MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Bonny Carlo
Frank Knox NFLD 2 Tape 18A Track 7
St. Shott's Audio:
Ballad

I'm a poor distressed maiden in sad lamentation
And love is the cause of my pain
For the loss of a heart l can cry for vexation
For Cupid my poor heart is slain

Charles O'Neil was the lad l adored
He's the fairest and dearest around Erin's shore
He's gone to proud Spain where the loud cannons roar
He's the hero from Bonny Carlo

My true love was five foot ten
Well shaped in every degree
No poplar tree could ever grow straighter
Than the lad who is gone far from me

His hair was coal black, his cheeks rosy red
His eyes like the diamonds that roll in his head
Now l am afraid that my darling is dead
He's the hero from Bonny Carlo

Now-
My love was scarce nineteen when him and l parted
It being on the first of July
He left lovely Mary here broken-hearted
In sorrow and sadness to cry

They took him away from old Erin so green
To fight for the rights of a proud Spanish queen
Now l am afraid that my darling is slain
He's the hero from Bonny Carlo

They took him on board and sailed down the river
I watched him clean out of my sight
My heart was near broken my eyes were on fire
How dreary and dark was the night

On the quarter-deck where my true love did stand
He courteously bowed and moved his right hand
He spoke a few words l could scarce understand
He's the hero from Bonny Carlo

They took him on board and sailed down the river
l watched him clean out of my sight
My heart was near broken my eyes were on fire
How dreary and dark was the night

That night as l lay on my pillow to sleep
All through the night l continued to weep
I dreamt that my darling was sunk in the deep
He's the hero from Bonny Carlo

And now l have heard that my true love is wounded
And that by a large cannon ball
I cries broken-hearted. Farewell dearest darling
So loudly in sadness did call

And now to conclude and finish all strife
I'll cut the sweet threads of a bright single life
I'd rather be dead since I can't be the wife
Of the hero from Bonny Carlo


Notes


History: Reference to fighting on the Spanish main           

Text: The narrator is female. She tells of how she lost her love when he went to fight on the Spanish main. She fears he is dead. Late in the song, she hears that he has been badly wounded by a cannon ball and she says she also wants to die.

Tune: An unusual six-line stanza structure: aa'bcde.   The 'a' and 'e' phrases share a similar, rising third cadence. The scale is major and the metre triple.

 

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