Henry's Songbook

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The Grey Cock

  • (Trad - Child #248)

    I must be going, no longer staying
    The burning Thames I have to cross
    I will be guided without a stumble
    Into the arms I love the best

    And when he came to his true love's window
    He knelt down gently all on a stone
    And it's through the pane he has whispered slowly
    My darling dear, do you lie alone

    She's raised her head from her down-soft pillow
    And snowy were her milk-white breasts
    Saying, Who's that, who's that at my bedroom window
    Disturbing me from my long night's rest

    'Tis I your love, but don't discover
    I pray you rise and let me in
    For I am fatigued from my long night's journey
    Besides, I am wet unto my skin

    So this young girl rose and put on her clothing
    So swift she's let her true love in
    And it's there they kissed and embraced each other
    Through that long night they'd lie as one

    Then it's, Willie dear, o dearest Willie
    Where is your colour you'd some time ago
    O Mary dear, the clay has changed me
    I'm but the ghost of your Willie O

    Then it's, Cock, O cock, o handsome cockerel
    I pray you not crow before it is day
    And your wings I'll make of the very first beaten gold
    Your comb I will make of the silver grey

    But the cock he crew and he crew so fully
    He crew three hours before it was day
    And before't was day my love had to leave me
    Not by light of the moon nor light of the sun

    So my Willie dear, o dearest Willie
    When shall I see you again
    When the fishes fly, love, and the sea runs dry, love
    And the rocks they melt in the heat of the sun

    As sung by Eliza Carthy

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1959:] A number of lyrical folk songs present the situation of two lovers disturbed by the early crowing of a cock. Perhaps the origin of these songs is found in this superrnatural ballad of the lover returned from the dead. The idea that such revenants must go again 'from the world of pity to the world without pity' when the birds cry at dawn is an ancient folklore notion that has spread from the Orient, through the Balkans, as far west as Ireland. Perhaps it is surprising to find such a rare ballad surviving as late as 1951 in the city of Birmingham, where it was recorded from an English-born singer of Irish descent. The Grey Cock appears as No. 248 in Child's collection, but not in such good shape as here. (Penguin Book of English Folk Songs 116)

  • [1994:] Having decided to sing [this] again after quite a long time, I accidentally practised it in Eliza's hearing. She promptly announced that the song was, in fact, hers and, after another hearing-and-a-bit, she knew the whole thing. [...] The song comes from a recording made in the 1960s of Mrs Cecilia Costello, an Irish woman domiciling in Birmingham, who was featured on her own fine album produced by Bill Leader in the early 1970s. That the song turned up when and where it did was exciting given that it's a pretty rare piece. (Martin Carthy, notes 'Waterson:Carthy')

  • [1994:] One of the most persistent of the great ballads is the piece often called The Grey Cock, although, curiously enough, Francis J. Child never found a full set. This version, more formally lyrical than usual, and presenting the woman as the ghostly revenant, is one the great Irish collector Patrick W. Joyce learnt as a boy in the 1830s in his native village of Glenosheen, Co. Limerick. (Notes 'Classic A. L. Lloyd')

  • See also Night Visiting Song

    Lover's Ghost Lyrics

Quelle: Ireland / England

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21.10.2003 aktualisiert am 22.10.2003