Sailor’s holy ground in sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

No, I’m not talking about Jerusalem and the sea song “Holy ground” is less closer to the psalms than the title suggests! It is a sea shanty of uncertain origins spread in many variations a bit for all Britain and Ireland as well as America on the whalers’ routes that once sailed the seas starting from Ireland and Great Britain; for a sailor, in fact, “the promised land” is nothing more than an area of the harbour or a street full of inns, pubs and taverns where to have fun with drinks, women and songs!
The subject with different titles and the same tune, is repeated with very similar verses from Scotland to Ireland, and yet there is a double point of view: on the one hand it’s the typical and cheerful sea shanty, sometimes rough and with a lot of drink, and on the other it becomes a more intimate and fragile vein, which reflects on the solitude and danger of the sea.

Cove Harbour: The scenery and antiquities of Ireland (Volume I) by N.P. Willis, J.S. Coyne and W.H. Bartlett. London: George Virtue, ca. 1841.

IRISH VERSION: HOLY GROUND

Also titled “Fine Girl You Are” or “The Cobh Sea Shanty” the song is named after a district of Cobh, a port town once known as Queenstown, a well-known harbour of Irish emigration in Cork County: a sailor is bound to cross the ocean, leaving his sweetheart at Cobh, but he hopes of returning soon to them (the girl and the city). The arrangement of this version “by Clancy Brothers” in the 60s is clearly light-hearted and many of the most recent groups in the Irish scene are paying their homage even wearing the irish traditional sweaters!

Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

The High Kings

The Kilkennys

THE HOLY GROUND
I
Fare thee well my lovely Dinah,
a thousand times adieu
For we’re going away
from the Holy Ground(1)
and the girls we all loved true
And we’ll sail the salt sea over,
but we’ll return for sure
To greet(2) again the girls we loved,
on the Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
Chorus:
You’re the girl I do adore
and still I live in hopes to see
The Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
II
And now the storm is raging
and we are far from shore
And the good old ship is tossing about and the rigging is all tore
And the secret of my mind,
I think you’re the girl I do adore
For soon we live in hopes(3)
to see the Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
III
And now the storm is over
and we are safe and well
We’ll go into a public house
and we’ll sit and drink like hell
We’ll drink strong ale and porter(4) and we’ll make the rafters roar(5)
And when our money is all spent,
we’ll go to sea once more
(fine girl you are)

NOTES
1) perhaps a red light district of the city or the port area full of clubs to entertain the sailors, in the dictionaries is reported as the slang of the eighteenth century, in the context of the song is however more ideally his own city
2) The High King: to see
3) The High King : And still I live in hopes
4) porter is the eighteenth-century term used by the Irish to identify dark beer; today we say stout
5) make a lot of noise

And yet the original version of the melody was more meditative and melancholic, see the Welsh version “Old Swansea Town Once More”
Mary Black from The Holy Ground 1993 for example, she reports it from a female point of view

THE HOLY GROUND
I
Farewell my lovely Johnny,
a thousand times adieu
You are going away
from the holy ground
And the ones that love you true
You will sail the salt seas over
And then return for sure
To see again the ones you love
And the holy ground once more
II
You’re on the salt sea sailing
And I am safe behind
Fond letters I will write to you
The secrets of my mind
And the secrets of my mind, my love
You’re the one that I adore
Still I live in hopes you’ll see
The holy ground once more
III
I see the storm a risin’
And it’s coming quick and soon
And the night’s so dark and cloudy
You can scarcely see the moon
And the secrets of my mind, my love
You’re the one that I adore
And still I live in hopes you’ll see
The holy ground once more
IV
But now the storms are over
And you are safe and well
We will go into a public house
And we’ll sit and drink our fill
We will drink strong ale and porter
And we’ll make the rafters roar
And when our money it is all spent
You’ll go to sea once more
You’re the one that I adore
And still I live in hopes that you’ll see
The holy ground once more
Swansea Harbour

WELSH VERSION: OLD SWANSEA TOWN ONCE MORE

“Old Swansea Town Once More” or more briefly “Swansea Town” is the widespread version in Wales of the sea shanty “Fine Girl You Are”, and was collected in Hampshire in 1905 by George Gardiner (sung by William Randall of Hursley) ; even if there are many variations of the text, here is the version similar to the Irish one: the protagonist probably embarks on a whaler and thinks with nostalgia to the girl left behind. A very hard life that of the whale fishermen who were a lots of months in the open sea at the mercy of the weather.
Storm Weather Shanty Choir from Cheer Up Me Lads! 2002, that return it more slowly and heartily, veined by nostalgia.

SWANSEA TOWN
I(1)
Oh farewell to you sweet Nancy,
ten thousand times adieu;
I’m bound to cross the ocean, girl,
once more to part from you.
Once more to part from you,
fine girl
(Chorus)
You’re the girl that I do adore.
But still I live in hopes to see
old Swansea(2) town once more.

II
Oh it’s now that I am out at sea,
and you are far behind;
Kind letters I will write to you
of the secrets of my mind.
III
Oh now the storm is rising,
I can see it coming on;
The night as dark as anything,
we cannot see the moon.
IV
Oh, it’s now the storm is over
and we are safe on shore,
We’ll drink strong drinks and brandies too, to the girls that we adore.
V (chorus)
To the girls that we adore, fine girls,
we’ll make this tavern roae,
And when our money is all gone,
we’ll go to sea for more.

NOTES
1) or
Oh the Lord, made the bees,
An’ the bees did make the honey,
But the Devil sent the woman for to rob us of our money.
An around Cape Horn we’ll go!
An when me money’s all spent ol’ gal,
We’ll round Cape Horn for more ol’ gal, ol’ gal!
(gal= girl)
2) Swansea is a coastal town in South Wales 

HOLY GROUND ONCE MORE
ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY

LINK
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/forum/1137.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=116846
http://brethrencoast.com/shanty/Old_Swansea_Town.html

http://www.swanseadocks.co.uk/Old%20Dock%20Images%202.htm

Sailor’s farewell: on the sailor’s side!

Leggi in italiano

A further variant of “Sailor’s Farewell” is titled “Adieu, My Lovely Nancy” (aka “Swansea Town,” and “The Holy Ground”) found in England, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the United States. It’s developed on twice directions, on the one hand it’s the typical and cheerful sea shanty, sometimes rough and with a lot of drink, and on the other it becomes a more intimate and fragile vein, which reflects on the solitude and danger of the sea. In these versions the sailor is enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Copper Family: Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy is one of the best-known songs from the repertoire of the Copper Family. It was published in the first issue of the Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, in 1899, a version also released in Australia and entitled “Lovely Nancy”, in which it is only the handsome sailor who speaks during the separation on the shore.

Maddy Prior & Tim Hart 1968 from Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 1

The Ballina Whalers

Ed, Will & Ginger from a free session in front of the pub for “Ed and Will in A walk around Britain”

ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
I
Adieu sweet lovely Nancy,
ten thousand times adieu
I’m going around the ocean love
to seek for something new
Come change your ring(1)
with me dear girl
come change your ring with me
for it might be a token of true love while I am on the sea.
II
And when I’m far upon the sea
you’ll know not where I am
Kind letters I will write to you
from every foreign land
the secrets of your heart dear girl
are the best of my good will
So let your body(2) be where, it might my heart will be with you still.
III
There’s a heavy storm arising
see how it gathers round
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are fighting for the crown (3)
There’s nothing to protect us love
or keep us from the cold
On the ocean wide where
we must bide like jolly seamen bold.
IV
There’s tinkers tailors shoemakers
lie snoring fast asleep
While we poor souls
on the ocean wide are ploughing through the deep
Our officers commanded us
and then we must obey
Expecting every moment
for to get cast away.
V
But when the wars are over
there’ll be peace on every shore
We’ll return to our wives and our families and the girls that we adore
We’ll call for liquor merrily
and spend our money free
And when our money is all gone
we’ll boldly go to sea.

NOTES
1) Ring is a proof of identity of the soldier that will sometimes remain absent for long years
2) In the part of dialogue ometted Nancy wants to dress up as a sailor to go with him.
3) the reference is always to broadside ballad version in which our johnny (slang term for sailor) has enlisted in the Royal Navy and wants Nancy to stay home waiting for him.

AMERICAN/ IRISH VERSION: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY

Julie Henigan from American Stranger 1997 “I learned this version from the Max Hunter Collection. Hunter was a traveling salesman and amateur folksong collector from Springfield, Missouri, who amassed an impressive number of field recordings from the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. When I was a teenager I learned many songs from the cassette tapes of his collection that were housed in the Springfield Public Library.
Hunter recorded this song in 1959 from Bertha Lauderdale, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. She had learned the song from her grandfather, who, in turn, had learned it from his grandmother, when “he was a young child in Ireland.” Since I recorded the song on American Stranger (Waterbug 038), Altan, Jeff Davis, Nancy Conescu, Gerald Trimble, and Pete Coe have all added it to their repertoires.”

Altan from Local Ground, 2005

ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
I
Adieu, my lovely Nancy,
Ten thousand times adieu,
I’ll be thinking of my own true love,
I’ll be thinking, dear, of you.
II
Will you change a ring(1)
with me, my love,
Will you change a ring with me?
It will be a token of our love,
When I am far at sea.
III
When I am far away from home
And you know not where I am,
Love letters I will write to you
From every foreign strand.
IV
When the farmer boys
come home at night,
They will tell their girls fine tales
Of all that they’ve been doing
All day out in the fields;
V
Of the wheat and hay
that they’ve cut down,
Sure, it’s all that they can do,
While we poor jolly,
jolly hearts of oak(2)
Must plough the seas all through.
VI
And when we return again, my love,
To our own dear native shore,
Fine stories we will tell to you,
How we ploughed the oceans o’er.
VII
And we’ll make the alehouses to ring,
And the taverns they will roar,
And when our money it is all gone,
Sure, we’ll go to sea for more.

NOTES
1) Ring is a proof of identity of the soldier that will sometimes remain absent for long years
2) hearts of oak rerefers to the wood from which British warships were generally made during the age of sail. The “Heart of oak” is the strongest central wood of the tree.

000brgcf
Sailor’s farewell

Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
versione americana/irlandese: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
Sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

FONTI
http://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/adieusweetlovelynancy.html
https://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/adieu-sweet-lovely-nancy-chords-lyrics

Fare ye well, lovely Nancy

Leggi in italiano

000brgcfLover’s separation is a theme widespread in the english balladry and that of a sailor and a young maid it’s probably originated in the eighteenth century, as we find it in the illustrations of the time: some ballads dwell on the figure of Nancy in tears who die of heartbreak because she believes that the sailor has abandoned her.

THE SAILOR’S FAREWELL

A further version of the sailor’s farewell ballad comes from”Oxford Book of Sea Song” 1986 “that version was originally noted by Dr George Gardiner (text) and (probably) Charles Gamblin (tune) from George Lovett (born 1841) at Winchester, Hampshire. In January 1909, Ralph Vaughan Williams re-noted the melody because there was some doubt about the notation; it appears that he visited Mr Lovett and recorded his singing for later checking”.

A sailor bidding farewell from his weeping sweetheart 1790s

TEARS ON THE SHORE

Polly / Nancy is on the beach  to complain for having been abandoned by her sailor (who evidently left for the sea without marrying her).

There are many variations of the text, in this one we go back to the eighteenth century music
Baltimore Consort

FARE YE WELL, LOVELY NANCY
I
Fare ye well, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you.
I am bound for th’ East Indies
my course for to steer.
I know very well my long absence
will grieve you,
But, true love, I’ll be back
in the spring of the year(1).”
II
“Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me,
my dearest Johnny,
Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me
here all alone;
For it is your good company
that I do desire
I will sigh till l die
if l ne’er see you more.
III
In sailor’s apparel I’ll dress
and go with you,
ln the midst of all danger
your friend I will be;
And that is, my dear,
when the stormy wind’s blowing,
True love, I`ll be ready to reef your topsails.”
IV
“Your neat little fingers
strong cables can’t handle,
Your neat little feet
to the topmast can’t go;
Your delicate body
strong winds can’t endure.
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
to the seas do not go.”
V
Now Johnny is sailing
and Nancy bewailing;
The tears down her eyes
like torrents do flow.
Her gay golden hair
she’s continually tearing,
Saying, “I’ll sigh till I die
if l ne’er see you more”.
VI
Now all you young maidens
by me take a warning,
Never trust a sailor
or believe what they say.
First they will court you,
and then they will slight you;
They will leave you behind,
love, in grief and in pain.

NOTES
1) as sea ballad  Lovely on the Water the sailor’s farewell is framed in an opening stanza that describes the coming of spring

SAILOR’S LETTER

Johnny is about to send a letter to his sweetheart to swear his true love and renew the promise of marriage (but everyone knows what happened to sailor vow)

Solas from Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, 1997

ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
I
“Adieu, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you
To the far-off West Indies
I’m bound for to steer
But let my long journey
be of no trouble to you
For my love, I’ll return
in the course of a year”
II
“Talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Jimmy
Talk not of leaving me
here on the shore
You know very well
your long absence will grieve me
As you sail the wild ocean
where the wild billows roar
III
I’ll cut off my ringlets
all curly and yellow
I’ll dress in the coats
of a young cabin boy
And when we are out
on that dark, rolling ocean
I will always be near you,
my pride and my joy”
IV
“Your lily-white hands,
they could not handle the cables
Your lily-white feet
to the top mast could not go
And the cold winter storms, well,
you could not endure them
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
where the wild winds won’t blow”
V
As Jimmy set a-sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears from her eyes
in great torrents did a-flow
As she stood on the beach,
oh her hands she was wringing
Crying, “Oh and alas,
will I e’er see you more?”
VI
As Jimmy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
they filled him with pride
He said, “Nancy, lovely Nancy,
if I had you here, love
How happy I’d be for
to make you my bride”
VII
So Jimmy wrote a letter
to his own lovely Nancy
Saying, “If you have proved constant, well, I will prove true”
Oh but Nancy was dying,
for her poor heart was broken
Oh the day that he left her,
forever he’d rue
VIII
Come all of you young maidens,
I pray, take a warning
And don’t trust a sailor boy
or any of his kind
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their love, it is tempestuous
as the wavering wind

HEART BREAKING

A melodramatic ending with sailor’s letter coming too late to the bedside of a dying Nancy.
Jarlath Henderson from Hearts Broken, Heads Turned, 2016  
Samplers, piano and an expressive voice for this young musician who won the BBC Young Folk Award in 2003.

FARE YE WELL, LOVELY NANCY
I
Fare thee well, lovely Nancy,
It’s now I must leave you,
To cross the main ocean
where the stormy winds blow,
let not my long journey
be of no trouble to you,
for you know I’ll be back
in the course of a year”
II
“Let’s talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Billy
Let’s talk not of leaving me
here all alone
for you know your long journey
at early will grieve me
stay at home lovely Billy
to the sea do not roar”
V-VI
As Billy went to sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears down her eyes
like fountains did flow
As Billy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
still run throu his eyes
VII
So Billy wrote a letter
to his own true love Nancy
Saying, “If you prove constant,
then I will prove true”
Lovely Nancy on death bed
could not recover
when the news was brough to her
but his true love was death
VIII
So come on ye pretty fair maids,
and a warning take by me
care for a sailor or of his kind men
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their minds are imperfectual like the westerly wind

000brgcf

Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
english version: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
english version: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
american/irish version: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

LINK
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/farewellnancy.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27483
http://www.8notes.com/scores/4582.asp?ftype=gif

Farewell Lovely Nancy by Cecil Sharp

Leggi in italiano

“Farewell Lovely Nancy” or “Lovely Nancy” is a traditional ballad collected in 1905 by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Susan Williams, Somerset (England), where the handsome sailor leaving for the South Seas, dissuades his sweetheart who would like to follow him disguising herself as a cabin boy, telling her that working aboard ships is not for females!

AL Lloyd writes in the notes to the LP “A Sailor’s Garland”: To dress in sailor’s clothes and smuggle oneself aboard ship was a pretty notion that often occurred to young girls a century or two ago, if the folk songs are to be believed. This song has been widely found in the south of England, also in Ireland.”

CROSS-DRESSING BALLADS

In the sea songs we find sometimes the theme of the girl disguised as a sailor who faces the hard life of the sea for loving and adventure.
The cross-dressing ballads are in fact mostly inherent in women who go to play a male job, such as the sailor or the soldier.

Ed Harcourt in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys ANTI 2006, a very romantic, almost crepuscular version

Ian Campbell & Dave Swarbrick 1964

 John Molineaux  (live)


I.
“Fare you well me lovely Nancy
for it’s now I must leave you,
All along the Southern(1) sea
I am bound for to go.
Don’t let my long absence be
no trouble to you,
For I shall return in the spring
as you know.”
II.
“Like some pretty little seaboy
I’ll dress and go with you,
In the deepest of dangers
I shall stand your friend.(2)
In the cold stormy weather
when the winds are a-blowing,
My dear I’ll be willing
to wait for you then”

III.
“Well, your pretty little hands
they can’t handle our tackle,
And dour dainty little feet
to our topmast can’t go.
And the cold stormy weather love
you can’t well endure,
I would have you ashore
when the (raging) winds they do blow.
IV.(3)
So fare you well me lovely Nancy
for it’s now I must leave you,
All along the Southern sea
I am bound for to go.
As you must be safe
I’ll be loyal and constant
For I shall return in the spring
as you know.”

NOTES
1) in Sharp is “salt seas” but becomes “western ocean” in the version of A. L. Lloyd
2) in A. L. Lloyd becomes “My love, I’ll be ready to reef your topsail”.
3) the closing stanza in an Irish version written in Ancient Irish Music (1873 and 1888) by Patrick Weston Joyce says:
So farewell, my dearest Nancy, since I must now leave you;
Unto the salt seas I am bound for to go,
Where the winds do blow high and the seas loud do roar;
So may yourself contented be kind and stay on shore.

000brgcf
Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
english version: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
english version: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
american/irish version: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

FONTI
http://www.contemplator.com/england/fnancy.html
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/farewellnancy.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27483
http://www.goldenhindmusic.com/lyrics/FAREWELL.html

Lovely On The Water

Leggi in italiano  

Lover’s separation is a theme widespread in the english balladry and that of a sailor and a young maid it’s probably originated in the eighteenth century, as we find it in the illustrations of the time.

LOVELY ON THE WATER

The ballad “Lovely on the water”, collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in the early 1900s, come from a broadside titled “Henry and Nancy, or the Lover’s Separation“. The story begins in the idyll of spring with two lovers walking, but that’s their farewell, the sailor has enlisted in the Royal Navy and wants her to stay home waiting for him. Although he professed to face the war for his country, the need for a wage is certainly the primary cause of his patriotism.

The Sailor’s Farewell, Charles Mosley (mid-eighteenth century) in National Maritime Museum .

Steeleye Span recorded Lovely on the Water in 1971 for their second album, “Please to See the King” and the sleeve notes commented”Certain folk songs had great popularity, and have been reported over and again, from end to end of the country. Others—including some masterpieces—seem to have had but tiny circulation. So Lovely on the Water, with a gorgeous melody and significant words, has been found only once, by Vaughan Williams at South Walsham, a few miles from Norwich. The song starts idyllically and ends ominously, like a sunny day that clouds over. The singer, a Mr Hilton, had fourteen verses, but Vaughan Williams, often a bit careless about texts, mislaid some. Missing verses probably concerned the familiar situation in which the girl volunteers to disguise herself as a seaman, in order to sail with her lover, but is hurriedly dissuaded.” (from here)
We find those missing verses in the text of the broadside “Henry and Nancy” (here)
Steeleye Span in “Please to See the King” 1971

Ken Wilson in “Not Before Time

Dhalia`s Lane in Hollymount 2005

Martha Tilston & Maggie Boyle in The Sea 2014 in  

LOVELY ON THE WATER *
I
As I walked out one morning
in the springtime of the year
I overheard a sailor boy
likewise a lady fair
They sang a song together
made the valleys for to ring
While the birds on the spray in the meadows gay
Proclaimed the lovely spring
II
Said Willy unto Nancy
“Oh we soon must sail away
For its lovely on the water
to hear the music play.
For our Queen she do want seamen
so I will not stay on shore
I will brave the wars for my country
Where the blund’ring cannons roar
III
Poor Nancy fell and fainted,
but soon he brought her to,
For it’s there they kissed and they embraced
and took a fond adieu.
“Come change your ring (1) with me my love
For we may meet once more;
but there’s One above that will guard you, love,
Where the blund’ring cannons roar
IV
Four pounds it is our bounty
and that must do for thee
For to help the aged parents
while I am on the sea
For Tower Hill[2] is crowded
with mothers weeping sore (3)
For their sons are gone to face the foe
Where the blundering cannons roar” 

Notes
1) the ring will be the proof of identity of the lovers who will sometimes remain separated for long years
2) Tower Hill in in London,London Borough of Tower Hamlets
3) while the men go to fight the enemy, the women greet them weeping because they know that many of them will never return home

000brgcf
Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
english version: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
english version: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
american/irish version: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/lovely-water.htm
http://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/lovelyonthewater.html
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/187.html
http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/16873

http://www.britishtars.com/2014/03/the-sailors-farewell-date-unknown.html

Sailor’s farewell: dalla parte del marinaio!

Read the post in English  

Un’ulteriore variante del “Sailor’s Farewell” è intitolata “Adieu, My Lovely Nancy”ma anche “Swansea Town,” e “The Holy Ground”, ed è diffusa  in Inghilterra, Irlanda, Australia, Canada e Stati Uniti.
Si sviluppa su un duplice registro, da una parte è la tipica e allegra canzone marinaresca, a volte sguaiata e inneggiante alle colossali bevute, e dall’altra assume una vena più intimista e fragile, che riflette sulla solitudine e il pericolo del vita in mare. In queste versioni il marinaio è al servizio della Royal Navy.

LA VERSIONE INGLESE: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY

Dal repertorio tradizionale della Famiglia Copper del Sussex la ballata è stata trascritta nel primo numero del Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol.1, No.1, nel 1899. Una versione diffusa anche in Australia e intitolata “Lovely Nancy”, in cui è solo il bel marinaio a parlare durante la separazione.

Maddy Prior & Tim Hart 1968 in Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 1

The Ballina Whalers

Ed, Will & Ginger in una session davanti al pub per la serie “Ed and Will in A walk around Britain”


I
Adieu sweet lovely Nancy,
ten thousand times adieu
I’m going around the ocean love
to seek for something new
Come change your ring(1)
with me dear girl
come change your ring with me
for it might be a token of true love while I am on the sea.
II
And when I’m far upon the sea
you’ll know not where I am
Kind letters I will write to you
from every foreign land
the secrets of your heart dear girl
are the best of my good will
So let your body(2) be where, it might my heart will be with you still.
III
There’s a heavy storm arising
see how it gathers round
While we poor souls on the ocean wide are fighting for the crown (3)
There’s nothing to protect us love
or keep us from the cold
On the ocean wide where
we must bide like jolly seamen bold.
IV
There’s tinkers tailors shoemakers
lie snoring fast asleep
While we poor souls
on the ocean wide are ploughing through the deep
Our officers commanded us
and then we must obey
Expecting every moment
for to get cast away.
V
But when the wars are over
there’ll be peace on every shore
We’ll return to our wives and our families and the girls that we adore
We’ll call for liquor merrily
and spend our money free
And when our money is all gone
we’ll boldly go to sea.
traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Addio mia cara Nancy
diecimila volte addio,
vado in giro per l’oceano, amore
a cercare l’avventura.
Vieni a scambiare l’anello
con me mia cara ragazza,
scambia l’anello con me,
perchè sarà un pegno di vero amore mentre sarò per mare.
II
Quando sarò lontano sul mare
e non saprai dove sono,
dolci lettere ti scriverò
da ogni terra straniera,
i segreti del tuo cuore, cara ragazza
sono in cima ai miei pensieri,
perciò resta al sicuro dove
il mio cuore potrà stare di nuovo con te.
III
C’è una forte tempesta in arrivo,
vedi come si raduna tutt’intorno,
mentre noi povere anime sul vasto oceano combattiamo per la corona.
Non ci sarà nulla a proteggerci, amore
o a tenerci lontani dal freddo, nel vasto oceano che dobbiamo affrontare da allegri e coraggiosi marinai.
IV
Ci sono calderai, sarti e calzolai
che dormono russando,
mentre noi povere anime
sul vasto oceano solchiamo
gli abissi.
I nostri ufficiali ci comandano
e perciò dobbiamo ubbidire
aspettandoci in ogni momento
di essere spazzati via.
V
Ma quando le guerre saranno finite
ci sarà la pace in ogni terra
torneremo dalle nostre mogli e famiglie e dalle ragazze che amiamo,
ordineremo da bere allegamente
e spensieratamente  spenderemo i nostri soldi, e quando i soldi saranno finiti riprenderemo il mare con coraggio.

NOTE
1) lo scambio degli anelli o di qualche altro regalo è un elemento caratteristico delle ballate anglofile tradizionali, in cui tale oggetto costituirà la prova d’identità di colui che è partito (e resterà a volte assente per lunghi anni)
2) letteralmente ” tieni il tuo corpo dove il mio cuore potrà stare con te ancora”; manca la parte di dialogo in cui lei dice di voler travestirsi da marinaio per poter andare con lui. Ma il bel Johnny la dissuade dicendole di restare a casa dove lui la saprà al sicuro
3) il rimando è sempre alla versione della broadside ballad il cui il nostro johnny (termine gergale per marinaio) si  si è arruolato nella Royal Navy e vuole che Nancy resti a casa ad aspettarlo.

LA VERSIONE AMERICANA/ IRLANDESE: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY

Julie Henigan in American Stranger 1997leggiamo nelle note “Ho imparato questa versione dalla raccolta di Max Hunter. Hunter era un venditore ambulante e un collezionista amatoriale di canzoni folk da Springfield, Missouri, che ha raccolto un numero impressionante di registrazioni sul campo dal  Missouri all’ Arkansas Ozarks. Da ragazza ho imparato molte canzoni dalle cassette delle sue registrazioni catalogate nella Biblioteca pubblica di Springfield.
Hunter ha registrato questa canzone nel 1959 da Bertha Lauderdale, di Fayetteville, Arkansas. Aveva imparato la canzone dal nonno che a sua volta l’aveva appresa dalla nonna quando “era un bambino in Irlanda.” Da quando ho registrato la canzone in American Stranger (Waterbug 038), Altan, Jeff Davis, Nancy Conescu, Gerald Trimble, e Pete Coel’hanno aggiunta nel loro repertorio.”

Altan in Local Ground, 2005


I
Adieu, my lovely Nancy,
Ten thousand times adieu,
I’ll be thinking of my own true love,
I’ll be thinking, dear, of you.
II
Will you change a ring(1)
with me, my love,
Will you change a ring with me?
It will be a token of our love,
When I am far at sea.
III
When I am far away from home
And you know not where I am,
Love letters I will write to you
From every foreign strand.
IV
When the farmer boys
come home at night,
They will tell their girls fine tales
Of all that they’ve been doing
All day out in the fields;
V
Of the wheat and hay
that they’ve cut down,
Sure, it’s all that they can do,
While we poor jolly,
jolly hearts of oak(2)
Must plough the seas all through.
VI
And when we return again, my love,
To our own dear native shore,
Fine stories we will tell to you,
How we ploughed the oceans o’er.
VII
And we’ll make the alehouses to ring,
And the taverns they will roar,
And when our money it is all gone,
Sure, we’ll go to sea for more.
traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Addio mia cara Nancy
diecimila volte addio,
penserò al mio vero amore,
penserò mia cara, a te
II
Scambierai l’anello
con me, amore mio
scambierai l’anello con me?
Sarà un pegno del nostro amore
mentre starò lontano per mare.
III
Quando sarò lontano da casa
e non saprai dove sono,
lettere d’amore ti scriverò
da ogni terra straniera.
IV
Quando i contadini
ritornano a casa la sera
racconteranno alle loro ragazze delle belle storie di ciò che hanno fatto
tutto il giorno nei campi
V
Del grano e del fieno
che hanno tagliato
certo, è tutto quello che sanno fare,
mentre noi poveri allegri,
allegri cuori di quercia
dobbiamo navigare  per tutti i mari
VI
E quando ritorneremo di nuovo, amore mio, alla nostra cara terra natia
delle belle storie vi racconteremo
su come abbiamo navigato per gli oceani
VII
E faremo risuonare le birrerie
e rimbombare le taverne
e quando i soldi saranno tutto finiti
torneremo di nuovo per mare.

NOTE
1) lo scambio degli anelli o di qualche altro regalo è un elemento caratteristico delle ballate anglofile tradizionali, in cui tale oggetto costituirà la prova d’identità di colui che è partito (e resterà a volte assente per lunghi anni)
2) hearts of oak espressione marinaresca per le navi costruite nell’età della vela con il legno più forte nella parte più interna dell’albero

000brgcf
Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
versione americana/irlandese: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
Sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

FONTI
http://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/adieusweetlovelynancy.html
https://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/adieu-sweet-lovely-nancy-chords-lyrics

Sailor’s farewell: dalla parte della bella Nancy/Polly

000brgcfRead the post in English  

Il tema della separazione tra i due innamorati è molto diffuso nelle ballate popolari e quella tra marinaio e giovane fidanzatina risale sicuramente al 1700: alcune ballate si soffermano sulla figura di Nancy in lacrime che muore di crepacuore perchè crede che il marinaio l’abbia abbandonata.

FARE YE WELL, LOVELY NANCY

Un’ulteriore versione dell’addio del marinaio (sailor’s farewell)  viene dall'”Oxford Book of Sea Song” 1986 “questa versione fu scritta dal Dr George Gardiner (testo) e (probabilmente) Charles Gamblin (melodia)  da George Lovett (nato nel 1841) a Winchester, Hampshire. Nel gennaio 1909, Ralph Vaughan Williams annotò nuovamente la melodia perché aveva qualche dubbio sulla precedente annotazione; sembra che abbia visitato il signor Lovett e registrato il suo canto per un successivo controllo”. (Malcom Douglas tradotto da qui)

Il marinaio saluta la fidanzatina in lacrime circa 1790

LE LACRIME SUL LITORALE

Oltre al momento della separazione questa seconda versione presenta ulteriori sviluppi: in uno si descrive Polly/Nancy rimasta sulla spiaggia che si lamenta e piange per essere stata abbandonata dal suo marinaio (che evidentemente se n’è andato per mare senza sposarla).

Ci sono molti varianti del testo, vediamo quella che ci riporta al Settecento anche come arrangiamento musicale.
Baltimore Consort


I
Fare ye well, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you.
I am bound for th’ East Indies
my course for to steer.
I know very well my long absence
will grieve you,
But, true love, I’ll be back
in the spring of the year(1).”
II
“Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me,
my dearest Johnny,
Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me
here all alone;
For it is your good company
that I do desire
I will sigh till l die
if l ne’er see you more.
III
In sailor’s apparel I’ll dress
and go with you,
ln the midst of all danger
your friend I will be;
And that is, my dear,
when the stormy wind’s blowing,
True love, I`ll be ready to reef your topsails.”
IV
“Your neat little fingers
strong cables can’t handle,
Your neat little feet
to the topmast can’t go;
Your delicate body
strong winds can’t endure.
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
to the seas do not go.”
V
Now Johnny is sailing
and Nancy bewailing;
The tears down her eyes
like torrents do flow.
Her gay golden hair
she’s continually tearing,
Saying, “I’ll sigh till I die
if l ne’er see you more”.
VI
Now all you young maidens
by me take a warning,
Never trust a sailor
or believe what they say.
First they will court you,
and then they will slight you;
They will leave you behind,
love, in grief and in pain.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I LUI
“Addio bella Nancy
perchè ti devo lasciare
sono in partenza per le Indie orientali
per seguire la mia rotta.
So bene che la mia lunga assenza
ti addolorerà,
ma amore, io ritornerò
nella primavera dell’anno”
II LEI
“Oh non parlare di lasciarmi
caro il mio Johnny,
oh non parlare di lasciarmi
qui tutta sola;
perchè è la tua cara compagnia
che io desidero,
piangerò fino a morire
se non ti vedrò mai più!
III
Come un marinaio mi vestirò
e verrò con te,
in mezzo ai grandi pericoli
ti sarò compagna;
e così mio caro, quando soffierà
il  freddo vento di tempesta,
amore, sarò pronta a ridurre le vele di gabbia”
IV LUI
“Ma le tue piccole manine non possono maneggiare le nostre grosse cime
e nemmeno i tuoi piedini delicati
posso salire sull’albero maestro;
il tuo corpo delicato
non può sopportare le raffiche di vento, resta a casa, Nancy cara
non andare per mare”.
V
Ora Johnny è per mare
e Nancy si lamenta,
le lacrime dai suoi occhi cadono
come torrenti in piena,
i capelli biondi
in continuazione si strappa
dicendo “Piangerò fino a morire
se non ti vedrò mai più”
VI
Allora tutte voi giovani fanciulle
ascoltate il mio avvertimento
non fidatevi di un marinaio
e non credete a quello che dicono,
prima vi corteggiano
e poi vi faranno piangere;
vi lasceranno a casa
care, a tormentarvi

NOTE
1) il verso riprende la sea ballad  Lovely on the Water  
in cui l’addio del marinaio è inquadrato in una strofa d’apertura che descrive l’arrivo della primavera

LA LETTERA

In un’altra versione l’aggiunta di ulteriori strofe descrivono Johnny in procinto di mandare una lettera alla fidanzata per giurarle amore eterno e rinnovarle la promessa di matrimonio (ma tutti sanno che fine fanno le promesse da marinaio)..

Solas in Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, 1997


I
“Adieu, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you
To the far-off West Indies
I’m bound for to steer
But let my long journey
be of no trouble to you
For my love, I’ll return
in the course of a year”
II
“Talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Jimmy
Talk not of leaving me
here on the shore
You know very well
your long absence will grieve me
As you sail the wild ocean
where the wild billows roar
III
I’ll cut off my ringlets
all curly and yellow
I’ll dress in the coats
of a young cabin boy
And when we are out
on that dark, rolling ocean
I will always be near you,
my pride and my joy”
IV
“Your lily-white hands,
they could not handle the cables
Your lily-white feet
to the top mast could not go
And the cold winter storms, well,
you could not endure them
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
where the wild winds won’t blow”
V
As Jimmy set a-sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears from her eyes
in great torrents did a-flow
As she stood on the beach,
oh her hands she was wringing
Crying, “Oh and alas,
will I e’er see you more?”
VI
As Jimmy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
they filled him with pride
He said, “Nancy, lovely Nancy,
if I had you here, love
How happy I’d be for
to make you my bride”
VII
So Jimmy wrote a letter
to his own lovely Nancy
Saying, “If you have proved constant, well, I will prove true”
Oh but Nancy was dying,
for her poor heart was broken
Oh the day that he left her,
forever he’d rue
VIII
Come all of you young maidens,
I pray, take a warning
And don’t trust a sailor boy
or any of his kind
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their love, it is tempestuous
as the wavering wind
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I LUI
“Addio bella Nancy
che ora ti devo lasciare,
per le Indie Occidentali
sto per salpare,
che la mia lunga assenza
non ti crei affanno,
perche amore mio
io ritornerò entro l’anno”
II LEI
“Non dire che mi lasci qui,
Jimmy amore mio,
non dire che mi lasci
qui sulla spiaggia,
lo sai bene che
la tua lunga assenza mi addolorerà, perchè tu navighi nel vasto oceano
dove ruggiscono gli immensi flutti.
III
Mi taglierò i boccoli
biondi e ricci,
mi metterò i panni
di un mozzo,
e quando saremo fuori
nell’oscuro, beccheggiante oceano, starò sempre accanto a te,
mio orgoglio e gioia”
IV LUI
“Le tue mani bianche come giglio
non riuscirebbero a maneggiare le cime
e nemmeno i tuoi piedini delicati
riuscirebbero a salire sull’albero maestro e le fredde tempeste invernali
non saresti in grado di sopportare.
Resta a casa amata Nancy,
dove non soffia forte il vento.”
V
Appena Jimmy fu a bordo
la bella Nancy si lamentò,
le lacrime dagli occhi
scorrevano come torrenti
mentre stava sulla spiaggia
si torceva le mani
gridando “Ahimè
ti vedrò ancora?”
VI
Mentre Jimmy stava camminando
per il molo di Filadelfia
i pensieri del suo vero amore
lo riempivano d’orgoglio
diceva: “Nancy, amata Nancy
se ti avessi qui, amore,
quanto sarei felice
di farti la mia sposa!”
VII
Così Jimmy scrisse una lettera
alla sua amata Nancy
dicendo “Se mi sei restata fedele
allora ti mostrerò fedeltà”
Ma Nancy stava morendo, perchè il suo povero cuore si era spezzato il giorno in cui lui l’aveva lasciata e per sempre lui se ne sarebbe pentito.
VIII
Venite tutte voi giovani fanciulle, accettate il mio consiglio
e non fidatevi di un marinaio
o di altri della sua specie,
perchè prima vi corteggeranno
e poi vi inganneranno
perchè il loro amore è tempestoso come il vento incostante.

LA MORTE DI CREPACUORE

In questa versione sono tagliate le strofe centrali in cui Nancy vuole travestirsi da marinaio per seguire il suo bel marinaio, ma c’è il finale melodrammatico della lettera che giunge troppo tardi al capezzale della morta.

Jarlath Henderson in Hearts Broken, Heads Turned, 2016  
Campionatori,  pianoforte e una voce espressiva per questo giovane  musicista  che ha vinto il BBC Young Folk Award nel 2003.


I
Fare thee well, lovely Nancy,
It’s now I must leave you,
To cross the main ocean
where the stormy winds blow,
let not my long journey
be of no trouble to you,
for you know I’ll be back
in the course of a year”
II
“Let’s talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Billy
Let’s talk not of leaving me
here all alone
for you know your long journey
at early will grieve me
stay at home lovely Billy
to the sea do not roar”
V-VI
As Billy went to sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears down her eyes
like fountains did flow
As Billy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
still run throu his eyes
VII
So Billy wrote a letter
to his own true love Nancy
Saying, “If you prove constant,
then I will prove true”
Lovely Nancy on death bed
could not recover
when the news was brough to her
but his true love was death
VIII
So come on ye pretty fair maids,
and a warning take by me
care for a sailor or of his kind men
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their minds are imperfectual like the westerly wind
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I LUI
“Addio bella Nancy
ora ti devo lasciare,
per attraversare l’oceano
dove soffiano i venti di tempesta,
che la mia lunga assenza
non ti crei affanno,
perchè io ritornerò
entro l’anno”
II LEI
“Non dire che mi lasci qui,
caro Billy
non dire che mi lasci
qui tutta sola,
lo sai bene che il tuo lungo viaggio
alla lunga mi addolorerà,
resta a casa caro Billy
non andare per mare”
V-VI
Appena Billy fu a bordo
la bella Nancy si lamentò,
le lacrime dagli occhi
zampillavano come fontane.
Mentre Billy stava camminando
per il molo di Filadelfia
i pensieri del suo vero amore
gli scorrevano innanzi agli occhi
VII
Così Billy scrisse una lettera
alla sua amata Nancy
“Se mi sei restata fedele
allora ti mostrerò che sono sincero”
La cara Nancy sul letto di morte
non si riprendeva
quando le fu portata la lettera
era già morta
VIII
Venite tutte voi giovani fanciulle,
accettate il mio consiglio
e non fidatevi di un marinaio o di altri della sua specie,
perchè prima vi corteggeranno
e poi vi inganneranno
perchè il loro amore è scostante
come il vento dell’ovest.
000brgcf
Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
versione americana/irlandese: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
versione sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

FONTI
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/farewellnancy.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27483
http://www.8notes.com/scores/4582.asp?ftype=gif

Addio Bella Nancy

Read the post in English  

“Farewell Lovely Nancy” oppure “Lovely Nancy” è una ballata tradizionale raccolta nel 1905 da Cecil Sharp dalla signora Susan Williams, Somerset (Inghilterra), nell’addio il bel marinaio in partenza per i mari del Sud, dissuade la fidanzata che vorrebbe seguirlo travestendosi da mozzo, dicendole che il lavoro sulla nave non è cosa per femmine!

Così scrive AL Lloyd nelle note all’LP “A Sailor’s Garland”: Indossare abiti da marinaio e imbarcarsi clandestinamente era un’idea balzana che passava per la testa delle ragazze di uno o due secoli fa, volendo credere alle canzoni tradizionali. Questa canzone è stata ampiamente trovata nel Sud dell’Inghilterra e anche in Irlanda.” 

CROSS-DRESSING BALLADS

Nei canti del mare troviamo (anche se non frequentemente) il tema della ragazza travestita da marinaio che affronta la dura vita del mare per desiderio d’amore e avventura.
Le cross-dressing ballads sono in effetti per lo più inerenti a donne che vanno a svolgere un’attività maschile per eccellenza, come quella del marinaio o del soldato.

Ed Harcourt in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys ANTI 2006 in una versione molto romantica, quasi crepuscolare

Ian Campbell & Dave Swarbrick 1964

 John Molineaux voce e appalachian dulcimer (live)


I.
“Fare you well me lovely Nancy
for it’s now I must leave you,
All along the Southern(1) sea
I am bound for to go.
Don’t let my long absence be
no trouble to you,
For I shall return in the spring
as you know.”
II.
“Like some pretty little seaboy
I’ll dress and go with you,
In the deepest of dangers
I shall stand your friend.(2)
In the cold stormy weather
when the winds are a-blowing,
My dear I’ll be willing
to wait for you then”
III.
“Well, your pretty little hands
they can’t handle our tackle,
And dour dainty little feet
to our topmast can’t go.
And the cold stormy weather love
you can’t well endure,
I would have you ashore
when the (raging) winds they do blow.
IV.(4)
So fare you well me lovely Nancy
for it’s now I must leave you,
All along the Southern sea
I am bound for to go.
As you must be safe
I’ll be loyal and constant
For I shall return in the spring
as you know.”
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I LUI
“Addio mia bella Nancy
perchè ti devo lasciare
per i mari del Sud(1),
sto per salpare
e non permettere che la mia lunga assenza t’affanni,
perchè io ritornerò in primavera,
come d’accordo”
II LEI
“Come un giovane mozzo
mi vestirò e verrò con te,
in mezzo ai grandi pericoli
ti sarò compagna.(2)
Nella fredda tempesta
mentre i venti soffiano,
mio caro, sarò disposta
ad aspettarti”
III LUI
“Ma le tue belle manine
non possono maneggiare il nostro equipaggiamento, e nemmeno i tuoi piedini delicati, posso andare sul sartiame delle vele, e il freddo vento di tempesta amore mio non sei in grado di sopportare, ti preferisco a terra, quando i venti soffiano.
IV(4)
Così addio mia bella Nancy
che è l’ora di andare
per i mari del Sud
sto per salpare
mentre tu starai al sicuro
io ti sarò fedele
perchè tornerò in primavera
come d’accordo.”

NOTE
1) in Sharp è “salt seas” ma diventa “western ocean” nella versione di A. L. Lloyd
2) in A. L. Lloyd diventa “My love, I’ll be ready to reef your topsail“.
3) nel senso di membro della ciurma
4) la strofa di chiusura in una versione irlandese scritta in Ancient Irish Music (1873 e 1888) di Patrick Weston Joyce dice
So farewell, my dearest Nancy, since I must now leave you;
Unto the salt seas I am bound for to go,
Where the winds do blow high and the seas loud do roar;
So may yourself contented be kind and stay on shore.
(Così addio mia adorata Nancy che ti devo lasciare
per il vasto mare sto per salpare
dove i venti soffiano  e i mari ruggiscono forte
così accontentati fa la brava e resta a terra”)

000brgcf
la versione di Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
la versione di Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
versione inglese: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
versione americana/irlandese: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
versione sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

FONTI
http://www.contemplator.com/england/fnancy.html
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/farewellnancy.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27483
http://www.goldenhindmusic.com/lyrics/FAREWELL.html

La terra santa dei marinai

Read the post in English  

No, non stiamo parlando di Gerusalemme e la sea song “Holy ground” è ancor meno vicina ai salmi di quanto il titolo lasci intendere! Si tratta di una sea shanty dalle origini incerte diffusa in molte varianti un po’ per tutta la Gran Bretagna e l’Irlanda nonché l’America sulle rotte delle baleniere che un tempo solcavano i mari partendo dall’Irlanda e dalla Gran Bretagna; per un marinaio infatti “la terra promessa” non è altro che una zona del porto o una strada piena di locande, pubs o taverne dove divertirsi con bevute, donne e canzoni!
L’argomento con titoli diversi e la stessa melodia, si ripropone con versi molto simili dalla Scozia all’Irlanda, e tuttavia si delinea un duplice registro, da una parte è la tipica e allegra canzone marinaresca, a volte sguaiata e inneggiante alle colossali bevute, e dall’altra assume una vena più intimista e fragile, che riflette sulla solitudine e il pericolo del vita in mare. 

Cove Harbour: The scenery and antiquities of Ireland (Volume I)  N.P. Willis, J.S. Coyne e W.H. Bartlett. Londra: George Virtue, ca. 1841.

VERSIONE IRLANDESE: HOLY GROUND

The Holy Ground” anche come “Fine Girl You Are” o “The Cobh Sea Shanty” è la versione diffusa in Irlanda, e prende il nome da un quartiere di Cobh cittadina portuale un tempo conosciuta come Queenstown, noto porto dell’emigrazione irlandese nella contea di Cork: un marinaio di Cobh sta per prendere il mare lasciando a casa la sua innamorata, parte però con la speranza di ritornare presto da lei. L’arrangiamento di questa versione “made Clancy Brothers” negli anni 60 è decisamente scanzonato e molti dei gruppi più recenti nella scena irlandese li omaggiano riproponendo il brano pari pari e indossando anche gli stessi maglioni che li resero caratteristici in tutto il mondo!
Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem

The High Kings

The Kilkennys


I
Fare thee well my lovely Dinah,
a thousand times adieu
For we’re going away
from the Holy Ground(1)
and the girls we all loved true
And we’ll sail the salt sea over,
but we’ll return for sure
To greet(2) again the girls we loved,
on the Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
Chorus:
You’re the girl I do adore
and still I live in hopes to see
The Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
II
And now the storm is raging
and we are far from shore
And the good old ship is tossing about and the rigging is all tore
And the secret of my mind,
I think you’re the girl I do adore
For soon we live in hopes(3)
to see the Holy Ground once more
(fine girl you are)
III
And now the storm is over
and we are safe and well
We’ll go into a public house
and we’ll sit and drink like hell
We’ll drink strong ale and porter(4) and we’ll make the rafters roar(5)
And when our money is all spent,
we’ll go to sea once more
(fine girl you are)
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Addio a te mia amata Dina,
mille volte addio,
perchè stiamo andando via
dalla Terra Santa (1) e dalle donne che tutti noi amiamo davvero,
e salperemo per il mare salato
ma di certo ritorneremo,
per vedere (2) di nuovo le donne che amiamo e la Terra Santa ancora una volta (che bella ragazza sei)
CORO
Sei la ragazza che adoro
e ancora vivo nella speranza di vederti Terra Santa ancora una volta
(che bella ragazza sei)

II
E ora la tempesta infuria
e siamo lontani dalla terra
e la vecchia cara nave è sballottata
e il sartiame è tutto strappato
e nel profondo del mio cuore
credo che tu sai la ragazza che amo, perchè viviamo con la speranza (3) di vedere la Terra Santa ancora una volta (che bella ragazza sei)
III
E ora la tempesta è passata
e siamo sani e salvi
andremo in una taverna
per sederci e bere come dannati
berremo birra forte e porter (4)
e faremo tremare il tetto (5).
E quando il denaro sarà tutto speso, andremo per mare ancora una volta (che bella ragazza sei)

NOTE
1) forse un quartiere a luci rosse della città ossia la zona del porto piena di locali per far divertire i marinai, nei dizionari è riportato come slang proprio del XVIII secolo, nel contesto della canzone è però più idelamente la propria città
2) nella versione dei The High King è scritto to see
3) nella versione dei The High King è scritto And still I live in hopes
4) porter è il termine settecentesco con cui gli irlandesi identificavano la birra scura; oggi si dice stout
5) l’espressione “scuotere il tetto” si riferisce al far traballare le travi del soffitto con cui erano puntellati i solai delle locande di una volta; è un po’ equivalente all’espressione idiomatica italiana “scuotere le fondamenta” nel senso di fare molto rumore

E tuttavia la versione originaria della melodia era più meditativa e malinconica, si veda la versione gallese “Old Swansea Town Once More”
Mary Black in The Holy Ground 1993 ad esempio la riporta da punto di vista femminile


I
Farewell my lovely Johnny,
a thousand times adieu
You are going away
from the holy ground
And the ones that love you true
You will sail the salt seas over
And then return for sure
To see again the ones you love
And the holy ground once more
II
You’re on the salt sea sailing
And I am safe behind
Fond letters I will write to you
The secrets of my mind
And the secrets of my mind, my love
You’re the one that I adore
Still I live in hopes you’ll see
The holy ground once more
III
I see the storm a risin’
And it’s coming quick and soon
And the night’s so dark and cloudy
You can scarcely see the moon
And the secrets of my mind, my love
You’re the one that I adore
And still I live in hopes you’ll see
The holy ground once more
IV
But now the storms are over
And you are safe and well
We will go into a public house
And we’ll sit and drink our fill
We will drink strong ale and porter
And we’ll make the rafters roar
And when our money it is all spent
You’ll go to sea once more
You’re the one that I adore
And still I live in hopes that you’ll see
The holy ground once more
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Addio mio amato Johnny
diecimila volte addio;
stai per lasciare
la Terra santa
sei tu il ragazzo che amo.
Navigherai per il mare salato
e poi ritornerai di certo
per rivedere di nuovo colei che ami
e la Terra santa  ancora una volta
II
Sei a navigare per mare
e  io sonoi rimasta indietro al sicuro
dolci lettere ti scriverò
sui miei pensieri più segreti
sui miei pensieri più segreti, mio caro
sei tu colui che amo
così vivo con la speranza che tu rivedrai la Terra santa ancora una volta
III
Vedo  la tempesta che si sta alzando
ed è in arrivo rapidamente
la notte così buia e nuvolosa
che si riesce a mala pena a vedere la luna, e i miei pensieri più segreti,
sei tu colui che amo
così vivo con la speranza che tu rivedrai la Terra santa ancora una volta
IV
E ora la tempesta è passata
e sei sano e salvo
andremo in una taverna
per sederci e bere come dannati
berremo birra forte e porter
e faremo tremare il tetto.
E quando il denaro sarà tutto speso,
andrai per mare ancora una volta
sei tu colui che amo
così vivo con la speranza che tu rivedrai la Terra santa ancora una volta
Vista del porto di Swansea

VERSIONE GALLESE: OLD SWANSEA TOWN ONCE MORE

“Old Swansea Town Once More” o più brevemente “Swansea Town” è la versione diffusa nel Galles della sea shanty “Fine Girl You Are” , ed è stata raccolta nell’Hampshire nel 1905 da George Gardiner (cantata da William Randall di Hursley); anche se del testo esistono molte varianti, ecco la versione simile a quella irlandese: il protagonista s’imbarca probabilmente su una baleniera e pensa con nostalgia alla ragazza lasciata a casa. Una dura vita quella dei pescatori di balene che stavano mesi in mare aperto in balia dei capricci del tempo.

Storm Weather Shanty Choir in Cheer Up Me Lads! 2002, che la restituiscono più lenta e accorata, venata dalla nostalgia.


I(1)
Oh farewell to you sweet Nancy,
ten thousand times adieu;
I’m bound to cross the ocean, girl,
once more to part from you.
Once more to part from you,
fine girl
(Chorus)
You’re the girl that I do adore.
But still I live in hopes to see
old Swansea(2) town once more.

II
Oh it’s now that I am out at sea,
and you are far behind;
Kind letters I will write to you
of the secrets of my mind.
III
Oh now the storm is rising,
I can see it coming on;
The night so dark as anything,
we cannot see the moon.
IV
Oh, it’s now the storm is over
and we are safe on shore,
We’ll drink strong drinks
and brandies too
to the girls that we adore;
V (chorus)
To the girls that we adore, fine girls,
we’ll make this tavern roae,
And when our money is all gone,
we’ll go to sea for more.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Addio mia bella Nancy
diecimila volte addio;
parto per attraversare l’oceano,
e ancora una volta mi separo da te, ragazza e ancora una volta mi separo da te, bella ragazza
CORO
Tu sei la ragazza che amo
ma sempre vivo nella speranza di vederti vecchia Swansea ancora una volta
II
Adesso che sono per mare
e tu sei rimasta indietro e lontana,
dolci lettere ti scriverò
sui miei pensieri più segreti
III
Oh ora la tempesta si sta alzando
e la vedo in arrivo;
la notte così buia come nient’altro,
non si riesce a vedere la luna.
IV
Oh ora che la tempesta è passata
e siamo sani e salvi a terra,
berremo roba forte
e anche brandy
alla salute delle ragazze che amiamo;
V
alla salute delle ragazze che amiamo, belle ragazze, faremo tremare questa taverna,  e quando il denaro  sarà tutto speso, andremo per mare ancora una volta

NOTE
1) strofa alternativa
Oh the Lord, made the bees,
An’ the bees did make the honey,
But the Devil sent the woman for to rob us of our money.
An around Cape Horn we’ll go!
An when me money’s all spent ol’ gal,
We’ll round Cape Horn for more ol’ gal, ol’ gal!
(gal è un termine marinaresco al posto di girl)
2) Swansea è una città costiera del Galles meridionale

APPROFONDIMENTO
HOLY GROUND ONCE MORE
ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY

FONTI
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/forum/1137.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=116846
http://brethrencoast.com/shanty/Old_Swansea_Town.html

http://www.swanseadocks.co.uk/Old%20Dock%20Images%202.htm