THE MERRY PLOUGHBOY

“L’allegro contadinello” è una canzone irlandese accreditata a Dominic Behan che molto probabilmente ha invece aggiustato e arrangiato un vecchio brano tradizionale inglese intitolandolo “Off to Dublin in the Green“.
La canzone in origine era una reclame pro-arruolamento, ironicamente trasformata da Behan in una canzone anti-britannica e repubblicana, ambientata nei primi decenni del XX secolo.

VERSIONE INGLESE: The Kaki and the Blue  (The Scarlet and the Blue)

La versione ci viene dalla famiglia Watersons chiamata anche The Kaki and the Blue (registrata in A Yorkshire Garland, 1966)
Il commento di AL Lloyd nelle note così recita: “So poor was the existence of oldtime farm labourers, even army life and army pay seemed a golden prospect. The race of treacle-tongued and bloody-minded recruiting sergeants from Farquhar’s Sergeant Kite onward exploited the situation by deception and sharp practise, depicting a life of ease, wenching, plunder and quick promotion, to the gullible yokels. The young ploughboy of this song has swallowed the bait readily enough. Yet songs of this sort are rare compared with the large repertory of songs about the farm boys who desert when they realise the realities of military life. This is another song that the Watersons got from Mick Taylor of Hawes in 1965.

Nel sito de The Yorkshire Garland Group leggiamo “According to A.L.Lloyd The Scarlet and the Blue was written in the 1870s by John Blockley and popularized on both sides of the Atlantic by Ed Harrigan and Tony Hart. This information has been frequently reprinted whenever oral versions have been published but no-one I know has actually seen any verified references to Blockley’s authorship or a copy of the original sheet music. Blockley was a prolific composer of music for parlour pieces up to his death in 1882 but he seldom was credited with any lyrics. Although the song could well have been written in the 1870s and applied to the many colonial wars of that era, all of the versions I have come across can only be traced back to having been sung in World War I. Although some writers quite rightly claim the practice of wearing scarlet and blue was replaced by khaki in the 1880s, song writers continued to use the title for army songs up to at least 1900 when J. Horspool wrote the words and music to a song of this title. Another of the same title was written in 1884 by W. Sapte, music by Joseph Duggan. John Farmer also produced a book in 1898 entitled Scarlet and Blue, Songs for Soldiers and sailors.
Whatever its prior history it must have been very popular amongst the troops in World War I to judge by the fact that it was still being widely sung in rural England in the second half of the twentieth century, and in fact is still sung by many retired farm workers today. It was particularly adopted by Royal Artillery regiments. During World War I the horse was still the main source of power for transporting heavy equipment and ordnance, so young ploughmen and other heavy horse workers were seen as ideal recruiting fodder for artillery regiments like the Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery. This song must have been a godsend as a recruiting song for these artillery regiments.
One such was Sykes’s Wagonners Reserves which recruited on the Yorkshire Wolds, particularly the area around the Sykes’s Sledmere Estate. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Mark Sykes MP established the regiment in anticipation of World War I, consequently those Wagonners who were lucky enough to return after the war had the song in their repertoires and eventually passed it on to younger farm workers, so that throughout the twentieth century there was scarcely a farm lad in the East Riding who could not sing it.
The song was adapted for use by the IRA post 1916 and Dominic Behan could remember singing it as a member of the Young Republican Boy Scouts. He rewrote the words in the 1960s and his version became very popular on the folk scene on both sides of the Irish Sea.”

ASCOLTA Ted Hutchinson di Canal Head, Driffield che ha imparato il brano dai contadini più anziani della zona

I
I once was a jolly ploughboy ploughing in the fields all day,
When a very funny thought came across my mind, I thought I’d run away,
For I’m sick and tired of the country life and the place where I was born,
So I’ve been and joined the army and I’m off tomorrow morn.
Chorus:
So hurrah for the scarlet(1) and the blue, see the helmets glisten in the sun,
And the bay’nets flash like lightning to the beat of a military drum.
There’s a flag in dear old England proudly waving in the sky
And the last words of my comrades were, ‘We’ll conquer or we’ll die.’
II
I put aside my old grey mare, I put aside my plough,
I put aside my two-tined fork, no more to reap or mow,
No more will I go harvesting to reap the golden corn,
For I’ve been and joined the army and I’m off tomorrow morn.
III
But there’s one little girl I must leave behind and that is my Nellie dear;
She said she would be true to me if I be far or near;
And when I come back from the foreign shore how happy I will be,
For I’ll march my Nellie off to church and a sergeant’s wife she’ll be.
TESTO FAMIGLIA WATERSON
I
Well I once was a merry ploughboy
I was a-ploughing in the fields all day
Till a very funny thought came to me head
That I should roam away
O I’m tired of my country life
Since the day that I was born
So I’ve gone and joined the army
And I’m off tomorrow morn
Chorus (after each verse):
Hoorah for the khaki(1) and the blue
Helmets glittering in the sun
Bayonets flash like lightning
To the beating of a military drum
And no more will I go harvesting
Or gathering the golden corn
‘Cos I got the good king’s shilling
And I’m off tomorrow morn
II
Well I’ll leave aside my pick and spade
And I’ll leave aside my plough
And I’ll leave aside my old grey mare
For no more I’ll need her now
For there’s a little spot in England
Up in the Yorkshire dales so high
Where we mast the good king’s standard
Saying we’ll conquer or we’ll die
III
But there’s one little thing I must tell you
About the girl I leave behind
And I know she will prove true to me
And I’ll prove true in kind
And if ever I return again
To my home in the country
I’ll take her to the church to wed
And a sergeant’s wife she’ll be

NOTE
1) la tinta scarlatta delle divise militari inglesi è stata sostituita dal
color kaki nel 1880.

VERSIONE IRLANDESE: THE MERRY PLOUGHBOY

La ballata è diventata un simbolo del nazionalismo irlandese contemporaneo. Il protagonista è un giovane contadino, insoddisfatto della propria condizione sociale (anche se merry) che decide di posare i suoi strumenti di lavoro per imbracciare il fucile e combattere per la libertà della sua nazione; al suo ritorno spera di potersi sposare con la fidanzata Mary.

Alcuni fanno derivare la versione irlandese dal brano intitolato “The Warwickshire R.H.A.” la sigla per la Royal Horse Artillery risalente al 1793 che era inglobata nella Royal Artillery dell’Esercito britannico. (ancora oggi ci sono quattro reggimenti che si fregiano del simbolo RHA.): le strofe sono identiche alla versione inglese riportata ma il coro diventa
The Warwickshire R.H.A.
And hurrah for the Horse Artillery,
See the spurs how they glitter in the sun,
And the horses gallop like lightening,
With an fifteen pounder gun,
And when we get to France my boys,
The Kaiser he will say,
Ach Ach Mien Gott what a jolly fine lot,
Are the Warwickshire R.H.A.

9_Benson_IRA_1Harry Benson I.R.A. Soldier, Ireland, 1985

GUIDA ALL’ASCOLTO

Una melodia “tipicamente irish” allegra e scanzonata che si presta anche alle versioni punk o metal, ma per l’ascolto consiglio i “classici”!

ASCOLTA Wolfe Tones
ASCOLTA Dubliners
ASCOLTA Clancy Brothers& Tommy Makem “Green in the Green”

I
Oh, I am a merry ploughboy
And I plough the fields all day
Till a sudden thought came to my mind
That I should roam away.
For I’m sick and tired of slavery
Since the day that I was born
And I’m off to join the I.R.A.
And I’m off tomorrow morn.
Chorus:(1)
And I’m off to Dublin in the green(2), in the green
Where the helmets glisten in the sun
Where the bay’nets(3) flash and the riffles crash
To the echo(4) of the Thompson gun.
II
I’ll leave aside my pick and spade
And I’ll leave aside my plough
I’ll leave aside my old grey mare
For no more I’ll need them now.
I’ll leave aside my Mary,
She’s the girl I do adore
And I wonder if she think of me
When she hears the cannons roar.
III
And when the war is over
And dear old Ireland is free
I’ll take her to the church to wed
And a rebel’s wife she’ll be.
Well some men fight for silver
and some men fight for gold
But the I.R.A. are fighting
for the land that the Saxons stole(5)
TRADUZIONE ITALIANO
I
Sono un allegro contadinello
e aro i campi tutto il giorno
finchè un pensiero improvviso mi sovvenne,
che dovrei andarmene in giro.
Sono nauseato e stanco di essere schiavo
fin dal giorno in cui sono nato
e andrò ad unirmi all’I.R.A.
ci andrò domani mattinaRitornello:
e sono fuori da Dublino, in campo aperto(2), in campo aperto, dove gli elmetti brillano al sole
dove le baionette scintillano e i fucili rimbombano
per l’eco(4) della pistola Thompson
II
Lascerò da parte picca e vanga
e lascerò da parte il mio aratro
lascerò da parte la mia vecchia giumenta grigia,
che non ne avrò più bisogno.
Lascerò da parte la mia Mary
la ragazza che amo
e mi domando se lei pensa a me
quando sente i cannoni ruggire
III
E quando la guerra è finita
e la vecchia cara Irlanda è libera
la porterò in chiesa per sposarla
e la moglie di un ribelle lei sarà.
Alcuni combattono per l’argento
e altri per l’oro
ma l’I.R.A. combatte
per la terra che i Sassoni rubarono(5)

NOTE
1) il ritornello cantato da Dominic in “Off to Dublin in the Green”
“So I’m off to Dublin in the green in the green
Where the the helmets glitter in the sun
Where the rifles crash and the thunders crash
To the echo of the Thompson guns.”

il ritornello cantato dai Dubliners
“We’re off the Dublin in the green, in the green,
Our bayonets glitterin’ in the sun
And his hands they flew like lightin’ to
The rattle of a Thompson gun.”

il ritornello cantato dai Clancy
“We’re off the Dublin in the green, in the green,
Our bayonets glitterin’ in the sun
And his hands they flew like lightin’ to
The rattle of a Thompson gun.”

2) in the green tradotto in italiano come “essere all’aperto, nei prati” è letteralmente “essere nel verde” cioè identificarsi nel colore dei ribelli che per tradizione fin dal 1600 hanno scelto di indossare il colore verde come forma di “irlandesità” vedi

3) bay’nets “baionette”. Presente esclusivamente nel ritornello, questo termine, rappresenta un’espressione dialettale, molto diffusa nel linguaggio colloquiale ed è la contrazione della forma standard bayonet. ” A bayonet is a weapon with a worker at both ends”

4) nei Dubliners diventa “rattle” con un effetto molto più crudo

5) in origine “the land De Valera sold” Éamon de Valera fu un politico e patriota irlandese, tra le figure di spicco della lotta per l’indipendenza dal Regno Unito e uno dei padri della repubblica d’Irlanda. dopo la vittoria elettorale del suo partito Fianna Fai nel 1932 divenne primo ministro avviando una politica di progressivo sganciamento dell’Irlanda del Sud dalla Gran Bretagna. Ancora primo ministro dal 1951 al 1954 e dal 1957 al 1959, fu eletto in quell’anno presidente della repubblica mantenendo tale carica fino al 1973.

FONTI
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=54596
http:[email protected]?SongID=6825
http://mainlynorfolk.info/watersons/songs/thekhakiandtheblue.html
http://www.mysongbook.de/msb/songs/o/offtodub.html
http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/song_database/
Military/The_Jolly_Ploughboy.55.aspx

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