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Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse

21 May 17 - 02:05 AM (#3856230)
Subject: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,Owen


Does anybody know what's up with the last verse of Andy Irvine's version of this song? It just doesn't add up. It would just be a complete non-sequitur if not for the last line:

"In hopes that you and I might meet again."

Who is he going to meet? Didn't he just see his true love? And isn't he lying in bed with the lassie with the land?

Adding to the confusion is that I see the lyrics listed on some sites as "If I'd (rather than I) married the lassie that had the land" in the earlier verse.

The only thing that almost makes sense is that he didn't really marry the lassie with the land, but signed up for the army instead. Then he lets his lover believe he's marrying into security rather than going into some danger.

I saw on some site I had open a minute ago that perhaps this song originated around the time of the famine, which only gives the singer a reason to abandon his love and doesn't seem to help with understanding the last verse.

Thanks for any ideas!

21 May 17 - 03:06 AM (#3856234)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: BobKnight

I read somewhere that this verse, was an "orphan verse" which appears in a few songs, and has somehow become attached to this song as well. I sing this song too, and I don't try to make sense of it, just sing it. Apart from that, it's a great song. :)

21 May 17 - 03:22 AM (#3856236)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Jim Carroll

Not sure of Irvine's version, but it's always worth going back to the source of the song in order to make sense of it - the older singers tended to do a more reliable job than those who picked the songs up later
In this case, it came from Brigid Tunney of Beleek, in Fermanagh and was first recorded from her by the BBC in the early 1950s
This is her version in full (from the singing of her Grand-daughter, also Brigid)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 May 17 - 05:15 AM (#3856258)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,henryp

From Mainly Norfolk - thank you again, Reinhard;

As I Roved Out / The Deluded Lover [Roud 3479; G/D 6:1165; Ballad Index K150; trad.]

Michael Gallagher sang The Deluded Lover in 1952 to Peter Kennedy and Sean O'Boyle. This recording was included on the 1975 Folktrax cassette of songs sung by Brigid Tunney, Paddy Tunney and Michael Gallagher, The Mountain Streams. The album's liner notes commented:

Michael Gallagher, Brigid [Tunney]'s brother, Paddy [Tunney]'s Uncle Mick, was born in 1891 and, when recorded, was working as a boot repairer in Belleek. Previously he had been a farmer, and before that lived 33 years in Glasgow. Like his sister, he learned his songs from his parents and grandparents on both sides of the family, as well as from aunts, uncles and others. The Deluded Lover was from his aunt, Brigid, in Ballintra, Donegal. The title for this song was provided by the collectors; Michael called it As I Roved Out.

Michael Gallagher's nephew Paddy Tunney of Co. Fermanagh sang As I Roved Out on his 1962 Folk-Legacy album The Man of Songs. Diane Hamilton and Sean O'Boyle commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Some of the most charming of ordinary Irish love-songs are in the form of the pastourelle, which has been called the aristocratic progenitor of the "As I roved out one morning" type of ballad.

[Diane Hamilton was the pseudonym of Diane Guggenheim (1924–1991), an American mining heiress, folksong patron and founder of "Tradition Records".]

The air, which is one of the most elusive in all Irish folk-song, has never been published.

Planxty sang As I Roved Out in 1973 on their LP The Well Below the Valley and on the anthology Planète Celtique. Andy Irvine commented:

We learned this sad and beautiful song from the singing of Paddy Tunney who lives in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. He has described it as dating back to the days of the famine, when any bit of property at all was enough to tempt a man to jilt his true love in favour of the lassie with the land.

Acknowledgements; Thank you to Timothy Mellor for the information on the Michael Gallagher and Paddy Tunney recordings.

However, Mainly Norfolk does not give the words originally collected.

21 May 17 - 07:38 AM (#3856289)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Reinhard

Thank you, Henry.

I've now added Michael Gallagher's verses from Kennedy to Mainly Norfolk. But they are nearly identical to Brigid Tunney's that Jim gave us above so I don't need to copy them here. Andy Irvine's verses on the Planxty album are quite similar too except for leaving out verse three.

16 Jul 18 - 10:33 AM (#3937719)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,Nick and Simon

On close reading the last verse:

I see the metaphor here as one of force/duty against will.

The queen has dispatched her armies, and in much the same way, some force dispatches this man into marriage with the land owning woman. Whatever this force is, be it famine or pregnancy or tradition or his own error, The Queen is never good in Irish music, so lets call it (and her) a bad force.

Our hero wishes an end to the bad force that orders young men to go somewhere and do something they, presumably, would rather not do. He wishes an end to the force which dispatches him to the land owning woman so that he could return to his true love.

Although the metaphor

16 Jul 18 - 11:17 AM (#3937727)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Jim Carroll

If anybody would like a folder of recordings od Brigit Tunner's and Michael Gallagher's songs I'm more than happy to oblige (PM me an e-mail address)
The Willie Clancy Summer School has set me ablaze with the desire for people to hear these beautiful songs, so catch the fire before it goes out

16 Jul 18 - 11:46 AM (#3937733)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Jim Carroll

Tunney, of course

16 Jul 18 - 06:19 PM (#3937812)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Steve Shaw

Apart from Jim's verse three, which Andy Irvine omitted, Andy's version is almost identical with the one Jim posted.

16 Jul 18 - 10:44 PM (#3937832)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Joe Offer

The Traditional Ballad Index has listings for seven different songs title "As I Roved Out." I've grouped all our "Roved Out" songs together until I figure out a good way to distinguish one from another.

17 Jul 18 - 08:35 AM (#3937893)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,Reinhard

Well, "As I Roved Out" is a very generic phrase so it's no surprise that there are a lot of songs using it. But aside from "The Trooper and the Maid" and "Seventeen Come Sunday" which share or swap a lot (even the Traditional Ballad Index lists Seamus Ennis' "As i Roved Out" as an exemplary recording for both songs!), the other five songs are quite different in topic and easy to distinguish.

17 Jul 18 - 06:56 PM (#3938019)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,henryp

Planxty; The Well below the Valley

As I roved out (Christy)

Although the next song has the same title as one on the first side, the resemblance ends there - it is a completely different song. This version was learned from Andy Rynne of Prosperous, Co. Kildare.

Who are you, me pretty fair maid
Who are you, me honey?
She answered me modestly,
“Well I am me mammy’s darling.”

Christy Moore; I used to introduce this as having been learned from John Reilly. The singer Andy Rynne subsequently contacted me to remind me that he taught me the song at the Boyle Fleadh in 1964 after mistakenly polishing off my carry-out at a coming out party in Jack Reddys to mourn the loss of Jacks Jinnet who had fallen into a boghole on the way home after a, particularily bawdy, Comhaltas night in Pat Dowlings where poor auld Paddy Kenny mistook the Emmet Spiceland for three young slappers.

28 Apr 20 - 04:55 PM (#4049175)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse

This song is a metaphor for the Irish men who fought in the British Army, which is made clear in the last verse. The ‘lassie with the land’ is England and the true love in the meadow is Ireland, home.
I hope this is of help!

28 Apr 20 - 05:18 PM (#4049178)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,Starship

Good take from Niamh Parsons.

26 Sep 20 - 01:35 AM (#4073140)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: GUEST,Guest

Followimg on from Jim Carroll's meanings for each of the seven verses

Verse 7
And I wish the queen would call home her armies, etc

The man is in an unhappy marriage to the woman with land and he still loves his former lover and wishes he could be with her again.
So he surmises that if soldiers returned from war then perhaps the soldier who departed from the woman he is now married to will return back to his true love, and that then gives the opportunity for him to free himself from this unhappy marriage and return back to his true love.

A straightforward explanation for this seemingly out of place verse.

26 Sep 20 - 04:39 PM (#4073240)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: Felipa

"in hopes that you and I might meet again" has always seemed strange to me in the context of married couples, when the man has just said to the lassie without the land that he regrets his marriage to someone else (the lassie who had the land). Sometimes I omit it, sometimes I sing it anyway.

29 Sep 20 - 01:02 AM (#4073558)
Subject: RE: Origins: As I Roved Out - last verse
From: meself

That video of Brigid Tunney singing it is wonderful.

My own feeling is that the last verse was not part of the original song. It happens now and then in trad. songs that some singer will have added a verse with personal meaning, but little if any connection to the thrust of the main body of the lyric.