MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Molly Bawn

Performed by Alphonse O'Driscoll Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 1 Track 10
Community: Tors Cove Audio: Yes
Genre: Ballad / love killed in error Laws O36 ("The Shooting of His Dear")

Transcription

Here I am sad and lonely here in the distant west
And the pleasant dreams of bygone days at night disturb my rest
But in this faithful heart of mine forgotten never shall be
Oh the days I spent with Molly Bawn of old beyond Loch Lee

For she was young and slender, as gentle as a fawn
Her eyes they shone like diamonds bright or like the stars at dawn
Her smile she had for everyone but her kisses were all for me
Entranced I gazed on Molly Bawn of old beyond Loch Lee

And when I claimed her for my bride how happy then was I
How pleasant were the hours of love and how quickly they'd pass by
A pleasant light shone in her eyes, she was too good for me
When an angel claimed her for his own and took her from Loch Lee

Here I have travelled the stormy world, my hair is silvery hue
A plaintive voice rings in my mind its tone I can't subdue
Her lovely form it haunts me still and her pleasant face I can see
For it is the face of Molly Bawn of old beyond Loch Lee

For she was young and slender, as gentle as a fawn
Her eyes they shone like diamonds bright or like the stars at dawn
Her smile she had for everyone but her kisses were all for me


Notes

Sources: Mercer 156; Fowke 1994: 60 ("Molly Vaughan"); Taft 50; recorded by John White (Rodeo RLP-85, 1959); Randolph I: 254 ("Molly Vaughn"); Henry 114; Roud 166.

History: Thought to be of Irish origin, the earliest reference to this ballad is in 1806 (Randolph, 254), but the swan motif is much older, found for instance in Gaelic as well as Greek mythology.

Text notes: In many variants of this song, the beloved is mistaken for a swan and shot by her lover. (Fowke equates the name "Vaughan" - or "Bawn" in this version - with "fawn." The name is probably an anglicization of the Irish adjective "ban", meaning "fair."). Here we learn of the lover's despair over the loss of his loved one but there is no indication of the cause of her death.

Tune notes: In 6/8 metre, and a major key, this melody has a classic arch-shaped abba pattern.

 

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