Henry's Songbook

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Banks of Claudy

'Twas on a summer's morning all in the month of May
And through some flowery gardens I carelessly did stray
I overheard a damsel in sorrow to complain
All for her absent lover that ploughed the raging main

I steppe'd up unto her and put her in surprise
I swear she did not know me, I being all in disguise
Says I, My handsome maiden, my joy and heart's delight
How far must you then wander this dark and dreary night

Just to the Banks of Claudy if you'll be pleased to show
Take pity on a fair maid, it's there I have to go
In search of a faithless young man, and Johnny is his name
And on the Banks of Claudy I'm told he does remain

These are the Banks of Claudy, young maid whereon you stand
But do not trust your Johnny for he's a false young man
No do not trust your Johnny, he will not meet you here
So come with me to the meadows and nothing need you fear

If Johnny he were here this night he'd keep me from all harm
But he's in the field of battle all in his uniform
He strives in the field of battle his foes he will destroy
Like a royal king of honour that fought on the banks of Troy

'Tis six long years or better since Johnny left this shore
He's cruising the main ocean performing billows roar
He's cruising the main ocean for honour and for gain
But I'm told his ship was wrecke'd on the cruel coast of Spain

Oh when she heard this dreadful news she fell in deep despair
A-wringing of her milk-white hands and a-tearing of her hair
If my Johnny he be drownded no man alive I'll talke
Through lonesome groves and valleys I'll wander for his sake

When he saw her love for him no longer could he stand
He flew into her arms saying, Patsy I'm your man
I am your faithless young man who you thought lay slain
Now since we met on Claudy Banks we'll never part again

As sung by Alex Campbell


Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1982:] In the middle ages one of the few entertainments available was to listen to ballads sung by minstrels. [...] The servants would creep in to the back of the hall and on to the balconies to listen to the stories. Some would learn them, or at least parts of them; and so, in time, ballads became an entertainment for the poor as well as the rich. [...] Poor people did not necessarily want to hear about the derring-do of noble knights and their ladies, so many ballads gradually lost their upper-class cast of characters, while still retaining the original story lines.

    [...] One such family is derived from a ballad called Hynd Horn, which began life as a story told in the medieval court. Hynd Horn variants appear in folksong collections under such titles as The broken token, A fair maid walking in her garden, The faithful sailor, The dark-eyed sailor and Claudy Banks, among many others. Although all these versions vary to some extent in words and details, all have the same basic Hynd Horn plot. [...] (Readers of H. G. Wells's 'Kipps' will recognise this as the source of the incident early in the novel when Kipps and his childhood sweetheart Ann split a sixpence between them, and the fact that Wells could use this device in 1905 perhaps shows what a powerful hold the 'broken token' image has on the popular imagination.

    [...] What makes the history of Hynd Horn unusual is that not only the story line but some of the details have been preserved intact. In 1898 Mrs Kate Lee was noting down songs at Rottingdean in East Sussex, and among the pieces she collected was one called Claudy Banks. The heroes of this song were called Betsy and Johnny. A few years later, at a Somerset cottage, the collector Cecil Sharp took down a song which he called The banks of Claudy from a Mrs Slade. In 1906 another collector, George Gardiner, listened to a Mr George Blake from Southampton singing a song that he called The broken token. The names kept changing: Betsy became Betty, Johnny became William, the Betty became Nancy. But the story remained the same, and so did individual lines of the texts. It is remarkable that [these] and a host of other singers from whom Hynd Horn variants were collected round about the same time were singing something that could be traced directly back to the middle ages. How could it happen? Part, at least, of the answer lies in the story of the broadsides.

    [...] some printers may have wanted to introduce a few embellishments of their own, or to change a few names and details so that their broadside was recognisably theirs. That was how Johnny became William, and Betty became Nancy. In some versions of Hynd Horn the faithful girl finds on the seashore not her long-lost lover but his body, and in searching for means of identification comes across the broken token.

    [The printer James Catnach's] version, published in the 1830s as Phoebe and her dark-eyed sailor (yet another change of name for the girl) is said by A. L. Lloyd to be the source of all the variants collected around 1900. However, this seems unlikely, and unfair to the resourcefulness of Victorian broadside entrepreneurs. Although, through all its variations, the Hynd Horn story remains recognisable, there have clearly been other hands at work, and these were probably pirate printers working by candlelight in Bristol, Nottingham and elsewhere. The Hynd Horn story was what would today be called a 'standard'. (Pollard, Folksong 4f)

    [...] the honour of noting the first folksong on behalf of the Folk Song Society went to Mrs Kate Lee who noted down Claudy Banks from the singing of the Copper family. (Pollard, Folksong 20)


  • english  [2003:] Claudy is in the north of Ireland, and the Australian version of the song refers also to Newry, not too far from Claudy. So we may reasonably conclude that this ballad began life in Ireland. But it has long been acclimatised in Britain, and some nineteenth century Scottish collectors indeed claimed that it originated in that country. It belongs to a kind of broadside balladry that flourished during that long period of struggle between Britain and France for imperial domination outside Europe, when a sailor might be away for many years with little chance of communicating with a lover at home.
    Along with Ginny/Jenny on the Moor, Claudy Banks belongs to a group of songs known as "Broken Token Ballads". Quite often the "token" has disappeared from the text (as here) but it is usually a ring which was broken and each of the lovers kept half while the young man went off to war. He comes back in disguise and attempts to test his lover's fidelity. When he has done so and she proves constant he reveals himself. Although it is not a "Broken Token Ballad" Here's Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy is almost an earlier part of the story because it has a line about exchanging rings. The song became well known in North America as well as throughout the British Isles. It was published as a broadside, and in songsters, and has been recorded from oral tradition in most parts of the English-speaking world. (Notes 'Song Links - The English Songs')

  • english  [2003:] This song has been widely collected in the British Isles and in North America, but only a few times in Australia. Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton learnt their version from a recording of Simon McDonald of Creswick. Creswick is a smallish town not far north of Ballarat, which was the great centre of the early goldrushes. Creswick itself was for a time an important goldmining town. Many recordings of Simmy McDonald's songs and fiddle tunes were made over a number of visits by a team from the now-defunct Folklore Society of Victoria. McDonald's account of his family history was somewhat confused, but it appears that a Scottish sailor named McDonld married a Belfast girl named Gannon, and that the married couple migrated to Victoria before the goldrushes began, accompanied by the wife's parents. Both sides of the family, incidentally, were Catholic. Simon McDonald spent all his life as an unmarried, itinerant bush worker. Most of the songs from the British Isles in his repertory seem to have been handed down from his Belfast great-grandfather, and a few from his Belfast great-grandmother. Oddly enough, many of them seem fairly certainly of English rather than Irish origin. All the original recordings of McDonald are now held by the National Library of Australia. The scholar Hugh Anderson recorded many interviews with McDonald, dealing with his life, his songs and the poems which he wrote himself. From these interviews Anderson produced a book on McDonald's life and times, called 'Time Out Of Mind'. (Notes 'Song Links - The Australian Songs')

  • english  See also
    Claudy Banks/Where are the Claudy Banks?

Quelle: Ireland

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aktualisiert am 02.04.2010, 08.09.99