

How often I wish that the eagle
Would lend me her wings I would fly,
Then I'd fly to the arms of my Polly,
And in her soft bosom I'd lie.

Harding B17(153a), T. Birt printer, London, c. 1828-1829.
The song is included in "Sam Henry's Songs of the People," from an Irish source, as "The Gaol Song," but it is obviously very late.