MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Silver Dagger
Frank Knox NFLD 2 Tape 19 Track 4
St. Shott's Audio:
Ballad

Arise arise you drowsy sleeper
Arise arise-

Arise arise you drowsy sleeper
Arise and listen unto me
There's someone at your bedroom window
Weeping, weeping bitterly

Who is that knocking at my window
Who sobs and sighs so mournfully
It's me; it's me your own true lover
Oh Mary come and pity me

As Mary rose from her soft down pillow
Went to her window without delay
And there she saw her own true lover
Standing by a willow tree

Oh Mary dear go ask your father
If you my wedded bride may be
If he says no return and tell me
And I'll no longer trouble thee

I dare not go and ask my father
For he lies on his bed of rest
Beside him lies a shining dagger
To slew [sic] the one that l love best

Mary dear go ask your mother
If you my wedded bride may be
If she says no, return and tell me
And I'll no longer trouble thee

I dare not go and ask my mother
For I'm the only one she has
So Willie dear go seek some other
She softly whispered in his ear

Young Willie took that shining Dagger
And pierced it through his aching heart
Adieu, adieu to my true lover
The time has come for us to part

Young Mary took that bloodstained dagger
And pierced it through her lily-white breast
Adieu, adieu to my cruel parents
l hope in heaven we will rest


Notes


Sources: Roud 402; Mercer 114 ("Drowsy Sleeper"); Laws M5;   Henry H722; Greenleaf 1968: 55 ("Drowsy Sleeper"); Leach 1965: 727 ("Drowsy Leeper"). Sharp and Karpeles recorded this under the title "Arise, Arise."

History: The first verse was first published in The Social Harp.   This ballad was recorded a number of times during the folk revival, by the New Lost City Ramblers among others (as "Little Satchel").

Text: A girl's lover knocks at her window. He asks her to seek her father's permission to marry but she refuses since he has a silver dagger by his bedside. He asks her to seek her mother's permission to marry but she refuses since her mother would be lonely without her. The girl sends him away and he kills himself in grief.

Tune:   This performance is mostly in 5/4 time, created by stretching the third beat of the bar. The form is aba'b'.   The "b" phrases are characterized by wide leaps. The key is major.

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