MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Bonny Bunch of Roses

Performed by Ernest Poole Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 17A Track 10
Community: Cape Ray Audio: Yes
Genre: Ballad / battle Laws J5

Transcription

Leach: No. Come on

By the borders of the ocean one morning in the ninth of June
For to hear those warlike songsters their cheerful notes sang sweetly tuned
I overheard a female talking which seems to be in grief and woe
Conversing with young Bonaparte concerning of the bonny bunch of roses-o

Then up steps young Napoleon and takes his mother by the hand
Saying, "Mother dear have patience until I am able to take command
Then I will take an army so command your saviours I will go
Then smite down all universities l will conquer the bonny bunch of roses-o

He took five hundred thousand men with kings likewise to bear his train
He was so well provided for that he could sweep the world alone
But when he came to Moscow he was overpowered by the driven snow
When Moscow was a-blazing so he lost his bonny bunch of roses-o

Now son don't speak of virtues son for in England are the hearts of oak
There is England Ireland Scotland their unity was never broke
Now son think on thy father on the isle of St. Helena his body lies low
And you must soon follow after him so beware of the bonny bunch of roses-o

Now do believe my dearest mother now lie I on my dying bed
If I had lived I'd been clever but now I but droop my youthful head
And while our body lies a-mouldering and weeping willows over a body grows
The deeds of great Napoleon will sting the bonny bunch of roses-o


Notes

Sources: Mercer 102; Laws J5; Greenleaf 1968: 170; Peacock, 988; Mackenzie, 72; Creighton 140 ("The Battle of Alma"). Roud 664.

History: The song concerns the French invasion scares of 1852. Napoleon III's imprisonment in Vienna was narrated as a broadside ballad shortly after he died of tuberculosis at age 21. It resembles an earlier broadside, often titled "The Bunch of Roses."   Creighton suggests that it is an anti-Jacobite song, adapted to Napoleon, and cites various Irish sources (Creighton 142).

Text notes: The "Bonny Bunch of Roses" refers to Great Britain, whom the young Napoleon promises to capture. His mother reminds him of past defeats in Russia and of the strength of Britain.

Tune notes:

 

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