FATHOM THE BOWL

drunken_sailors_5912Una drinking song proveniente dal sud dell’Inghilterra dalle oscure origini: c’è chi ritiene si tratti di una canzone dei contrabbandieri risalente al 1700, altri invece la considerano una canzone gogliardica dei circoli conviviali maschili (una istituzione della gentry molto “british”) diventata successivamente una “sea song” da cantarsi nei pub in allegra brigata, oggi per lo più rivisitata in chiave “pirate song“.
This rousing and convivial song may be found in the collection of English songs made by William Alexander Barrett and published in 1891. Barrett noted his budget of songs at harvest homes, sheep shearings, ploughing matches and from itinerant ballad-singers (like the ones interviewed by Mayhew and his team of early sociologists in mid-Victorian times) who still lifted up their cracked voices in the city streets. Alfred Williams collected in the countryside around the Upper Thames in the early part of this century and found Fathom the Bowl sung all the way from Malmesbury to Oxford. His singers usually followed it with a spoken toast, a pithy and familiar bit of folk wisdom: Here’s to the large bee that flies so high! The small bee gathers the honey, The poor man he does all the work, The rich man pockets the money.” (tratto da qui)

Il testo riportato in varie raccolte ottocentesche è rimasto pressochè invariato (sempre tenendo conto del fatto che la trasmissione orale di una canzone inevitabilmente porta ad aggiunte, variazioni, abbellimenti soggettivi dettati dalla contingenza storica e dall’umore del momento), cambia tuttavia la melodia (che richiama Rosin the Bow)
ASCOLTA Bootstrapper Pirate Band, live

ASCOLTA John C. Reilly in Rogue’s Gallery 2006

ASCOLTA Assassin’s Creed versione maschile 2013 (la versione femminile è cantata da Linda Morrison)

I
Come all ye bold fellows to this place have come(1)
And we’ll sing in the praise of good brandy and rum
Lets lift up our glasses good cheer is our goal(2)
Bring in the punch(3) ladle(4),
we’ll fathom the bowl (5)
CHORUS
We’ll fathom the bowl
We’ll fathom the bowl
Bring in the punch ladle
We’ll fathom the bowl
II
From France we do get brandy from Jamaica comes rum
Sweet oranges and lemons(apple) from Portugal come
But stout beer and cider are England(Ireland)’s control
Bring in the punch ladle, we’ll fathom the bowl
III
My wife she do disturb me as I lie at my ease
She does as she likes and she says as she please
My wife she’s the devil she’s black as the coal(6)
Bring in the punch ladle, we’ll fathom the bowl
IV
Oh my father he do lie in the depths of the sea
No stone at his head but what matters to he?
Here’s a gallon of strong cider his death to console(7)
Bring in the punch ladle, we’ll fathom the bowl
TRADUZIONE ITALIANO DI CATTIA SALTO
I
Venite tutti voi, bravi compagni che siete arrivati in questo posto, cantiamo lode al buon brandy e al rum
alziamo i nostri bicchieri per brindare alla salute,
porta il mestolo del punch(3) che svuoteremo la boccia(5).
CORO
svuoteremo la boccia,
svuoteremo la boccia,
porta il mestolo del punch che svuoteremo la boccia.
II
Dalla Francia arriva il brandy, dalla Giamaica il rum,
dolci arance e limone dal Portogallo,
ma la birra scura e il sidro sono sotto il controllo inglese (irlandese)!
III
Mia moglie mi infastidisce mentre me ne sto bello comodo,
fa quello che le pare e dice quello che vuole,
mia moglie è il diavolo, è nera come il carbone!(6)
IV
Mio fratello giace in fondo al mare senza una lapide, ma a lui cosa importa?
Ecco qui un gallone di sidro forte, per consolare la sua morte.

NOTE
1) oppure “Come all ye bold heroes give an ear to me song
2) oppure “There’s a clear crystal fountain near England (Ireland) shall roll“. Il riferimento alla mitica fontana della giovinezza è automatico, anche se la “vera” fontana veniva ricercata in località molto più esotiche, ossia i paradisi delle Indie Occidentali..
3) “The word punch is a loanword from Hindi panch (meaning five) and the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The original drink was named paantsch.
The drink was brought to England from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century. From there it was introduced into other European countries. The term punch was first recorded in British documents in 1632. At the time, most punches were of the Wassail type made with a wine or brandy base. But around 1655, Jamaican rum came into use and the ‘modern’ punch was born. By 1671, documents make references to punch houses. From this, and the evidence above, we can conclude that the song could not have been written before 1655 and must have been written by 1844 when Pitts certainly had it in his catalogue.”(tratto da qui)
4) “ladle”  è un long handled spoon (mestolo dal manico lungo) che si usa per mescere il punch dalla boccia al bicchiere
5) To fathom =go to bottom. To fathom the bowl=going to the bottom (and empying) the punch bowl
6) non poteva mancare la strofa misogina sulle donne, in altre versioni con allusioni ancora più “pesanti” e scurrili.

FONTI
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/bowl.html https://mainlynorfolk.info/watersons/songs/fathomthebowl.html http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=15756 http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/218.html

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