The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162110   Message #3856236
Posted By: Jim Carroll
21-May-17 - 03:22 AM
Thread Name: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
Not sure of Irvine's version, but it's always worth going back to the source of the song in order to make sense of it - the older singers tended to do a more reliable job than those who picked the songs up later
In this case, it came from Brigid Tunney of Beleek, in Fermanagh and was first recorded from her by the BBC in the early 1950s
This is her version in full (from the singing of her Grand-daughter, also Brigid)

1   As I roved out on a bright May morning
To view the meadows and flowers gay
Whom should I spy but my own true lover
As she sat under yon willow tree.

2   I took off my hat and I did salute her
I did salute her courageously
When she turned around sure the tears fell from her, saying:
'False young man you have deluded me.'

3   'For to delude you, how can that be my love
It's from your body I am quite free.
I'm as free from you as the child unborn is
And so are you too, dear Jane, from me.'

4   'Three diamond ring sure I own I gave you
Three diamond ring to wear on your right hand.'
'But the vows you made love, you went and broke them
And married the lassie that had the land.'

5   'If I married the lassie that had the land, my love,
It's that I'll rue to the day I die
When misfortune falls sure no one can shun it.
I was blindfolded I'll ne'er deny.'

6   Now at night when I go to my bed of slumber
The thoughts of my true love run in my mind.
When I turn around to embrace my darling,
Instead of gold sure it's brass I find.

7   And I wish the queen would call home her armies
From the West Indies, America and Spain.
And every man to his wedded woman
In hopes that you and I might meet again.

Fairly straightforward - it's a dialogue between a couple - a man who had promised to marry the woman and the woman he had abandoned for a wealthier girl

Verse 1
The meeting, described my the man - the "I" who has "roved out"
It is immediately revealed that, despite having married someone else, he secretly still loves the girl he abandoned (he refers to her as "my own true lover".

Verse two
She accuses him of abandoning her and makes it clear that she still loves him

Verse three
He tries to make light of the affair, saying no harm has been done (he is lying by pretending he doesn't care for her any more and she should forget him - no harm done)

Verse four
Spoken by both characters in turn
He says that the rings he gave her should be compensation anough for his behaviour
She asks, "But what about the promises you made - don't they count for anything"   
(quite often in this type of song the girl is pregnant and has been left to sort out the mess - not here)

Verse five
He tells her he regrets his actions and blames himself for doing what he did, and is stuck with the consequences

Verse six
He tells her that he still thinks about her, especially when he is lying next to his wife, who, he says, he doesn't love (gold/brass symbolism) and regrets his actions, despite of having benefited financially

Verse seven
He uses the imagined analogy of soldiers being parted by war to sum up their own position and says he wishes that all couples who love each other could be together.

In my opinion, this is one of the finest and most beautiful English language songs in the Irish repertoire - it sums up perfectly the period in which it was probably made, just following the famine, when relationships took second place to staying alive by marring for money rather than for love.
Singers and listeners needs to put themselves in the place of the characters in the dialogue and decide whether the man is genuine or is just trying to bluff his way out of an embarrassing situation - the structure of the song suggests the former rather than the latter, in my opinion
With due respect to Andy Irvine, you need to listen to Brigid (senior or junior - both make a superb job of it) singing it to get the full impact of its sheer beauty.
For me Brigid senior is one of Ireland's finest singers and all her children and grandchildren are or were great singers in their own right.
You can find BRIGID JUNIOR and others singing it on Utube
Personally, I think the song needs instrumental accompaniment like a fish needs a bicycle, but that's me!!
Enjoy!
Jim Carroll