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Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?

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EPPIE MORRIE


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Eppie Morrie (from Sileas) (14)


rosebrook 10 Oct 97 - 11:34 PM
Jerry Friedman 11 Oct 97 - 01:34 PM
rosebrook 11 Oct 97 - 05:36 PM
Susan of DT 11 Oct 97 - 05:40 PM
Helen 11 Oct 97 - 08:42 PM
Bruce 11 Oct 97 - 09:13 PM
Helen 12 Oct 97 - 01:46 AM
Santas little helper 12 Oct 97 - 11:50 AM
dick greenhaus 12 Oct 97 - 08:42 PM
rosebrook 12 Oct 97 - 10:27 PM
Helen 13 Oct 97 - 01:47 AM
Nonie Rider 13 Oct 97 - 06:53 PM
Jerry Friedman 14 Oct 97 - 05:20 PM
Helen 15 Oct 97 - 08:52 AM
Nonie Rider 15 Oct 97 - 12:45 PM
Bruce 15 Oct 97 - 02:13 PM
Nonie Rider 15 Oct 97 - 08:13 PM
Nonie Rider 15 Oct 97 - 09:21 PM
Susan of DT 15 Oct 97 - 09:40 PM
rosebrook 16 Oct 97 - 10:44 AM
Nonie Rider 16 Oct 97 - 01:57 PM
Jerry Friedman 16 Oct 97 - 04:50 PM
Will 16 Oct 97 - 10:30 PM
Bruce 16 Oct 97 - 11:27 PM
harpgirl 15 Jul 01 - 06:36 PM
Jeri 15 Jul 01 - 06:47 PM
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Subject: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: rosebrook
Date: 10 Oct 97 - 11:34 PM

Having searched high and low, I've finally found the words to the song Eppie Morie in this web site. My question though, is anyone familiar enough with the song so as to offer a line by line "translation"? (translation in quotes because it is in English...)Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 11 Oct 97 - 01:34 PM

You might be interested in the Scots FAQ at ftp://jpd.ch.man.ac.uk/pub/Scots/ScotsFAQ.txt, though it's about a more modern version of the language. Incidentally, the author of that FAQ might disagree with your statement that "Eppie Morrie" is in English.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: rosebrook
Date: 11 Oct 97 - 05:36 PM

Jerry Friedman, I don't know what your notation "jpd.ch.man.ac.uk/Scots/ScotsFAQ.txt" means. I tried going to that as a web site, but was not able to. I am appreciative of your help, just don't know how to access it.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 11 Oct 97 - 05:40 PM

Is your question the general plot outline or particulars? He kidnaps her, marries her by force, she fights him off all night and goes a maiden home.


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Subject: Lyr Add: EPPIE MORRIE
From: Helen
Date: 11 Oct 97 - 08:42 PM

Hi
I'll do a rough translation for you.

If you want to hear a brilliant version of this, listen to the Sileas CD - either Beating Harps or Delighted with Harps album. They are a Scottish duo - harps and vocals. @ of the best albums in my collection, (and I have eclectic tastes - everything except C&W, & most Opera.)

Note about the song: Eppie is married to Willie against her will, but according to the law of the time if Willie can't get her to consummate the marriage then she is entitled to annul the marriage and go back home "a maiden as she came", i.e. with her maidenhead and her reputation intact.

Quick notes: "ch" can be changed to "gh" in a lot of words - "licht" becomes "light"
"frae" = "from"
"sae" = "so"
"wadna" = "wouldn't", "couldn'a" = "couldn't"
"gang" = "go
"daurna" = "do not"
"hae" = "have"
"rid" = "ridden"

EPPIE MORRIE

Four-and-twenty Hielan' men
Cam' frae the Carron side
To steal awa' Epple Morrle
For she wadna be a bride, a bride,
She wadna be a bride.

Then oot it's cam' her mither then,
It was a moonlicht nicht,
She couldnae see her dochter (daughter)
For tbe water shine sae bricht, sae bricht
The water shine sae bricht.

Haud awa' frae me, mither, (hold)
Haud awa' frae me!
There's no' a man in' Strathdon
Shall wedded be with me, with me,
Shall wedded be with me.

They've taken Eppie Morrie, tben,
And a horse they've bound her on,
And they hae rid to the minister's hoose
As fast as horse could gang, could gang,
As fast as horse could gang.

Then Willie's ta'en his pistol oot (taken)
And set it to the minister's breist,
O marry me, marry me, minister,
Or else I'll be your priest, your priest
Or else I'll be your priest.

Haud awa' frae me, Willie,
Haud awa' frae me,
I daurna avow to marry you
Except she's willin' as thee, as thee,
Except she's willin' as thee.

Haud awa' frae me, good sir,
Haud awa' frae me,
There's no' a man in a' Strathdon
Shall married be by me, by me,
Shall married be by me.

They've taken Eppie Morrie then,
Sin' better couldna' be,
And they hae rid o'er Carron side
As fast as horse could flee, could flee,
As fast as horse could flee.

The mass was sung and bells were rung
And they'r awa' to bed,
And Willie and Eppie Morrie,
In ane bed they were laid, were laid
In ane bed they were laid.

He's ta'en the sark frae aff his back ("sark" = "shirt?")
And kicked awa his shoon (shoes)
And thrawn awa the chaulmer (chamber?) key,
And naked he lay doon, lay doon (down)
And naked he lay doon.

"Haud awa frae me, Willie,
Haud awa' frae me,
Before I lose my maidenheid
I'll try my strength wi' thee, wi' thee.
I'll try my strength wi' thee:"

He's kissed her on the lily breist
And held her shouthers twa (2)
But aye she grat (fought him off?) and aye she spat
And turned tae the wa', the wa', (wall)
And turned tae the wa'.

"Haud awa frae me, Willie,
Haud awa' frae me,
Before I lose my maidenheid
I'll fecht (fight) wi' you till day, till day
I'll fecht wi' you till day.

A' through the nicht they warssled (wrestled) there
Until the licht o' day,
And Willie grat and Willie swat (sweated)
But he couldna' streitch her spey, her spey (maidenhead/hymen?)
He couldna' streitch her spey

Then, early in the morning
Before the licht o' day
In came the maid o' Scallater
Wi' a goun and shirt alane, alane (gown & shirt)
Wi' a goun and shirt alane

Get up, get up, young woman
And drink the wine wi' me,
You nicht hae ca'd (called) me "maiden",
For I'm sure as hale (whole) as thee, as thee,
For I'm sure as hale as thee.

Weary fa' you, Willie, then, (don't know :-) )
That ye couldna' prove a man,
Ye micht hae ta'en (taken) her maidenheid,
She wuuld hae hired (don't know :-) )your hand, your hand,
She would hae hired your hand.

"Haud awa' frae me, lady,
Haud awa' frae me!
There's no' a man in a' Strathdon
Shall wedded be with me, with me,
Shall wedded be with me.

Then in there came young Breadalbane
Wi' a pistol on each side,
O, come awa', Eppie Morrie,
And I'll mak' you my bride, my bride,
And l'll mak' you my bride.

Gae (go) get to me a horse, Willie,
Get it like a man,
And send me back to my mither
A maiden as I cam', I cam'
O a maiden as I cam'.

The sun shines ower the westlin hills (westward)
By the lamplicht o' the moon,
O --- saddle your horse, young John Forsythe,
Just whistle and I'll come soon, come soon,
Just whistle snd I'll come soon.

from Blood & Roses vol.3 MacColl & Seeger
Child #223
@courting @abduction @Scots
filename[ EPPMORR

CLICK HERE TO PLAY
SF


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Bruce
Date: 11 Oct 97 - 09:13 PM

Ewan MacColl sang the song on the old Riverside label on the Child ballad series, then the whole series was reissued on the Washington label. It is noted there that MacColl's learned a version from his father and added verses from Samuel Wylie of Falkirk and from Child's text (that from James Maidment's North Countrie Garland).

I can't recall where I saw it, but I once read that MacColl's tune was the only traditional tune to ever have been turned up, so however someone else sings it has to do with art, not folksong. MacColl's is the only text with A traditional Tune.

By the way Helen, do you know who the SF at the end of the DT file stands for?


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Helen
Date: 12 Oct 97 - 01:46 AM

Sorry Bruce, I don't know who SF is - is it the initials of the person who put the tune into the database? I didn't realise that.

I don't know which version of the tune that Sileas sings, but it sounds close enough to the one in DT's database, if you allow for some vocal embellishments.

I have to make a correction, too - I re-read the lyrics, and the liner notes on the album, and Eppie *was* kidnapped, although Willie tries to legitimise the marriage by taking her to the minister's house. I don't know where I got the info about a marriage only being valid if it was consummated, but I'm pretty sure it's right, although maybe not specifically for Scotland. Now I come to think about it, it might have worked the other way around, too. If Willie had managed to get his wicked way with her without marriage vows she may have been considered to be married anyway, if he claimed her as his wife. Not sure at all about that one either.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Santas little helper
Date: 12 Oct 97 - 11:50 AM

In case rosebrook is still reading and confused

[ I don't know what your notation "jpd.ch.man.ac.uk/Scots/ScotsFAQ.txt" means.]

he didn't SAY jpd, he said ftp...most browsers will recognize 'ftp' and get you there

You might be interested in the Scots FAQ at ftp://jpd.ch.man.ac.uk/pub/Scots/ScotsFAQ.txt


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Oct 97 - 08:42 PM

I have no idea how traditional the tune is: Ewan MacColl is the only source. I've heard the same tune (with a less militant beat) used for Lowlands of Holland (Patrick Galvin).

SF is Susan of DT--she entered the song (I think)

By the way--am I the only one who isn't sure that unsuccessful forcible sex songs (Eppie Morrie, the Baffled Kight etc.)are less an objection to rape than they are of insufficient force being used? Read the words. Preferably without today's mind-set.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: rosebrook
Date: 12 Oct 97 - 10:27 PM

Thank you Jerry Friedman for your reference to that awesome web site! (And thank you santa's lil' helper for explaining how to use it....am new to browsing) Have only heard this sung by lesbian folksinger Alix Dobkin, and I'm really excited about the opportunity to hear others sing it, too.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Helen
Date: 13 Oct 97 - 01:47 AM

Dick You may be right about the message in some songs, but this song seems to me to be from the woman's perspective - its tone is triumphant, and the man loses out in this case. Score: Women: 1, men: x quadzillions over the history of humankind (or unkind, perhaps?) :-)

Rosebrook

If you like Alix Dobkin you'll probably love Sileas, because they are the gutsiest harp players I have ever heard - none of that prissy/sissy harp stuff - and the songs they have chosen are very much oriented to stong women.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 13 Oct 97 - 06:53 PM

(Re lyric questions: "grat" = "greeted", which means cried or yelled. She's yelling and spitting rather than giving in.

"Weary fa' you" is just another generic curse: "God damn you/Woe upon ye/Ill betide you/De'il tak ye"; the woman who came in with the clothes in the morning is cursing Willie for not forcing Eppie, because if he'd succeeded, Eppie might have "hired his hand," which I presume means "paid to be married to him."

Eppie is NOT the one who's complaining about his lack of force. And I suspect that if the song were intended to show that he should have been more forceful, it would end with Eppie being defeated or punished (by man or God) rather than riding away.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 14 Oct 97 - 05:20 PM

You're entirely welcome, rosebrook!

Yes, sark = shirt. (The berserkers were so named because they fought in their Bare Sarks, believing that if they wore no armor no weapon could pierce them--or was it because they fought in Bear Sarks, believing that thus they gained the animal's strength?)

Doesn't "daurna" mean "dare not" rather than "do not"?

I agree with Nonie Rider that the tone of "Eppie Morrie" is triumphant, but I agree with Dick that Willie is criticized and mocked for not being enough of a "man" to carry out the rape, not for trying a rape in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Helen
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 08:52 AM

Thanks Jerry & Nonie for the rest of the translation - "dare not" makes more sense, but I can only roughly translate anyway. My knowledge of the words is via a meandering route through Anglo-Saxon & Middle English studies, and I don't have a family or direct knowledge of Scots.

And Jerry, I think I recall that one of the scariest things about an opponent only wearing his bare "sark"/shirt was that he must have been so unconcerned about his own safety that his opponent's safety would be of even less concern. You don't play footsies with someone in a dark alley yelling wildly and swinging an axe around - you're the one who will get horribly minced up, and (s)he's not going to listen to reason, and will not fight fair.

Same reason for the scariness of blue-tattoed naked Celtic warriors, as I heard it.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 12:45 PM

I was lucky to grow up around a couple of library reject books on English and Scottish Border Ballads, so I've got a middling eye for the common terms and phrases, but I can still be utterly stumped by songs like "Cam Ye O'er Frae France," where the words I don't know, and the political references I don't know, collide in an impenetrable train wreck.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Bruce
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 02:13 PM

"Came ye o'er from France" is in James Hogg's 'Jacobite Relics', I, p. 87, 1819 (available as reprint from AMS Press). In his notes Hogg identified a few of the characters, but admitted he couldn't figure out all of them, so you are not alone.

Ewan MacColl sang it on Folkways FW 8756 (re-released in Great Britain on a different label), and in the notes on the accompanying brochure most of the Scots vernacular is translated.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 08:13 PM

Yeah, I troweled through the footnotes in the DB for "Cam ye o'er" and they helped with about half my confusion, but at least when you see it written down, it's easier to know what's REAL confusion and what's just bad hearing. (And I'd never heard the term "niffer" for "bargain, dicker" before, which didn't help.)


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 09:21 PM

It occurs to me that we keep translating single terms here only. Lemme give you my full guess, in plodding detail rather than elegance, and other folk can correct me.

> EPPIE MORRIE

> Four-and-twenty Hielan' men
> Cam' frae the Carron side
> To steal awa' Eppie Morrie
> For she wadna be a bride, a bride, She wadna be a bride.

Twenty-four Highland men came from the Carran side (mountain? riverbank? This comes up other ballads such as Gil Morrice) to steal away EM because she refused to be a bride.

> Then oot it's cam' her mither then,
> It was a moonlicht nicht,
> She couldnae see her dochter
> For tbe water shine sae bricht,

Then her mother came out, (but) because it was a moonlit night, she couldn't see her daughter because the water shone so brightly.

> Haud awa' frae me, mither,
> Haud awa' frae me!
> There's no' a man in' Strathdon
> Shall wedded be with me,

Stay back from me, mother, stay back from me. There's not a man in Strathdon who shall be wedded with me. (= I won't marry any of them.)

> They've taken Eppie Morrie, then,
> And a horse they've bound her on,
> And they hae rid to the minister's hoose
> As fast as horse could gang,

Then they took EM and tied her to a horse, and rode to the minister's house as fast as a horse can go.

> Then Willie's ta'en his pistol oot
> And set it to the minister's breist,
> O marry me, marry me, minister,
> Or else I'll be your priest,

Then Willie took out his pistol and set it against the minister's chest, (saying) "Marry me (to her), minister, or else I'll be your priest (=bury you = kill you).

> Haud awa' frae me, Willie,
> Haud awa' frae me,
> I daurna avow to marry you
> Except she's willin' as thee,

(The minister says): Hold away from me (leave me alone), Willie, hold away from me. I dare not promise to marry > you unless she is as willing as you are.

> Haud awa' frae me, good sir,
> Haud awa' frae me,
> There's no' a man in a' Strathdon
> Shall married be by me,

(EM says to minister) Leave me alone, good sir, leave me alone. I'm not going to marry any man in all Strathdon.

> They've taken Eppie Morrie then,
> Sin' better couldna' be,
> And they hae rid o'er Carron side
> As fast as horse could flee,

Then they took EM and rode back (home) over Carran side as fast as a horse could flee, because they couldn't do any better (=they couldn't force the marriage, so rape would have to do...)

> The mass was sung and bells were rung
> And they'r awa' to bed,
> And Willie and Eppie Morrie,
> In ane bed they were laid,

Mass was sung and bells were rung (=evening, or a form of marriage?) and they went to bed together, and Willie and ER were laid in one bed.

> He's ta'en the sark frae aff his back
> And kicked awa his shoon
> And thrawn awa the chaulmer key,
> And naked he lay doon,

He took the shirt off his back and kicked away his shoes, and threw away the chamber key and laid down naked.

> "Haud awa frae me, Willie,
> Haud awa' frae me,
> Before I lose my maidenheid
> I'll try my strength wi' thee,

Leave me alone, Willie, leave me alone. Before I lose my maidenhead, I'll test my strength against yours.

> He's kissed her on the lily breist
> And held her shouthers twa
> But aye she grat and aye she spat
> And turned tae the wa',

He kissed her on the lily(-white) breast, and held her two shoulders, but she kept yelling, and kept spitting, and turned to the wall (a more defensible position...)

> "Haud awa frae me, Willie,
> Haud awa' frae me,
> Before I lose my maidenheid
> I'll fecht wi' you till day,

Leave me alone, Willie. Before I lose my maidenhead, I'll fight with you until day.

> A' through the nicht they warssled there
> Until the licht o' day,
> And Willie grat and Willie swat
> But he couldna' streitch her spey,

All through the night they wrestled there, until daylight, and even though Willie yelled and sweated (worked hard), he couldn't stretch her hymen.

> Then, early in the morning
> Before the licht o' day
> In came the maid o' Scallater
> Wi' a goun and shirt alane,

Then early in the morning before daylight, the maid of Scallater(?) came in alone with a gown and shirt.

> Get up, get up, young woman
> And drink the wine wi' me,
> You nicht hae ca'd me "maiden",
> For I'm sure as hale as thee,

(The maid says) "Get up, young woman, and drink the wine with me. (EM says) "You called me a maiden last night, because I'm certainly as whole as you are." (EM's saying, "Don't call me a "woman" now; I'm still a virgin!")

> Weary fa' you, Willie, then,
> That ye couldna' prove a man,
> Ye micht hae ta'en her maidenheid,
> She would hae hired your hand.

(The maid says) "Goddamn you, Willie, for not proving yourself to be a man. You could have taken her maidenhead, and then she would have ?paid to marry you?.

> "Haud awa' frae me, lady,
> Haud awa' frae me!
> There's no' a man in a' Strathdon
> Shall wedded be with me,

(EM says) "Leave me alone, lady, I'm not gonna marry any man in all of Strathdon."

> Then in there came young Breadalbane
> Wi' a pistol on each side,
> O, come awa', Eppie Morrie,
And I'll mak' you my bride,

(Abrupt rescue scene; is it borrowed from another ballad?) Then young Breadalbane came in with a pistol on each side, saying "Come away, EM, and I'll make you my bride."

> Gae (go) get to me a horse, Willie,
> Get it like a man,
> And send me back to my mither
> A maiden as I cam',

(EM to her kidnapper) Go get me a horse, Willie; get it like a man, and send me back to my mother as virginal as I was when I came here.

> The sun shines ower the westlin hills
> By the lamplicht o' the moon,
> Saddle your horse, young John Forsythe,
> Just whistle and I'll come soon

(Another disjoint piece, probably from another song. Here presumably EM to her rescuer) "The sun's shining in the west (and will set soon) by the moon's lamplight. Saddle your horse, young John Forsythe. When you whistle, I'll come to you soon."

I'll have to rummage around in the DB for those two interpolated verses, but it looks to me like in the core of the song, EM refuses to marry anyone, fights off her kidnapper, and demands a ride home in the morning. With the two verses that don't fit into the rest, she turns out to be saving herself for a different man, who rescues her and she goes with him willingly.

If it isn't clear WHY I think those verses are added: the rest of the song has clear, linear action and consistent names, and transitions like "So since the minister turned 'em down, they went back home." None of the other pieces are disjointed or unexplained.

And then suddenly there's a man with two different names who comes (unheralded from nowhere) to rescue her, after she already fought off her attacker. Ignoring her rescuer, she demands from her ATTACKER a ride home to her mother, and then tells her boyfriend to whistle at night and she'll come out to him (which suggests a willingness to put aside her well-defended virginity pretty casually). Meanwhile, even though it's just before dawn, she goes all poetic about the setting sun. I'm not convinced.

And all of this in a song that emphasises her virginity and her unwillingness to marry any man in the area, INSTEAD of "I won't marry you; I'm already betrothed to Breadalbane!" or "I love John better!"

But I think I've plodded long enough...


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 09:40 PM

Nonie - When bell were rung and mass was sung is a standard ballad line for evening/bedtime, rather than a marriage service.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: rosebrook
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 10:44 AM

Nonie Rider, Although when others added to this thread, little light bulbs went off accompanied by delighted "Oh, Wow!"'s, YOU are truly the goddess of interpretation to me, and I sincerely appreciate your interest and labor! Thanks much.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 01:57 PM

Glad to help. I'm terrible at factual detail (exact quotes, exact titles, year album recorded), and have leapt upon DT like a delighted vampire, so I'm glad if I've got anything to give back.

--Nonie


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 04:50 PM

Yes, thank you, Nonie!

You nicht hae ca'd me "maiden",--
Is "nicht" a typo for "micht"? "You might have called me 'maiden', for I'm sure as healthy as thee" makes good sense to me.

And what kind of a name is "Eppie"? Around here (northern New Mexico) it would be a nickname for Epifanio or Epifania (=Epiphany), but what was it in Scotland?


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Will
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 10:30 PM

Hmm, I looked up "Eppie" in the names part of Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary (wonderful articulate book with elegant definitions, published in Edinburgh). No "Eppie". Closest thing is Ephraim, which doesn't fit. One possibility would be a variant of "Effie" (short form of Euphemia), which I know is used in the north of England and, I think, in Scotland also.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Bruce
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 11:27 PM

The name has been given in different ways: Scots tune- Eppie/Eppy Adair Scots song and tune- Eppie/Appy/Effie McNab


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: harpgirl
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:36 PM

....Ohhhh....I just heard this on "Thistle & Shamrock" done by Karan Casey. Have not heard it before. Lively tune and KC singing like a flock of meadowlarks....


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:47 PM

She did it at Old Songs. Great song. Karen Casey has such a pretty voice, I didn't expect her to convey a feeling of power in her singing, but she delightfully proved me wrong.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:48 PM

...I heard it, too...not a bad version...a few too many sound effects for my taste, but good voice and presentation

(and just read most of the thread before I looked at the dates!)


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: IvanB
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 07:50 PM

harp, thanks for your post. Hoping T&S here will be the same version as you heard. Starts in about 10 min.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 09:03 PM

I thought Karan Casey did a wonderful interpretation of the song. I also liked her guitarist Robbie Overson's description of the song - "It's like 'Pulp Fiction' in kilts!"


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: toadfrog
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 11:17 PM

It seems to me Eppie Morrie is one of the very least interesting Child Balads, as is "Thomas Rymer." Bronson says of both, that looking at the way the words don't fit the music in these songs is a good indication they do not have traditional roots. So as ballad are sung to a square rythm, "marry me, marry me, minister, or else I'll be your priest" does not work, for it the phrase has no impact unless the word "your" is stressed, and it can't be, and not even McColl was able to cause that to make sense.

One is willing to listen to one of those ballads all the way through, because they gather steam like a freight train and end by standing your hair on end. Lamkin! The Twa Sisters! Wow! But Eppie Morrie is an artificial ballad and has no emotional punch. It does not cause anyone to care how it will end. Some Romantic sat down and wrote Eppie Morrie to be what he/she imagined a ballad to be, and somehow age has not improved it. And as to the feminist theme, "Broomfield Hill" has a very similar theme and is an infinitely better song.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Joe_F
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 12:06 AM

I have always found "the waters shone sae bricht" puzzling & suspected a corruption. Child 223 has "Their *swords* they shin'd so bright", which makes more sense: it might be a bashful metaphor for "She dared not defend her daughter for fear of their swords" -- ashamed of not fighting back at odds of 24 to 2! That would be consistent with the rest of the story in that it presumes a culture in which physical courage is admired in women as well as men.

Child's synopsis of the ending is: "She defends herself successfully, and in the morning comes in her lover, Belbordlane [sic], or John Forsyth, well armed, and we presume well supported, who carries her back to her mother, to be his bride." Perhaps he is *Lord* Belbordlane; that would explain the two names. Perhaps, also, Willie lived in Strathdon but John did not; then "There's no a man in a' Strathdon" would only be an emphatic rejection of Willie & not of the whole male sex.

My reading of "The sun shines oer the westlin hills by the lamplicht o' the moon" is that the rising sun is lighting up the hills to the west, and the (full) moon is setting behind them.

A consistent reading of the sequence at the end would be that she tells Willie to be a good sport and give her a horse so that she can accompany her betrothed back to her mother's house. That does not seem to me incredible. Willie is not exactly a gallant character, but it appears that for him there are decencies that even ruffians must respect. It is O.K. for his gang to help him in the abduction, but not in the rape proper. It is O.K. for him to threaten the minister with his pistols, but not her. Evidently the rape itself has to be naked and one on one. If he succeeds, of course she will have to marry him. If he fails, he has to let her go. Chivalry, 18th-century Scots fashion!

That doesn't explain why John Forsyth didn't bring an extra horse with him, or invite Eppie to ride with him on his, but perhaps there were practical difficulties.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Jasmine
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 09:01 AM

Found this while looking for information on this song...thanks much for the interpretations!

After hearing the song several times, I wonder about some parts of it though. The phrase that stuck in my mind was "could not stretch her spey", and having a thought on whether the word stretch was chosen purely for artistic reasons (i.e., because it flows better than 'break'), or if it is indicative of something else entirely.

By saying that he couldn't stretch it (rather than that he couldn't break it), it sounds almost like he couldn't..err..reach it. This makes me wonder whether they're saying not that she fought him off so well that he was prevented from entering the entire night, but instead that he was either not very well-equipped, or else suffered from impotence.

It'd be understandable - she's already been heaping scorn on him since the time he took her (on hearing the line "there's not a man in all Strathdon wedded be by me", I didn't take it to mean that she doesn't want to marry, but that she thinks all the men of Strathdon are completely beneath her - she considers none of them worth marrying). Turning to the wall (turning your back on your lover) is also a sign of scorn as much as it is a defensive posture. And then the maid heaps even more scorn on him in the morning for failing - is her comment about him not being man enough because she feels he didn't try hard enough, or is it scorn that he wasn't able to perform? The final scorn seems to be EM telling him to get a horse 'like a man', possibly implying that if he can't do anything else 'like a man', maybe he can at least fetch a horse like one? And just to rub it in a little more, she reminds him that she's going back to her mother as maiden as she came - that he failed, and everyone's going to know about it.

On the 'hired your hand' line, I'm thinking that it's probably idiomatic for something else rather than anything too literal. I was thinking it could mean something like 'she would have engaged you' (not engage as meaning betrothed, but engage as carry on with, a sort of slide from engage as meaning to hire). Another possibility could be a little closer to the literal meaning of hire - possibly, if he'd succeeded in taking her, she might have accepted him as a mercenary husband even though she considered him beneath her, a strong protector for the household if never a true love. But because she doesn't consider him 'a man', he's lost even that chance.

Anyway, just a couple of random thoughts on an old topic... ;)


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 10:17 PM

Jasmine: Your suggestion the Willie was impotent startled me. In an actual event it is certainly something that might have happened; but in the context of this story I think it is an unlikely interpretation. What would be the point of all the wrestling if he couldn't have deflowered her anyway? The lines "I'll fecht wi you till day" & "All through the nicht they warsled there" seem to me say clearly that she resisted force with force.

I had always imagined that "hired your hand" was a special idiom meaning "married you", but the OED records no such thing. In context I still think that's what it has to mean. Perhaps "hire" alludes to the dowry; but all the senses in the OED refer to *temporary* possession of someone or something, which seems out of place in referring to a marriage.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: There's nothing between the North Pole and Texas but a barbed-wire fence. :||


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 10:20 AM

I just came to what seems to me a reasonable conclusion:

The four and twenty came FROM Strathdon to take Eppie back with them to Strathdon. She's not saying she'll not marry, but none of the raiders or anyone else from Strathdon is acceptable.

Can anyone shed light on the geography of this song? "Carron", I've interpreted as perhaps a river forming the boundary between Strathdon and whatever Eppie's area name is. Does this make sense?

And as to the imputation of impotence, this could be the meaning, but not as a fact, only as a further insult to one who couldn't "carry the day", so to speak.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 12:27 PM

My guess at the "hired your hand" bit is that "your hand" is the maid of Scallater herself - one of Willie's hired hands: she was looking forward to Willie's new wife offering her a cushy job as lady's maid instead of the hard work a general servant has to do. So she's cursing Wille for dashing her career prospects.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Jacqui
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 12:37 PM

"And what kind of a name is "Eppie"? "

The name Eppie is a diminutive of the biblical name Hepzibah, it was used by George Eliot in her novel Silas Marner.

I think this is a great ballad, and have sung it for many years, though the best rendering I have ever heard is Sylvia Barnes' version. If you ever get the chance to hear this wonderful scottish singer do go along; her version of Prince Heathen will have you in tears.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 03:11 PM

Strathdon is a village near the headwaters of the River Don, about 60 Km west of Aberdeen. Carron is on the north Bank of the River Spey, 20 Km south of Elgin and about 30 Km (in a straight line over mountainous coubtry) from Strathdon.

But in the song Strathdon and Carron are more or less equivalent, so that does not seem to make a lot of sense


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 08:13 AM

Just to clarify a point, the Earls of Breadalbane are the Campbells so the mysterious John Forsyth must be some one else.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Helen
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 06:46 PM

My interpretations are:

* That she won't marry a man from Strathdon, but that doesn't mean she won't marry someone else;

* That Willie couldn't get close enough to her to "do the deed" rather than that he was impotent (i.e like trying to have sex with a fighting, spitting, clawing, biting wildcat) but he would have lost a LOT of street cred with his buddies by not being able to overpower her. It was a big, strategic move for him to kidnap her, with the 24 men, and he would have had to be pretty confident that once he had her locked in his bedchamber that it would be a simple matter to have sex with her, trusting that she would have to marry him afterwards according to tradition. To have failed at the consummation, and to have EM loudly proclaiming that fact, would have been Willie's worst nightmare, I think, having risked so much to achieve his goal.

* I don't agree, Snuffy, about the maid bemoaning that she would not be hired now, because the wording makes it mean that the maid is talking about EM -
"Ye micht hae ta'en her maidenheid,
She would hae hired your hand."

* I agree that asking Willie to get a horse for her "and get it like a man" probably means that he has to face the fact that he took a big gamble and lost, and just as she would have had to play the game and marry him if he succeeded then he has to play the game and give her back to her mother, a maiden as she came.

* As to the name Eppie, I remembered that it was the main character's name in Silas Marner, but I couldn't remember what it was a nickname for, so thanks, Jacquie.

* When Willie threatens the priest and says marry us "or else I'll be your priest" I think he is saying he will shoot the priest dead and deliver his last rites himself.

Lastly, I read a potboiler novel years ago (lent to me by a harp player I met at the Oz National Folk Festival about 20 years ago, by the way) called The Lady of Hay, by Barbara Erskine. The storyline is more complex, but the Lady of the story is treated very badly by her husband and he tries to dominate her but her spirit can not be broken despite the worst he can throw at her, so this book reminds me of Eppie Morrie, and sort of fills out some details in my imagination, and makes the song even more powerful.

Thanks for reviving this thread. I had forgotten about it. I'll have to listen to my Sileas CD again, now.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 08:53 PM

Wandering Minstrel: Professor Child thought otherwise. In his synopsis he says: "She defends herself successfully, and in the morning comes in her lover, Belbordlane, or John Forsyth, well armed, and we presume well supported,...". Was there perhaps actually a Belbordlane, distinct from Breadalbane? Google finds it nowhere but in this ballad. It seems to me to be an unlikely corruption of Breadalbane; the other way around, far more likely. But if it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Don't call him a fool; ask yourself _whose_ fool. :||


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 10:00 PM

Typically, "spey" or "spae" is "the opening or slit in a gown or petticoat, etc." Willie didn't even manage to get into her underwear if we are to take the definition usual in Scots dictionaries; though perhaps MacColl or his source had other ideas.

"Hire" here is probably "to accept, welcome"; particularly in the context of a dealing or trading transaction (see for example Alexander Warrack, Scots Dialect Dictionary), which is essentially what the Scottish custom of marriage-by-abduction was.

So far as other interpretations go, remember that the text under discussion here is Ewan MacColl's. He published it in The Singing Island, 1960, 32; saying that it came "from the singing of William Miller of Stirling and Samuel Wylie of Falkirk, Stirlingshire." William was Ewan's father, of course; and the Miller family do seem to have been unusually fortunate in their possession of rare ballads, and melodies for them, unknown elsewhere.

Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, III, 361-2, quotes text and tune, adding: "Mr Ewan MacColl is the sole authority for a tune of this very spirited, if brutal, ballad of bride-stealing. He learned his tune from his father; the text has come mostly from Maidment" [North Country Garland, 1824, 40)] "by way of Child, with some help from Samuel Wylie of Falkirk" [presumably the three extra verses]. "I am unable to point to any analogues for the melody, which does splendid service in MacColl's vigorous rendition."

Of Maidment's text, Child notes "He does not tell us where the ballad came from, and no other editor seems to know of it."

Maidment felt that the ballad was "evidently founded on fact", but failed to trace it to any historical event. It's unsurprising if there are inconsistencies in names and so on, and there may not be much mileage in worrying about them. As like as not it is pure fiction, though, as Maidment also observed, the circumstances which gave rise to it were common enough.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Steve Byrne
Date: 18 Aug 08 - 07:29 PM

Whilst researching this song for the digitisation project of the School of Scottish Studies material, I have come across some key elements to the places and people in the story that may not have been mentioned thus far, certainly doesn't seem so in this thread. Forgive me if I am repeating what's already known elsewhere.

The "Carrie side" given by Child from Maidment, is, as Child suggests himself, possibly Carvie side. The Water of Carvie is a stream which joins the River Don southwest of Strathdon, near Candacraig.

The maid of Scalletter et al, refers to Skellater, the name of a farmstead and house of the Jacobite Forbes' of Skellater, built in 1727, a little further west along the Don. It's just possible that these Forbeses were related somehow to the Forbeses of Edom o Gordon.

Carvie and Skellater are difficult to find on modern maps now.

Am still working on the Breadalbane/Belbordlane/John Forsyth references!


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Steve Byrne
Date: 18 Aug 08 - 07:30 PM

Oops, I forgot to add, the Carron could be a local Falkirk interpolation by MacColl or his source(s), given the town and river nearby.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 12:55 PM

I am sure that the line about the "Maid of Scalleter" was mis-heard by Child, and perpetuated by everyone who came after. "In came the Maid of Scalleter/ with a gown and shirt alone" (to render it in standard English) is a poor line in an otherwise splendid piece. Why should we care about the birthplace of the chambermaid? Does it add anything to the story to know that she came from a little farmstead 10 or 20 miles away? Why is it necessary to say she came on her own? Would it matter if a whole chorus-line of maids trooped in? The line is a dud and detracts from the momentum of the narrative.

Scots and border ballads tend to have lyrics which are direct and succinct, with little or nothing in the way of extraneous or even descriptive matter. I believe the line should be :-

"In came the maid to scallet her/ with a gown and shirt of lawn."

"To scallet" is a Lallands verb with the primary meaning of "to divide" and the secondary derivative sense of "to comb hair". The maid came in, possibly alone, but certainly with a shirt "of lawn", which is fine linen. So :- The maid came in, bringing with her a gown and shirt of fine linen. She has come to get Eppie ready for the bridal breakfast with her new in-laws.

There is some difficulty as well with the line "If ye had ta'en her maidenhead she would have hired your hand." I beleieve MacColl sang "would have hired your horn", which makes sense. "If you had had sex with her, she would have paid you for the pleasure".


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 06:09 PM

In 1953 Alan Lomax got two verses from Jimmy MacBeath.

Haud awa frae me Willie, haud awa frae me
An before ah'll loss ma maidenhead, ah'll try ma strength wi thee, wi thee
Ah'll try ma strength wi thee

He kissed her on the shoulder's blade an held her shoulders twa
An aye she grat an aye she spat an turnt tae the wa, the wa
An turnt tae the wa

The tune is similar to MacColl's but differs particularly in the last line.
Jimmy might have got it from MacColl's singing. I'm not the only one who laments that Lomax seemed disinterested and did not follow it up, but maybe he already knew Jimmy did not have more.
The recording is on Two Gentlemen of the Road, Rounder 82161-1793-2.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 07:25 PM

I don't have MacColl's version handy, but I think that he sang "Aye she *scrat* ["scratched" for us Sassenachs] and aye she spat an turnt to the wa' ". That certainly gives Eppie a much more suitably belligerent attitude than "grat".


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Joe_F
Date: 19 Aug 08 - 09:31 PM

JeffB: Child, I believe, never had the chance to mishear the song, because he never heard it. He edited & compared MSs.

MacColl has "grat" both on _Scottish Popular Songs_ (FW8757) and in the accompanying booklet, where the word is glossed as "wept". The stanza containing it is not in Maidment's text (the only one in Child), so MacColl must have heard (or misheard) it from his father or from Samuel Wylie, whom he names as his other sources. I agree that "scrat" would be truer to the spirit of the story.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 12:30 AM

In his own transcription, MacColl (Singing Island, 1960, 32) quotes the words as 'hired your hand', not 'hired your horn'; and 'aye she grat', not 'aye she scrat'; so presumably that is what he thought he was singing. The former he apparently got from Maidment, the latter presumably from Samuel Wylie or perhaps William Miller.

That take on 'Scallater' / 'scallet her' is interesting. The word isn't one I've come across in the usual Scots dictionaries. Where do you know it from? When you say 'Lallans', do you mean the Lowland dialect or the literary construct drawn from wider sources? Although Maidment identifies no source for his text, Aberdeenshire seems likely enough; though MacColl's oral sources (and we don't know whether either or both of them had that verse) were both rather further south, in Stirlingshire. If there is a mis-hearing involved, then it was Maidment's, or his unknown source's, and dates to before Child was born.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Doc John
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 08:50 AM

I've always been puzzeled by the juxtaposition of 'minister' (used in the Scottish Presbyterian church, and elsewhere, for a clergyman ans 'priest' which usually signifies a Roman Catholic clergyman. This must be deliberate. I've dug out a Lowland Scots dictionary where 'be someone's priest' is defined as 'cause someone's death' Late 18th - early 19th century use it seems.
Doc John


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: robinia
Date: 20 Aug 08 - 08:52 PM

(Dick Greenspan) "am I the only one who isn't sure that unsuccessful forcible sex songs (Eppie Morrie, the Baffled Kight etc) are less an objection to rape than they are of insufficient force being used? Read the words. Preferably without today's mind-set."

Thanks for bring this up, Dick! It's a topic--definitely outside of today's mindset--that I explore at some length here, with a whole page ("Eppie Morrie and Rob Roy: reality and deep play") given over to the ballad in question.   

My site is also unfinished and long neglected (incorporating short audiofiles proved harder than expected). And unnecessarily complicated? That's the trouble with thinking about something for too long and getting too little feedback. You tend to lose the reader. So thank you, Dick, for reminding me that I still have work to do.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 22 Aug 08 - 03:00 PM

I have an unexpected problem, which is as vexing as it it puzzling, in substantiating my statement that "to scallet" is a Scots verb meaning "to divide", and by extension "to comb". I had been unhappy about about the "Maid o' Scalleter" phrase for some time, and about two years ago I researched it on the Net. I am pretty sure that I used the Dictionary of the Scottish Language website, and utterly adamant that I found the sense of combing among a great many others. But on re-visiting the site it is nowhere to be found. A thorough search has drawn a blank, as has an e-mail to the staff at DSL. So, I am at a complete loss as to where I got it from.

There is to "sc(k)ail", which means to disperse, send away, divide up, dismiss, and sundry other senses, with a derivation from a Norse root meaning "to divide", but the specific sense of combing is not mentioned. Nevertheless, on the grounds that one does not have hallucinations about dictionaries, I am standing by this, though without any expectation that anyone will believe me.

But perhaps others might agree that a "shirt o' lawn" is a better phrase than "alane", making more sense as well as preserving the rhyme. And on the basis of rhyme, which is consistent throughout the ballad, and I shall revise my opinion of the "hire your hand" line. I was convinced that MacColl sang "horn", but as everyone else is convinced it was "hand" then I'll go along with it and sing that in future. Presumably their hearing is better than MacColl's accent. As "to hire a hand" means to engage a workman, I suppose that this line means " ... she would have taken you on full-time."

But I will continue to sing "aye she scrat" - it's far better than "grat" in the second half of the song.

Malcolm : The DSL does have an entry for "spey", but in the specific sense of a sluice built on the River Tay. Obviously, one can assume a link of sorts between a sluice and a slit in a night-gown, but do you have a refernce for your meaning?

Robinia : just a small point about the mention in your website of how you are baffled by the "Hauld awa' " to her mother. Eppie has been seized by a gang of roughs and her mother has run out to her. She is simply telling her mother to stay away so that she isn't hurt, and re-assures her that no man will marry her.

I always thought there was a slight hiatus in the action between verses 1 and 2, so I put in my own verse at that point to explain what's going on ...

They've gone to Eppie Morrie's house and broken down the door,
and aye she grat and aye she spat and aye her folk did roar.

As a Sassenach, it sounds alright to me, but I've never run it past a native speaker. I'm bracing myself for the howls from the critics.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Aug 08 - 07:39 PM

My comment on the hand/horn question was based not on listening to MacColl's singing, but on MacColl's own transcription of the words: his understanding then, rather than mine.

As for 'spey', Alexander Warrack's Scots Dialect Dictionary (also issued as Chambers' Scots Dictionary) has 'spey same as spae' and 'spae n the opening or slit in a gown, petticoat, etc.'


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 02:48 AM

Alex Dobkin's version is mentioned above, and I, for one,
like it a lot. It's on her "Lavender Jane Loves Women".
Dobkin came from Philly and was "just" a folksinger
before she made a bigger name for herself doing lesbian
and feminist songs. She has a great voice, really strong,
perfect for those eastern European women's folksongs that
are traditionally sung at a high volume. She has some of
those on "Lavender Jane" too.

As far as the translation of the Scots dialect, the
authenticity of various lyrics, and the dates attributed
to the collection of various versions, I'm not going near
any of that with a ten foot pole! I'm leaving that to
the musicologists, historians, linguists, and other
scholars, amateur or professional. All I know is I like
the song!

Marymac


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,CarolMG
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 04:12 PM

Could EM be a response to the more typical bride stealing ballads with their tiresome, weeping women? I'm reminded of "Rob Roy frae the Highlands Cam." I like the tune, but not the bride. To compare these two ballads: both have bands of men coming down on horseback from the Highlands to steal an unwilling bride, both ballads have an ineffective mother and no father. In both, the man carries the unwilling bride to a priest, and both show us how the couple reacts the day after. But there are significant differences. In the RR ballad, the unwilling bride fights with "cries and wat'ry eyes" addressed to her mother and then to her kidnapper. EM, in contrast, orders Willie to stand back and declares she will not marry him or any such other. As suggested in an earlier post, perhaps EM was even trying to protect her mother, again acting from strength. The weak bride in RR is unsuccessful and we learn how "mournfully she wept and cried when she by him was laid." I've been trying to figure out why EM is so captivating. I think it is her bold character. I like the tune and her. Last thought: does anyone else think it odd that EM knows her attacker's first name and addresses him so? By the way, despite the title of the song, the kidnapper in RR claims to be Rob Roy's son, not RR himself.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 05:06 PM

Of course it doesn't matter if you only want to sing a good story, but if you are seriously researching genuine ballads it's quite likely that this is one of the many fake ballads made up by collectors/antiquarians in the late 18th/early nineteenth centuries. Maidment gives no source for the ballad, and MacColl is hardly a reliable source. It could even be one of Peter Buchan's many concoctions. Maidment was closely connected with Peter.
It certainly doesn't ring true to me.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 05:40 PM

Just decided to read the whole thread and it looks like Toadfrog
15th July 01 is saying pretty much what I've just said. Is Toadfrog still around? If so please do get in touch. My email's on the Yorkshire Garland website.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Joe_F
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 09:16 PM

Robinia: "Insufficient force" is certainly *one* attitude expressed in the song, viz. by the maid of Scalleter, who taunts Willy with that very "failing" ("couldna prove a man"). But I hope & believe that we are meant equally (and perhaps even more) to admire Eppie's *sufficient* force in resisting him. As I argued earlier in this thread, this song appears to represent a culture in which physical courage (and likewise, I should add, prowess & determination) are admired in women as well as in men. One could make a nice collection of songs about women who bloody well knew what they wanted & how to get it.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 05:17 AM

Of course it doesn't matter if you only want to sing a good story, but if you are seriously researching genuine ballads it's quite likely that this is one of the many fake ballads made up by collectors/antiquarians in the late 18th/early nineteenth centuries. Maidment gives no source for the ballad, and MacColl is hardly a reliable source. It could even be one of Peter Buchan's many concoctions. Maidment was closely connected with Peter.
It certainly doesn't ring true to me.
Steve,how do you define a genuine ballad?


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM

Aaaargh !! No Cap'n, don't go there! "Genuine ballads?" 'Tis a voyage with no safe port at the end of it, but endlessly drifting from our course in the doldrums of circlar talk. 'Tis a search for a rainbow's end, wi no chest of treasure to be found, but naught but a can o' worms.

Steve : Having never seen an original volume of Child's I don't know if he quoted his sources either. But before the great English song collectors at the end of 19th C, did anyone? Avoiding the question of "what is a genuine ballad", I am not sure how most of them can be dated. There are occasional references to what we now call ballads from the late medieval period (I am thinking of the 14thC - 17thC) which quote the names by which they were then known. If those names are the same as some which have survived then the assumption is that they are the same ballads. Whether or not that assumption is reasonable is another question. On balance I think so, but others might well disagree. And some are about historical events, so "The Battle of Otterburn" cannot be older than 1388, and "Kinmont Willie" not before the late 17thC (or whenever that raid on Carlisle Castle occurred). I suppose this kind of ballad from this approximate 300-yr period is your particular interest, and is what you feel to be the genuine article.

The question of "fake songs" is a very thorny one of course, and was recently discussed (and discussed, and discussed ... ) in the recent threads about Bert Lloyd's compositions. If anyone wants to revive it, perhaps it deserves it own permathread because this one will run and run. My own feeling is that there is no such thing as a fake song. And yes, when it comes to narrative song, I *would* rather sing a good story. Even if it could be proved that "Eppie Morrie" was written by Cole Porter I would still enjoy singing it, and would prefer to sing it in preference to the 150+ verses of "The Geste of Robin Hood". But there you are, different strokes for different folks.

As for "Eppie Morrie" itself, I suspect that the scene of action has been changed from an original one, but I would not care to guess its age. It would need an expert studying the original Mss available to Child for us to have an opinion as to a minimum age, and it would still be an opinion.

CarolMG : Have a look at Robinia's comment above. She has written/ is writing a dissertation of Rob Roy and Eppie Morrie. It's way above my head, so until I 've re-read it I cannot comment on it, but I am sure you will find it interesting.


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 04:21 PM

JeffB

Steve : Having never seen an original volume of Child's I don't know if he quoted his sources either.
                      (He did)

There are occasional references to what we now call ballads from the late medieval period (I am thinking of the 14thC - 17thC) which quote the names by which they were then known. If those names are the same as some which have survived then the assumption is that they are the same ballads. Whether or not that assumption is reasonable is another question.            (I'd say IMHO that's reasonable, but only a very few are mentioned in this way and EM isn't one of them)

(Like Child I believe the 'genuine' ballads are those that spent some time after they were written in the repertoire of the common people.)

when it comes to narrative song, I *would* rather sing a good story. Even if it could be proved that "Eppie Morrie" was written by Cole Porter I would still enjoy singing it, and would prefer to sing it in preference to the 150+ verses of "The Geste of Robin Hood".
          (Absolutely and I would defend your stance with my life!)

But there you are, different strokes for different folks. (Absolutely, and didn't I say so?)

I would not care to guess its age. It would need an expert studying the original Mss available to Child for us to have an opinion as to a minimum age, and it would still be an opinion.
      (Rather conveniently there doesn't appear to have been a manuscript in this case. Child took it, like everyone else, from Maidment's book. And yes we can only express an opinion on it, and yours is as good as mine.)


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Subject: Lyr Add: EPPIE MORRIE (from F. J. Child)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:02 PM

Child, Francis James. English and Scottish Ballads, vol. 6. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1858, page 260f:

EPPIE MORRIE.
From Maidment's North Countrie Garland, p. 40.

"THIS ballad is probably much more than a century old, though the circumstances which have given rise to it were fortunately too common to preclude the possibility of its being of a later date. Although evidently founded on fact, the editor has not hitherto discovered the particular circumstances out of which it has originated."

[1] FOUR and twenty Highland men
Came a' from Carrie side,
To steal awa' Eppie Morrie,
'Cause she would not be a bride.

[2] Out it's cam her mother,
It was a moonlight night,
She could not see her daughter.
The sands they shin'd so bright.

[3] "Haud far awa' frae me, mother,
Haud far awa' frae me;
There's not a man in a' Strathdon
Shall wedded be with me."

[4] They have taken Eppie Morrie,
And horseback bound her on,
And then awa' to the minister,
As fast as horse could gang.

[5] He's taken out a pistol,
And set it to the minister's breast;
"Marry me, marry me, minister,
Or else I'll be your priest."

[6] "Haud far awa' frae me, good sir,
"Haud far awa' frae me;
For there's not a man in a' Strathdon
That shall married be with me."

[7] "Haud far awa' frae me, Willie.
Haud far awa' frae me;
For I darna avow to marry you,
Except she's as willing as ye."

[8] They have taken Eppie Morrie,
Since better could nae be,
And they're awa' to Carrie side,
As fast as horse could flee.

[9] Then mass was sung, and bells were rung,
And all were bound for bed,
Then Willie an' Eppie Morrie
In one bed they were laid.

[10] "Haud far awa' frae me, Willie,
Haud far awa' frae me;
Before I'll lose my maidenhead,
I'll try my strength with thee."

[11] She took the cap from off her head,
And threw it to the way;
Said, "Ere I lose my maidenhead,
I'll fight with you till day."

[12] Then early in the morning,
Before her clothes were on,
In came the maiden of Scalletter,
Grown and shirt alone.

[13] "Get up, get up, young woman,
And drink the wine wi' me;"
"You might have called me maiden,
I'm sure as leal as thee."

[14] "Wally fa' you, Willie,
That ye could nae prove a man,
And taen the lassie's maidenhead;
She would have hired your han'."

[15] "Haud far awa' frae me, lady,
Haud far awa' frae me;
There's not a man in a' Strathdon,
The day shall wed wi' me."

[16] Soon in there came Belbordlane,
With a pistol on every side;
"Come awa' hame, Eppie Morrie,
And there you'll be my bride."

[17] "Go get to me a horse, Willie,
And get it like a man,
And send me back to my mother,
A maiden as I cam.

[18] "The sun shines o'er the westlin hills,
By the light lamp of the moon,
Just saddle your horse, young John Forsyth,
And whistle, and I'll come soon."


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Subject: RE: Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?
From: GUEST,Entspinster.livejournal
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 02:25 PM

Note that the original has not "maid" but "maiden of Scalletter". From the first time I heard the McColl recording I assumed that the "maiden" was a female relative of Willie's-- perhaps an as yet unmarried sister. Maid as a job catagory is a secondary meaning, the primary mening is "virgin", as in maidenhead. Thus EM claims to be as "leal" (whole, perhaps, or loyal, chaste) as the maiden who has come in to patronize her. Female employees, though usually unmarried, were by no means always virgins! Also it would be truely insolent for a servant to speak to Willie as the maiden does, while a sister or aunt might get away with it. Why would a relative want Willie to suceed? Perhaps EM "came with" a "portion" or dowery of land or money? Willie apparently wants the rights of a husband, not just sex.

As for the mysterious "rescuer", my guess would be that two different singers added those verses to cater to mail vanity. Not pride or sexual disgust, but true love for another, prompts EM's heroism, they say. "Breadalbane" in one version comes after her. "Forsythe" in the second version is not on the scene at all, but EM promises to come to him-- perhaps that evening.

One might say that this song is the "flip side" of "The False Lover Won Back", where the man's lover refuses to be abandoned, and follows his horse on foot until he gives in and buys her a wedding ring.


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