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Origins: English folk song enquiry

GUEST,tsmithmuslib 06 Nov 12 - 06:18 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 12 - 09:17 AM
Mr Happy 06 Nov 12 - 09:25 AM
Mr Happy 06 Nov 12 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,tsmithmuslib 06 Nov 12 - 10:43 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 12 - 02:37 PM
GUEST 09 Nov 12 - 08:48 AM
Snuffy 09 Nov 12 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,tsmithmuslib 12 Nov 12 - 06:46 AM
GUEST 12 Nov 12 - 08:27 AM
IanC 12 Nov 12 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,999 12 Nov 12 - 08:53 AM
IanC 12 Nov 12 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,999 12 Nov 12 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,999 12 Nov 12 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,tsmithmuslib 13 Nov 12 - 09:33 AM
Jim Dixon 16 Nov 12 - 01:11 AM
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Subject: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST,tsmithmuslib
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 06:18 AM

Someone has asked me to track down a folk song but they only have a few bits of information. It's an English ballad, sung from the perspective of a woman who is in love with a madman. The song ends with him being taken away and she simply accepts it, despite being left with her children. The only line he can remember is "o'er the lea."

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 09:17 AM

It doesn't look like any of the standard English oral corpus, but may well be a revived broadside ballad. This contains a distinct genre of 'mad' ballads which date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You have 2 obvious chances, either someone here recognises the plot, or go back to your informant and ask for more info such as first line or a word at least from a title.

FWIW it's usually ploughboys who go whistling 'o'er the lea' and the phrase is common in late 18th century pastoral songs that were the product of the pleasure gardens and of course quite a number of these eventually ended up in oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 09:25 AM

Putting 'o'er the lea' in the search box gives all refs on here:


http://mudcat.org/@NewSSResults.cfm


Work your way through & you may find it


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 09:27 AM

Oops that link doesn't work.

however put 'o'er the lea in the search box & loads of refs will come up


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST,tsmithmuslib
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 10:43 AM

Thanks Steve and Mr Happy for your helpful suggestions. I'd already had a quick search on the forum but haven't found anything so far. Unfortunately it was 25 years ago when the person after this song last saw it so he's unable to give any more details! Hopefully someone might recognise the plot on here!


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 12 - 02:37 PM

I've checked the Scots song 'Sandy o'er the Lea' and that's not it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Nov 12 - 08:48 AM

If o'er the lea is indeed a reference to a ploughman, could the song be a later composition based on John Clare being admitted to an asylum in 1837, leaving behind a wife and seven children?


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Snuffy
Date: 09 Nov 12 - 08:50 AM

Oops - that Guest was me. Didn't notice I'd been logged out.


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST,tsmithmuslib
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:46 AM

Thanks for the suggestions! I've now been informed that another line of the song is, "his proud parents parted poor Owen from me." Hopefully the person after this song will eventually remember the title and author!


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 08:27 AM

Hi

Your English song is Alfred Perceval Graves' poem (from "The Irish Poems") called "For I Had a Spirit Above My Degree". The 1st verse is ...

With the lark up above, the Lent lilies below,
Young Owen came courting, I could not say No !
But because I was poor and of humble degree,
His proud parents parted my Owen and me.


and a later verse has

I looked in his eyes and I saw they were wild,
With the sweet old croonawns his mood I beguiled,
Till his heart-broken father came over the lea
With the keepers and took him still crying for me.


Hope this is useful.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: IanC
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 08:29 AM

sorry ... the last was me sans cookie.

:-)


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Subject: Lyr Add: FOR I HAD A SPIRIT ABOVE MY DEGREE
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 08:53 AM

Thanks to all, because in locating lyrics it is seldom the work of one person.

FOR I HAD A SPIRIT ABOVE MY DEGREE by Alfred Perceval Graves

With the lark up above, the Lent lilies below,
Young Owen came courting, I could not say No !
But because I was poor and of humble degree,
His proud parents parted my Owen and me.

Had he only stood firm. I'd have waited for years ;
But Owen gave way ; so I forced back my tears,
And wed Hugh O'Donnell, long hopeless of me,
For I had a spirit above my degree.

But the sweet old croonawns evermore, evermore,
Owen whistled and sang as he went by our door ;
Yet I never looked out my old sweetheart to see ;
For I had a spirit above my degree.

For comfort, for comfort, I cried and I prayed,
Even while my sweet babe in my bosom was laid ;
But when in my face he laughed up from my knee,
Sweet comfort, sweet comfort it came back to me.


That is from

http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/alfred-perceval-graves/the-irish-poems-volume-2-var/page-4-the-irish-poems-volume-2-var.shtml


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: IanC
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 08:56 AM

I think there are more verses than that. Looks like they're on the next page!!!

:-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 04:48 PM

LOL and ARRRGH!

I'll go check, Ian. Thank you.


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Subject: Lyr Add: FOR I HAD A SPIRIT ABOVE MY DEGREE
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 04:52 PM

FOR I HAD A SPIRIT ABOVE MY DEGREE

With the lark up above, the Lent lilies below,
Young Owen came courting, I could not say No !
But because I was poor and of humble degree,
His proud parents parted my Owen and me.

Had he only stood firm. I'd have waited for years ;
But Owen gave way ; so I forced back my tears,
And wed Hugh O'Donnell, long hopeless of me,
For I had a spirit above my degree.

But the sweet old croonawns evermore, evermore,
Owen whistled and sang as he went by our door ;
Yet I never looked out my old sweetheart to see ;
For I had a spirit above my degree.

For comfort, for comfort, I cried and I prayed,
Even while my sweet babe in my bosom was laid ;
But when in my face he laughed up from my knee,
Sweet comfort, sweet comfort it came back to me.

Till one day to a knock when I pushed back the pin,
All dressed in his best, my poor Owen ran in,
And " Oonagh, make haste, dear, make haste, dear," cried he,
" For the chapel's full up our fine wedding to see.''

I looked in his eyes and I saw they were wild,
With the sweet old croonawns his mood I beguiled,
Till his heart-broken father came over the lea
With the keepers and took him still crying for me.

My good man is gone, but God has been kind ;
My sons they are steady, my girls of my mind ;
My prayers for my lost ones rise fervent and free,
And between their two graves there's one waiting for me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: GUEST,tsmithmuslib
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 09:33 AM

Thank you to everyone who has helped find this song! I've now discovered it in a book called 'Irish Folk-Songs,' with words by Alfred Perceval Graves and airs arranged by Charles Wood (London: Boosey & Co., 1897). It looks as though Charles Villiers Stanford may have also arranged music to this poem too but sadly my library's copy is missing.

Thanks again, Tim.


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Subject: RE: Origins: English folk song enquiry
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 01:11 AM

Google has a digitized image of Irish Folk-Songs: the words by Alfred Perceval Graves ; the airs arranged by Charles Wood (London: Boosey & Co., 1897). The sheet music can be seen on page 95.


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