Dark-Eyed Sailor, a reily ballad

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The song also known as “Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor” originally from England, and is dated to a good approximation at the end of the nineteenth century. It is classified as a reily ballad or broken token ballad (because of the love pledge exchanged between the two lovers) on the model of a “return song” that was already the most popular in Classical times: in most of these ballads the man returns home after many years of absence at sea (war), and, not recognized by the woman, he puts her loyalty to the test. The girl, as a serious girl, refuses his courting because she has already been promised. The man so reassured, reveals himself to the woman and the two crown their love with marriage.

sailor-returnThe ballad recalls the archetypal figures of Ulysses and Penelope, when Ulysses, returned twenty years after the war (and his vicissitudes in the seas) to his Ithaca in disguise, is not recognized by his wife.

Collected in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and North America according to A.L. Lloyd all versions have a common matrix in the ballad published on a broadside printed by James Catnach (London 1813-1838) Flanders in “The New Green Mountain Songster” observes”The air to which it is almost universally sung, both in the old-country and American tradition, belongs to another ballad, “The Female Smuggler“.

Steeleye Span from “Hark! The Village Wait” (1970)

Christy Moore from Prosperus 1972

Quilty ( I, II, IV, VI, VII)

Olivia Chaney live The Mark Radcliffe Folk Sessions

I
As I went a walking (roved out ) one evening fair,
it being the summer(time) to take the air/I spied a female (maiden) with a sailor boy/and I stood to listen, I stood to listen/to hear what they might say.
II
He said “Young maiden (fair lady)
now why do you roam
all along by yonder Lee?”
She heaved a sigh and the tears they did roll, / “For my dark eyed sailor,
he ploughs the stormy seas.”
III
“‘Tis seven long years(1) since he left this land,
A ring he took from off his lily-white hand.(2)
One half of the ring is still here with me,
But the other’s rollin’
at the bottom of the sea.”
IV
He said “You can drive him from your mind/for another young man you surely will find.
Love turns a sight and it soon grows cold/ Like a winter’s morning
the hills are white with snow.”
V
She said “I’ll never forsake my dear
Although we’re parted this many a year/ Genteel(3) he was and a rake(4) like you/ To induce a maiden
to slight the jacket blue(5).”
VI
One half of the ring did young William show
She ran distracted in grief and woe
Sayin’ “William, William, I have gold in store(6)/ For my dark-eyed sailor
has proved his honour long”
VII
There is a cottage by yonder Lee,
the couple live there and do agree.
So maids be true when your lover’s at sea,
For a stormy morning
brings on a sunny day.
NOTES
1) Seven is a recurring number in ballads to indicate the duration of a separation. The reference to the number seven is not accidental: it is a magic or symbolic number linked to death or change. If a husband left for the war and did not return within seven years, the wife could remarry.
2) in this kind of ballads often appears an object through which the two lovers are recognized, either a gift exchanged or a ring broken in half as in this case
3) for gentle
4) A “rake” was a charming young lover of women, of songs, dedicated to gambling and alcohol, but also a lifestyle of fashion among the English nobles during the 17th century. And yet it is also a term used in a positive sense
5) wearing the blue jacket of the British sailor’s uniform
6) in other versions”I’ve lands and gold For my dark-eyed sailor so manly, true and bold

LINK
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/fair-young-maid-garden/
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/maine-lumberjacks/songs-ballads%20-%200208.htm
http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getfolk.php?id=926 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=80849 http://www.itma.ie/inishowen/song/dark_eyed_sailor_kate_doherty http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/thedarkeyedsailor.html http://www.christymoore.com/lyrics/dark-eyed-sailor/
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/13/sailor.htm http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=149660 https://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/LN35.html

Reaphook and Sickle

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The time of the wheat harvest varies according to the latitudes: in the South as for example in southern Italy it starts to harvest already in June, while in Piedmont in July and in the Northern countries as for the Islands of Great Britain, in August.
Once the harvest season could last about a month with the laborers that moved on foot, from farm to farm with tools for their work on their shoulders and a little bundle with their few things: they went in groups for little family, men and women, and for many girls that was the occasion to make new friends and maybe find the lover.

George Hemming Mason - The Harvest Moon

Harvest songs are common throughout Europe and are mostly religious-ritualistic, but the songs have disappeared because with the mechanization (and the chemistry) of agriculture the peasant world has thinned out: today in the countryside it is no longer sung!

JOLLY COUNTRY

The song of the harvest I have chosen today, titled “Reaphook and Sickle“, comes from the English tradition: it is a “jolly” song that paints in exciting tones and describes what was actually a hard work as if it were a dance tour. Other times and resources, other mentality, but in my opinion it is important to restore dignity to the work of the earth, as a true vocation, in which one lives in close contact with nature and its times.

coltivazione sinergicaNo longer isolated and bounded in its own field as in the past, taking advantage of traditional methods or natural “philosophies” such as what is now called synergistic agriculture, that anyone with a little land available can experiment to make a synergetic vegetable garden ( it seems a paradox of terms to talk about natural agriculture but it works great) .. and find a bit of “jollyness” ..

Eliza Carthy from Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man 2007


I
Come you lads and lasses,
together we will go
All in the golden cornfield
our courage for to show.
With the reaping hook and sickle
so well we clear the land,
And the farmer says,
“Hoorah, me boys,
here’s liquor at your command.”
II
It’s in the time of haying
our partners we do take,
Along with lads and lasses
the hay timing to make.
There’s joining round in harmony
and roundness to be seen,
And when it’s gone
we’ll take your girls
to dance Jack on the green(1).
III
It’s in the time of harvest
so cheerfully we’ll go,
Then some we’ll reap
and some we’ll sickle
and some we’ll size to mow.
But now at end
we’re free for home,
we haven’t far to go,
We’re on our way to Robin Hood’s Bay (2) to welcome harvest home.
IV
Now harvest’s done and ended
and the corn all safe from harm,
And all that’s left to do, me boys,
is thresh it in the barn.
Here’s a health to all the farmers, likewise the women and men,
And we wish you health and happiness till harvest comes again.
NOTES
1)
Jack in the Green was a popular mask of the English May, from the Middle Ages and until the Victorian era, which fell into disuse at the end of the nineteenth century.
2) Robin Hood’s Bay is a county in North Yorkshire, England.

 

Albion Country Band from Battle of the Field 1976

I
Now come all you lads and lasses
and together let us go
Into some pleasant cornfield
our courage for to show.
CHORUS
With the good old leathern bottle

and the beer it shall be brown.
We’ll reap and scrape together
until Bright Phoebus does go down.
II
With the reaphook and the sickle,
oh so well we clear the land,
And the farmer cries,
“Well done, my lads,
here’s liquor at your command.”
III
Now by daybreak in the morning
when the larks begin to sing
And the echo of the harmony
make all the crows to ring
IV
Then in comes lovely Nancy
the corn all for to lay,
She is a charming creature
and I must begin her praise:
For she gathers it, she binds it,
and she rolls it in her arms,
She carries it to the waggoners
to fill the farmer’s barns.
V
Well now harvest’s done and ended
and the corn secure from harm,
Before it goes to market, lads,
we must thresh it in the barn.
VI
Now here’s a health to all you farmers
and likewise to all you men,
I wish you health and happiness
till harvest comes again.

LINK
https://mainlynorfolk.info/guvnor/songs/reaphookandsickle.html