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Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts

Anne Neilson 30 Sep 18 - 04:41 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 18 - 05:19 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 30 Sep 18 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Sep 18 - 08:04 PM
John C. Bunnell 30 Sep 18 - 08:12 PM
Anne Neilson 01 Oct 18 - 06:48 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 18 - 07:53 PM
John C. Bunnell 02 Oct 18 - 01:41 AM
leeneia 04 Oct 18 - 04:19 PM
Anne Neilson 04 Oct 18 - 06:52 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 18 - 04:57 AM
Richard Mellish 05 Oct 18 - 10:39 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 18 - 11:03 AM
leeneia 05 Oct 18 - 12:14 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 18 - 12:28 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 04:41 PM

We have a regular ballad workshop in Glasgow and our usual intention is to explore a less familiar ballad, marry it to a given tune (with various twiddlings, if necessary) having identified the key elements of the story from a presented text.
But we also like to "tidy'" any infelicities of either scansion or rhyme to make attractive, singable versions.

SO, here is today's problem -- we were looking at Child ballad 77, Sweet William's Ghost in both versions A and C.
In both versions Lady Margaret/Marjorie/whatever is confronted by her lover (in corporeal form, though dead), but before he can ask for the return of his plight-troth, the Lady Marjorie of version C (from Motherwell) is looking for other lovers' tokens.

Looking for help now to adapt these two problematic verses from the C version.

'Have ye brought me any scarlets so red?
Or any silks so fine?
Or have ye brought me any precious things,
That merchants have for sale'?'

'I have not brought you any scarlets sae red,
No, no, nor the silks so fine;
But I have brought you my winding sheet,
O'er many's the rock and hill.'

Who can make balladic sense of this?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 05:19 PM

C appears to be partly made up of bits of other ballads, Grey Cock and Unquiet Grave.
However, L4 Or bottles of sweet wine.

L4 And in it well entwine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 06:47 PM

In a version from Charles O'Boyle referenced by me and Malcolm Douglas here Lyr Add: Lady Margaret (Sweet William's Ghost the corresponding lines are:


  "Did you bring me the gold, dear Willy, did you bring me the lace?
  Did you bring me the bonny brown dress, my fair body to embrace?"

  "I brought no gold, dear Margaret", he said, "and I forgot the lace,
  But now I carry my winding sheet through many's the dreary place.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 08:04 PM

It looks to me like the rhyme is meant to be "sale" and "hill". How does that scan with the rest of the song? A lot depends on the tune you have chosen as well -if the melody is structured so this segment is one verse instead of two, it works fine, IMHO

cheers- J


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: John C. Bunnell
Date: 30 Sep 18 - 08:12 PM

It may be merely word-drift, but "scarlet" made me think of "scarf", and working from the combination of the quoted Child versions, the O'Boyle version, and what I like to think is a decent ear for scansion, this is what I come up with. (I will also admit to hearing an echo or two of the Simon-and-Garfunkel "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" number in the back of my head as I contemplated this.)


"Have you brought me a kerchief of red, a silver silken gown?
   Or have you brought me a golden ring, bought dear from yonder town?"

"I've brought no kerchief, my lady," he said, "nor gown, nor ring bought dear;
   Instead I've brought you my winding-sheet, o'er barren hills and drear."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 01 Oct 18 - 06:48 PM

Thank you for your suggestions -- I'm still stumbling through possibilities...

However, it does confirm what our group has regularly noticed, namely that individual preferences are more powerful in the long run than something labelled "the right text" by a third party.
For example, I personally wouldn't choose to mention the word 'merchant' in this particular ballad as it seems too mundane IMO for the supernatural subject matter. And although I like the direction of Mick's verses, I would be sticking at 'my fair body to embrace'.
I'm inclining towards John's version and will let let it settle in my own mind (though it will probably also change a bit, even without any intention on my part).

Julia, I've just realised that the tunes that we use in most of our workshops are of the 4-line variety, so you've given me something else to ponder.

Finally, Steve, if I ever manage to cobble something that pleases me, it may well require the assistance of your 'bottles of sweet wine'!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 18 - 07:53 PM

Hi Annie
Amworking on this ballad (or I will be when I get round to it) for my Irish Child balled project

This is Paddy Tunney's version, which, I believe, he got from Sandy McConnell, Cathal's father

1   Lady Margaret she lay on her fine feather bed,
The midnight hour drew nigh
When the ghostly form came to her room,
And to her it did appear, appear,
And to her it did appear.

2   "Are you my father, the king?" she said.
"Are you my brother John?
Or are you my true love William," she said,
"Coming home from Scotland along, along,
Coming home from Scotland along."

3   "I'm not your father, the king," he said,
"Nor am I your brother John,
But I am your sweetheart William," he said,
"Coming home from Scotland along, along,
Coming home from Scotland along."

4   "Oh, Margaret, oh, Lady Margaret," he said,
"For love or charity,
Will you give me back the plighted troth,
That once, love, I gave thee, gave thee,
That once, love, I gave thee?"

5   "I'll not give you back your plighted troth
Or any such a thing,
Until you bring me to my father's hall,
Where oftimes we have been, have been,
Where oftimes we have been."

6   And he took her then to her own father's hall,
And as they entered in,
The gates flew open of their own free will,
For to let young William in, in,
For to let young William in.

7   "Oh, Margaret, oh, Lady Margaret," he said,
"For love or charity,
Will you give me back the treasure troth
That once, love, I gave thee, gave thee,
That once, love, I gave thee?"

8   "I'll not give you back your treasure troth
Or any such a thing,
Until you bring me to my own father's hall
And marry me with a ring, a ring,
And marry me with a ring."

9   He took her then to yon high churchyard,
And as they entered in,
The gates flew open of their own sweet will,
For to let young William in, in,
For to let young William in.

10   "Oh, Margaret, oh, Lady Margaret,' he said,
For love or charity,
Will you give me back the plighted troth
That once, love, I gave thee, thee,
That once, love, I gave thee?"

11   Then out of her pocket she drew a cross,
And she laid it on his breast, Saying,
"Here is back your plighted troth.
In Heaven may your soul find rest, find rest,
In Heaven may your soul find rest."

12   Oh, the winds do blow and the moorcock crow
And it's nearly breaking day,
And it's time that the living should part from the dead,
"So now, my love, I must away, away
So now, my love, I must away."

Don't know if it sheds any light on your problem
Jim


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: John C. Bunnell
Date: 02 Oct 18 - 01:41 AM

Good to know my attempt has been helpful -- and not at all concerned about it morphing a bit in the insertion. I'd expect that as you fit the above lines into the particular vocabulary and rhythm of what you and your group have already worked out.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Oct 18 - 04:19 PM

Thanks for the interesting version, Jim.

It seems to me that she should ask to go to a church, not a hall, in verse 8.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 04 Oct 18 - 06:52 PM

Leeneia, I'm with you on verse 8 -- and it would possibly have happened without me even realising.
But it is a fine version, Jim, so thanks for posting.

As a wee aside, about five years ago I found the text of a Jeannie Robertson version of 'Son David' which my teacher had written out for me way back in 1958 or so.
When I read it through, I realised that my version had drifted slightly from the original. Jeannie had the mother asking about the blood on the sword four times, to receive the answers 'my grey mare', 'my grey hound', 'my hunting hawk' and -- finally -- 'my brother John'. I had dropped the hawk so that there were only three questions, and re-arranged the sequence as hound followed by mare followed by brother. With hindsight I put this down to a preference for the magic 3, and the tension of the relative importance/value of the animal victims.
And I also realised that Jeannie had the mother describe the blood as 'ower red' on each occasion, whereas I had been singing 'ower strang/red' for the hound, and 'ower clear' for the mare.....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 18 - 04:57 AM

Two versions from early print from ‘Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England (vol 2) (Helen Hartness Flanders 1961)
I haven’t checked, but Ms Flanders’s amazing collection is on line for listening – it may include oral versions
These from me, bear traces of the clumsy hand of the broadside maker – I’ve left the archaic spelling in (f instead of s,)
It would be interesting to see what the singers made of them
Jim Carroll

Sweet William’s Ghost (Child 77)
“Sweet William’s Ghost” has been found in the Carolina- Virginia area, in New England, and in Newfoundland, but it is certainly not widely known in North America. In Britain, it has become rare, too, although Child prints seven versions. There is an analogous song, “The Betrothed in the Grave,” which in Child’s words is “one of the most beautiful and celebrated of the Scandinavian ballads.”
Behind the song lies a Germanic folk belief that a de¬ceased lover cannot be at rest in the land of the dead when he still has an earthly tie. The revenant comes to ask back his unfulfilled troth. The crowing of the cocks, white or gray, red, and black, is the signal for his return to the coffin. Margaret, who cannot follow her lover into the grave, dies in sorrow. Child, II, 226-29, gives a full discussion of the superstitions involved.
Flanders A, from The Green Mountain Songster, is like Child C, from the Motherwell MS, in general plot outline, although there are marked differences in the two texts. Both, however, do include the three unwed girls and their three children standing in the grave, but where the Child text has hellhounds Flanders A has three maids to guide the dead man’s soul. Flanders B is a close replica of Child A, which is not the usual American form of the ballad. No mention is made in this text of the occupants of the grave; the coffin is merely too “meet” for Margaret to get in.
Coffin, 81-82, gives an American bibliography. Child, II,
226 f., discusses British variations and the analogues. Dean- Smith does not list the song at all.

A
Copied literatim et punctatim from page 34 of The Green Mountain Songster, which is in the possession of Harold Rugg at the Baker Memorial Library in Hanover, New Hampshire. This Songster was compiled by a Revolutionary soldier and published in the town of Sandgate in 1823. Printed in Vermont Folk-Songs & Ballads, 240.
H. H. F., Collector 1930
Lady Margaret and Sweet William

LADY Margaret sat in her own bowery all alone,
And under her bowry east window she heard three pitiful groans;
Oh, is it my father dear, she said, or is it my brother John,
Or is it my loving dear William from Scotland newly come home?

It is not your father, he said, nor is it your brother John,
But is your loving dear William from Scotland newly come home.
Oh have you brought me any gold, she said, or have you brought me any fee,
Or have you bro’t any fine linnen from Scotland home to me?

I have not bro’t you any gold, he said nor have I bro’t you any fee,
But I’ve brought you my winding sheet ’tis rotted off from me;
Give me my troth Lagy Margaret, he said I’ll give thee thine again
For the longer I tarry and talk with you the sharper’ll be my pain.

I will not give you your troth she said nor you give mine to me,
Until you carry me to fair Scotland your bowry for to see.
My bowry ’tis a poor bowry it is both deep and dim;
My bowry ’tis a poor bowry to put a fair lady in.

I will not give you your troth she said nor will I have mine again,
Until you kiss my merry merry lips or wed me with a ring.
I cannot kiss your merry, merry lips, by breath it is so strong,
My face it is all worm-eaten, I am no living man.

She pulled up her petticoat, almost unto her knee,
And in a cold and a winter’s night the pale ghost follow’d she;
Oh who are these, sweet William, she said, are standing at your head?
They’re three pretty maids, Lady Margaret, he said, that I refus’d to wed.

Oh who are these, sweet William, she said, are standing at your feet?
They’re three children, Lady Margaret, he said, that I re¬fus’d to keep.
Oh who are these, sweet William, she said, are standing by your side?
They’re three pretty maids, Lady Margaret, he said, waiting my soul to guide.

The first is for my drunkenness, the second’s for my pride,
The third is for my false swearing and wandering in the night;
Give me my troth Lady Margaret, he said, I’ll give thee thine again
For the longer I tarry and talk with you the sharper’ll be my pain.

She had a handkerchief in her hand she spread it on the ground,
Saying, here is your faith and troth William, God lay your body down;
She had a willow in her hand, she laid it across his breast,
Saying, here is your faith and troth, William, I wish your soul at rest.

So here is your faith and troth William, and give me mine again,
But if you’re dead and gone to hell in hell you must remain.

B
Copied literatim et punctatim by H. H. F. from a compilation of 400 pages of numbered issues of The Charms of Melody: or Siren Medley, printed by ]. & J. Carrick, Bache¬lor’s Walk, Dublin. The watermark on the title page reads GREAT NEWTON, with the date 1818. Copies are avail¬able at the Boston Athenaeum; the John Hay Library at Brown University {60 pages, dated 1824, beginnmg with volume 1, page 1); and at the Library of Congress.
H. H. F., Collector August 1, 1958
Margaret and Willy.
An Old Scotch Ballad

There came a ghoft to Marg’ret’s door,
With many a grievous groan,
And ay he twirled at the pin,
But anfwer made fhe none.

“Is that my father Philip?
“Or is’t my brother John?
“Or is’t my true love Willy,
“From Scotland new come home?”

“ ’Tis not thy father Philip,
“Nor yet thy brother John;
“But ’tis thy true love Willy,
“From Scotland new come home.

“O fweet Marg’ret! O dear Marg’ret!
“I pray thee fpeak to me;
“Give me my faith and troth, Marg’ret,
“As I gave it to thee.”

“Thy faith and troth thou’s never get,
“Nor yet will I thee lend,
“Till that thou come within my bow’r,
“And kifs my cheek and chin.”

“If I fhould come within thy bow’r,
“I am no earthly man;
“And fhou’d I kifs thy rofy lips,
“Thy days will not be lang.

“O fweet Marg’ret! O dear Marg’ret!
“I pray thee fpeak to me;
“Give me my faith and troth, Marg’ret,
“As I gave it to thee.”

“Thy faith and troth thou’s never get,
“Nor yet will I thee lend.
“Till you take me to yon kirk-yard,
“And wed me with a ring.”

“My bones are buried in yon kirk-yard,
“A far beyond the fea;
“And it is but my fpirit, Marg’ret, “
That’s now fpeaking to thee.”

She ftretch’d out her lily-white hand,
And for to do her beft,
“Hae there’s your faith and troth, Willy,
“God fend your foul good reft.”

Now fhe has kilted her robes of green
A piece below her knee,
And aw the live-lang winter night
The dead corpfe follow’d fhe.

“Is there room at your head, Willy?
“Or any room at your feet?
“Or any room at your fide, Willy,
“Wherein that I may creep?”

“There’s no room at my head, Marg’ret;
“There’s no room at my feet;
“There’s no room at my fide, Marg’ret.
“My coffin’s made fo meet.”

Then up and crew the red, red cock,
And up then crew the grey;
“ ’Tis time, ’tis time, my dear Marg’ret,
“That you were going away.”

No more the ghoft to Marg’ret faid,
But, with a grievous groan,
He vanifh’d in a cloud of mift,
And left her all alone.

“O ftay, my only true love, ftay,”
The conftant Marg’ret cry’d;
Wan grew her cheeks, fhe clos’d her een,
Stretch’d her foft limbs, and dy’d.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Oct 18 - 10:39 AM

The Paddy Tunney version quoted by Jim is close to the version that Oliver Mulligan sings, which is the one that I am most familiar with. Neither has Anne's problematic verses: perhaps someone earlier in the chain of transmission likewise found them problematic and dropped them, consciously or unconsciously. My first thought was to leave them out, but then I realised that they do contribute something to the story, a moment when Margaret assumes (understandably!) that her visitor is alive, before he tells her otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 18 - 11:03 AM

There's quite nice recording ofCathal MacConnell's father Sandy sining it on an LP of Ulster songs 'Folksongs of Ulster maybe' - 2 volumes worth of superb songs

Oliver is an old friend - give him my regards, should you see him
Jim


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: leeneia
Date: 05 Oct 18 - 12:14 PM

"I’ve left the archaic spelling in (f instead of s,)"

That's not an f, Jim, that's the long s, also known as medial s. There are a number of websites that explain all about it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Adapting' ballad texts
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 18 - 12:28 PM

I know that lee but scanning down turns it into an F
We used to have great fun at school reading it as f from old books - you wouldn't believe what you come up with - drove the teachers mad
Jim


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