The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707 Message #2288552
Posted By: Reiver 2
14-Mar-08 - 04:25 PM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
The notes on Carrickfurgus in "Folksongs and Ballads Popular in Ireland" (Vol.I) just say, "A very evocative old song; parts of the lyrics can be found in the folksongs of most English-speaking countries. 'The Water Is Wide' is an English/Scots version which is also known in America." This raises the question, why only English-speaking countries? Is is possible that similar lyrics or sentiments exist in the folk traditions of non-English-speaking countries?
The Joan Baez songbook has this note for "The Water is Wide." "Originally part of a long Scots ballad, 'Lord Jamie Douglas,' all that remains are these few verses which constitute the emotional core of that ballad. Most singers know it in another form as 'Waly, Waly,' by which title it was known as far back as the early 18th century. It remains one of the most beautiful and evocative of all British lyric folksongs." "Lord Jamie Douglas" is not in the Digitrad. Nor do I find it in Child's "English and Scottish Popular Ballads." Child ballad #204, is titled "Jamie Douglas," but I can't see any resemblance to Carrickfergus, The Water Is Wide or Waly,Waly. That led me to think that "Lord Jamie Douglas" and Child's "Jamie Douglas are not the same.
But hold everything!! "The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World," (Albert B Friedman, ED., Viking Press, 1956), has this notation for "Jamie Douglas": "In 1681, after eleven years of marriage, James, Marquis of Douglas, head of the great Scottish family. formally 'put aside' his wife. The ballad of 'Jamie Douglas' registers the marchioness's complaint against James Lockhart of Blackwood (in reality William Lawrie, called Blackwood), whom she accuses of having maliciously alienated her husband from her. The ballad's dramatic first-person style deserves comment, but of greater interest is the curious connection between 'Jamie Douglas' and the lyric complaint, 'Waly, Waly, But Love Be Bonny'. As many as four stanzas of the lyric have infiltrated certain versions of the ballad. Since the lyric is so much more smoothly integrated than the ballad, one deduces that this moving lament of an abandoned girl about to become a mother is the older song. Seemingly the girl's situaation was so much like that of the discarded marchioness that borrowing was inevitable."
An interesting thing here is that the "Waly, Waly" expression appears in two stanzas of Version B but not at all in Version A (which is the only version in Child's book). Version B makes no mention of Jamie Douglas or "Blackwood." (There are a few lines in the two versions that ARE the same, but only a few.) Also, the girl in Version B, although no longer "a maid" appears to be childless (in the last stanza she laments, "if my young babes were born," while in the final stanza of Version A the marchioness says, "Fare thee well, Jamie Douglas! Be kind to the three babes I've born to thee." Version A is, thus a ballad based on actual persons, while in Version B the individuals are either un-named, unknown or fictitious.
It would seem that in many instances the supposed "links" between songs are very tenuous, sometimes involving only the borrowing of a line or two of the lyric or a reference to a similar situation or expression. I'm not sure if the "borrowing" of a single line or two can properly be considered evidence for a "source" of an entire song or ballad. Anyway, I doubt if this clarifies anything about "Carrickfergus," but may be of some interest to some researchers of "original" sources. And, oh, yes - if the song is based on "Jamie Douglas" it's older even than Peter O'Toole! ;-)