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Bonny at Morn - information?

DigiTrad:
BONNY AT MORN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Bonnie at ???? (5) (closed)
Lyr Req: Bonny at Morn (16)
Lyr Req: Bonny at Morn (2) (closed)


Sarah T 27 Oct 01 - 12:47 AM
Herga Kitty 27 Oct 01 - 04:09 AM
Roger in Sheffield 27 Oct 01 - 05:22 AM
Roger in Sheffield 27 Oct 01 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Dermod in Salisbury 27 Oct 01 - 07:15 AM
Sarah T 27 Oct 01 - 09:05 AM
Hollowfox 27 Oct 01 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,MCP 27 Oct 01 - 09:52 AM
Learchild 27 Oct 01 - 02:17 PM
8_Pints 27 Oct 01 - 02:37 PM
Susanne (skw) 27 Oct 01 - 07:20 PM
Sarah T 29 Oct 01 - 11:08 PM
Garry Gillard 30 Oct 01 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Lymond 11 Jun 10 - 05:12 PM
Tootler 11 Jun 10 - 05:56 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jun 10 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,guest in vancouver 27 Sep 10 - 06:12 PM
Steve Shaw 27 Sep 10 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Peter Wray 13 Oct 10 - 06:42 PM
Herga Kitty 13 Oct 10 - 07:08 PM
Tattie Bogle 13 Oct 10 - 08:31 PM
Santa 14 Oct 10 - 05:59 AM
Tootler 14 Oct 10 - 01:40 PM
Anne Lister 15 Oct 10 - 10:48 AM
GUEST 25 Oct 11 - 02:03 PM
Paul Burke 25 Oct 11 - 04:59 PM
gnomad 26 Oct 11 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Oct 11 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Oct 11 - 10:30 AM
Northerner 26 Oct 11 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,PatrickH 26 Oct 11 - 02:38 PM
gnomad 26 Oct 11 - 03:46 PM
Joe Offer 26 Oct 11 - 06:43 PM
Jack Campin 26 Oct 11 - 07:28 PM
Joe Offer 26 Oct 11 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Oct 11 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,it's magic 18 Nov 15 - 08:04 PM
bubblyrat 19 Nov 15 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Garybeac 26 Dec 16 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 26 Dec 16 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Bimler 31 Mar 17 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,John 24 Dec 17 - 07:52 PM
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Subject: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Sarah T
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 12:47 AM

Hello folks, I'm looking for more information about the beautiful lullaby Bonny at Morn. A Mudcat search turned up the lyrics plus the fact that it was Northumbrian (did I get that right?). Do any of you know more about its origins, or what is meant in the verse that starts "We're o'er long idle with the keeping of the bairn?" Thanks, Sarah


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 04:09 AM

Sarah

The album note for Anni Fentiman's recording (on Together / Solo with Dave Webber) says it's a traditional song that most children in the North East of England learnt at school. I've always assumed that verse meant that the women couldn't get on with their other work because they had to see to the children.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 05:22 AM

other thread
The 1998 reprint of The Northumbrian Minstrelsy (first published 1882) has Bonny at Morn on page 88, the tune and words.
The only description in the book is this...

The song "Bonny at Morn" gives us a pretty picture of family life. The baby awakes a little too early, but the big lad and the big lass are loath to rise; hence the interjaculatory phrases "Thou's ower lang in thy bed" in the midst of the song.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 05:57 AM

The links from the other thread have a midi in G minor as in the book. Jc's has it in A minor (via RR tunebook) and I always play it in another key altogether (Eminor?) that is more whistle friendly


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Dermod in Salisbury
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 07:15 AM

Nice to hear that others have been struck by this song which I came across by chance on an obscure CD by an Oxfordshire folk group. As remarked by Roger of Sheffield it is, oddly, notated mistakenly in Gmajor in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy, it is of cours a minor/modal melody. The open bars have a striking resemblance to those a piece of medieval Spanish church music, also heard by change on BBC Radio 3 some time ago. So the origins are undoubtedly old. I have adapted the melody slightly, put competely new words to it, and scored it for unaccompanied choir. The result was first sung at a carol service in London last year. It is being sung again this year elsewhere. The melody's simplicity is very effective and I tried to reflect this is the new words. I like the 'original' words, but think their effect is limited unless performed by somebody with a feel for the dialect. Happy listening.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Sarah T
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 09:05 AM

Thanks for linking to the other thread, Roger. Somehow it didn't come up when I did a Forum search. Seems like there's a lot of opinions about what the verses mean! --Sarah


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 09:22 AM

Just right now, it perfectly describes my three teenagers.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 09:52 AM

Dermod

If you want to see an interesting arrangement of this, see the guitar accompaniment by Benjamin Britten in his Folk Song Arrangements Vol 6(? - can't seem to find it at the moment to check).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Learchild
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 02:17 PM

Hi Sarah I'm from Northumberland and like kids in many parts of the country I never really got to sing 'folk songs' from my own area at school- but I'm making up for it now. This song is sung quite a lot in our local folk clubs and by the Tyneside Maritime chorus. I'm sorry to here that someone has used the tune but dropped the original words in favour ones he's written himself. I appreciate that there is strong feeling about only singing songs in your own dialect but honestly is'nt it better to spread the knowledge of song and just go for it - just flatten the vowels a little!. Anyway what Herga and Roger have said about that verse fits with our interpretation of the song. It is considered to be a lullabye, so sing it tenderly. Sing it lots!.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: 8_Pints
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 02:37 PM

I agree with Learchild.

It is a traditional classic in its own right and needs no modernising.

Bob vG


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 07:20 PM

Jean Redpath recorded it on 'Lowlands' (1980)(lyrics). Info by A. L. Lloyd:
[1965:] Northumbria is the only part of England with its own regional music-dialect, its own stock of melodies that are distinct in style from tunes anywhere else in the country. And of this style, Bonny at Morn is one of the masterpieces. Its peculiarity no doubt derives from the character of the local northeastern bagpipe, and the tune was surely an instrumental one before words became attached to it. A great, if neglected, pioneer folk song collector, John Bell, noted the song at the outset of the nineteenth century, but it wasn't printed until 1882, in The Northumbrian Minstrelsy. The poem takes a curious twofold form; in part it's a lullaby addressed to a baby, and in part it's reproach to a lazy son who is 'ower lang' in his bed and won't get up. (A.L. Lloyd, notes 'New Voices')


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Sarah T
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 11:08 PM

Thanks to all for your comments, and especially to Learchild for your local perspective. I feel like I understand it a little better now. I learned it from Jean Redpath's recording and will be singing it lots. Best wishes, Sarah


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 30 Oct 01 - 12:12 AM

Bob Fox & Stu Luckley recorded this song on Nowt So Good'll Pass, RubberRecords RUB028, 1978, one of those recordings which ... but we won't go into that again.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Lymond
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 05:12 PM

Always found it slightly odd how many of the word are common usage in Scots dialects. Perhaps it all came from the Tyneside? :-)


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 05:56 PM

Carolyn Robson does a superb version of this song on the Kathryn Tickell Album "Northumbrian Collection" which is where I first heard it.

I always felt it described my daughters when they were in their teens.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:46 PM

it is, oddly, notated mistakenly in Gmajor in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy

I have the facsimile from Llanerch, and that has an erratum squiffily printed above the score explaining that key signature is wrong. It must have been been inserted in a very early printing, so I doubt they left the mistake for very long.

I have all the Minstrelsy tunes in ABC on my site:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/BruceStokoe.abc


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,guest in vancouver
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 06:12 PM

After listening several times in a row to Bonnie at Morn, in love with the melody, this Mother Goose Rhyme came to my mind: "Little boy blue, come blow your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. Where's the little boy who looks after the sheep? He's under the haystack, fast asleep." Same old story, it sounds like.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 07:12 PM

The tune makes a lovely slow air.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Peter Wray
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 06:42 PM

Folks seem to think that the phrase "thou's ower land in thy bed" is a complaint about idleness, but it isn't. It's actually the mother remarking that her child is outgrowing his/her cot. Simples!


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 07:08 PM

I thought it was ower lang?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 08:31 PM

And the other words seem to suggest idleness:
"The lad winna work and the lass winna learn". (How many babies in cots go out to work??)
Definitely recognise being "ower lang in thy bed" from my 2 offspring!


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Santa
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 05:59 AM

Lymond: The spread of "English" in the North was due to the Northumbrian Kingdom which spread over Lowland Scotland and Northern England, so it isn't surprising that many dialect words are common to both areas.

Some of the genetic evidence appearing nowadays is pointing to a much older "Germanic" influence over the whole of eastern Britain, which sheds a new light on the spread of Anglo-Saxon culture after the Romans left. Fascinating stuff.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 01:40 PM

I assumed Peter Wray was trying to wind us up, so I decided not to respond. The best way to deal with such folk. Especially if they can't even quote the line correctly.

He only wanted an excuse to say "Simples" and accompany it with a funny squeaking noise.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 10:48 AM

Lymond ...a Dorothy Dunnett fan, by any chance?


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 02:03 PM

May I apologise for my typing error in my previous post; of course the line is "thou's ower lang in thy bed". It does, nevertheless, refer to the speedy grown of the infant, rather than its, or anyone else's, idleness. The other line, mentioned by Tattie Bogle, "the lad winnat work and the lass winnat learn", refers to older siblings, the older brother being reluctant to go to work and the older sister being equally ambivalent to her lessons, because of the distractions of the cute baby. Tootler's assumption that I was trying to "...wind us up..." is incorrect; I was merely trying to help out with a query by clarifying some County Durham and Tyneside phrases with which people may not be familiar. I'm sorry that my, obviously poor, attempt at humour gave offence to anyone - it certainly wasn't my intention.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Oct 11 - 04:59 PM

I find that surprisingly unconvincing. The words aren't "ower lang in thy cot". I'm not even convinced that the ower lang bit is directed at the bairn- I suspect it's actually the husband. As the "canny at neet" bit probably is too.

The spread of "English" in the North was due to the Northumbrian Kingdom which spread over Lowland Scotland and Northern England, so it isn't surprising that many dialect words are common to both areas.

I have to take issue with that too (I am in a contrary mood today). It's true that the ancient Kingdom of Northumberland stretched from the Humber to the Forth, but the English they spoke wasn't a bit like Geordie or Scots, which are both modern English dialects. English may have spread throughout Scotland as a lingua franca in an area with Brythonic, Gaelic and Pictish speakers (if that last was different from Brythonic), but it also kept close step with developments south of the border. It dropped the whole mechanisms of gender and concordance, if not at exactly the same time as southern English, but at least in time to catch up with the 15th-16th century modernisation- 16th century Scots is far more like Shakespeare's English than Chaucer's.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: gnomad
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 04:05 AM

'Ower lang' also appears in 'Hae ye seen owt o' my bonny lad', in such circumstances that no reference to height can reasonably be inferred. That is, of course, not proof of meaning in this case, but like some others I find the laziness explanation both more obvious and more convincing.

The overlap of some phraseology between lowland Scots dialect and the speech of Northumberland and on into North Yorkshire is noticeable, even to a lay person such as me. There is also clear Scandinavian influence in the matter of place-naming. Is there any reason why a vestigial Danish influence should not locally survive the modernisation of which PaulB writes? It certainly appears to me that it did so.

Oh, and to Guest Peter Wray; don't fret too much about a bit of humour going awry, that happens a fair bit here and nobody gets hurt.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 04:50 AM

Interestingly, in My Bonny Lad it is Ower Land rather than Ower Lang, thus echoing the original typo, but getting further away from the meaning which Gnomad suggests is the same as in BOM which is obviously isn't, because then you get he's gone ower lang with a stick in his hand which makes no sense and loses the rhyme. Otherwise ower lang in thy bed is about laziness, or rather perceived laziness, or maybe something more picturesque perhaps? Assuming the lad & lass aren't actually related of course, or maybe they are - kissing cousins in the Northumbrian wilds, keenly (and cannily) copulating morn and night in their one room hovel whilst the grandmother (who'll only be in her early thirties, but feeling pretty old even so) looks after her baby grandchild. Grim stuff...


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 10:30 AM

Thanks for posting the beautiful tune, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Northerner
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 11:30 AM

Bonny at Morn was also sung by the late Ray Fisher. You can hear it on her Bonny Birdy CD.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,PatrickH
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 02:38 PM

And Ray sang "We're a' laid idle with the keeping of the bairn," which makes more sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: gnomad
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 03:46 PM

Interesting that you have Ower Land, Suibhne, I have always heard it as Ower Lang, i.e. for too long (hence the query "hae ye seen owt etc") this is the same context in which I take the term in the main song under discussion.
While clearly land/hand produce a perfect rhyme, whereas lang/hand are merely close enough to be sung, I don't have access to a reliable printed source for either. Anybody?
Incidentally, the version I've heard has MBL being gone with a stake rather than a stick, presumably for mooring purposes. The sense conveyed is thus different from that in Suibhne's version, but not nonsense. I suppose that one version or the other (perhaps both, even) offers a fair example of the folk process in action.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 06:43 PM

Gee, there's not much in the Traditional Ballad Index, only a reference to Stokoe & Reay, Songs & Ballads of Northern England (1899) pp.66-67:

    Bonny at Morn

    DESCRIPTION: "The sheep's in the meadows, The kye's in the corn, Thou's ower lang in thy bed, Bonny at morn." "Canny at night, Bonny at morn, Thou's ower lang in...." The parents complain of the children's laziness: "The lad winnot work And the lass winnot lairn."
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1900 (Stokoe/Reay)
    KEYWORDS: work mother children
    FOUND IN:
    REFERENCES (2 citations):
    Stokoe/Reay, pp. 66-67, "Bonny at Morn" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT, BONMORN BONYMORN

    Roud #3064
    File: Stor066

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibliography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2011 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Roud Index


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 07:28 PM

How did the Ballad Index come to miss the Northumbrian Minstrelsy? It's both older and much better known than their source.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Oct 11 - 08:33 PM

Hi, Jack -
The Ballad Index does its indexing book-by-book, not song-by-song. I guess nobody has volunteered to index Northumbrian Minstrelsy - the Ballad Index emphasizes North American books, while Roud focuses on UK books (Roud has generally broader coverage with less detailed information). I haven't been able to find this public domain (published 1881) book online. Anybody know where I can find it?

Both Roud and the Ballad Index are very good, within the limits of what they attempt to do. The Ballad Index finished indexing Grieg-Duncan in its latest edition, which is a significant accomplishment. I think the Ballad Index covers most of the significant US songbook collections, but it has a long way to go before it can do the same for UK collections.

Here are links: -Joe-


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 04:44 AM

Dare I suggest that gone ower lang with a stake (or stick) in his hand is too clumsy a sentence in this context? It lacks the grace & simplicity of the other, and begs too many questions besides. On Tyneside it was always gone ower land wi' a stick in his hand which is such a great and succinct image. However, you're not alone in hearing it as ower lang; indeed one internet source has it as o'er long, which makes a sort of sense, but not a complete sense.

I can't come up with a printed source though; it's not in Bell, The Northumbrian Minstrelsy or Crawhall. I'll put the feelers out & get back if anything turns up. Meanwhile, to repeat Gnomad's plea: Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,it's magic
Date: 18 Nov 15 - 08:04 PM

I have fallen in love with this song and am eager to hear more recordings of it. My favourites up to now is by Kathryn Tickell. The duo Broom Bezzums also has a good rendition of it on the new album No Smaller Than the World.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Nov 15 - 08:26 AM

Amanda Diamond and Eddie Richards have a lovely version of this,which I have enjoyed listening to on many occasions , but I don't know if they have ever recorded it.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Garybeac
Date: 26 Dec 16 - 03:56 PM

Henry VIII's "Book of Common Prayer" included the marriage ceremony. In it wives pledged to be "bonny and buxom abed." This meant glad (bonny) and eager (buxom) to be mounted. The song is sweet and gentle, and certainly "bonny" can also mean merely glad, but the context of lying in bed implys that a female singer would be glad to be mounted on such a lovely morning.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 26 Dec 16 - 05:00 PM

Sorry to be such a pedant, but it wasn't Henry The Fat, who brought in the BCP, but his son, Edward The Bigot, in 1549. This book (well a reprint anyway) can often still be found in second-hand shops and is a fascinating read.


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - information?
From: GUEST,Bimler
Date: 31 Mar 17 - 05:36 AM

On the tangent of "Maa Bonny Lad" I have always assumed, and sung -
"He's gan ower lang wi his stick in his hand,
He's gan to row the Keel-o"

Meaning, she is concerned about how long the lad has been gone since he went to work.
Keel boats were particular craft used for ferrying coal to larger ships on the Tyne. His "stick" is the long punt-like oar which was used to drive the boat against the wind. I suppose "ower land" could describe his walk to work but "over lang" fits neatly with her enquiry in the first line -
" O ha ye heared owt o maa bonny lad?"


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Subject: RE: Bonny at Morn - possible meaning
From: GUEST,John
Date: 24 Dec 17 - 07:52 PM

Bonny at Morn
I wish to venture another possible meaning of this wonderful song.
I interpret it to be part lamentation, part resignation, of a new father, about the disruption brought by an new infant in the family .
He attributes fault to himself and his wife- that she is pleasant and lovely, "Canny", at night and beautiful , "Bonny" in the morning. "Thou's ower lang in thee bed" (refers to them having sexual intercourse) producing the bairn.
He laments the disruption "Thou hinders thee mither " and "We're all laid idle wi' keeping the bairn"
He tells of his resignation with "The lad winnot work and the lass winnot learn" refers to either himself and his wife or young couples all. That is to say, despite the disruption caused by infants, lads and lasses will continue the activity which produces them.


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