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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
SueH Tune Req: The Mower/Ile (Isle) de France^^ (34) RE: The Mower/Ile (Isle) de France 21 Jul 99

Just a bit more background information on these 2, Joe (& any other interested parties).

The Ile de France was recorded on Martyn's 'Emu Plains' LP in 1981, & had Nic Jones playing fiddle on it. The notes on it say:

'One of the many songs of the transportation of convicts to the penal settlements of New South Wales or Tasmania in the earlier years of the 19th century. This one is different from most in that the convicted man has finished his sentence & is shipwrecked on his way home. The song has every appearance of being made in Ireland rather than Australia, & was known on this side of the world, appearing in W. Percy Merrick's 'Folk Songs From Sussex 1912'. Other versions have turned up in Somerset & Leeds. The tune & opening verse was collected by Ron Edwards in Cairns, Queensland. Martyn got it from Edwards' 'Big Book of Australian Folk Songs', published in 1976.

and about 'The Mower': (from Martyn's 'Andy's Gone' LP - which also features Nic Jones on fiddle!)

'The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), squire, linguist, parson & teacher, folk-lorist & writer, was a great eccentric & Non-Conformist. Despite a 'county' background, at 32 he insisted on marrying an illiterate Yorkshire mill girl. A further mark of his eccentricity was his sleeping bat that hung from his shoulder while he lectured his students at Hurstpierpoint. These are just two incidents taken from dozens of similarly outrageous ones that occurred in his very full life, and this makes his typical Victorian prudery over folk song texts all the more surprising. Even his unpublished manuscripts are littered with comments such as 'original words very gross & I did not note them', or, 'indecent!'. With regard to the Mower, he said 'This song exists in several versions; they vary very much but all are objectionable & I have therefore entirely rewritten it.' He changed the old sexual folk metaphor of the mower who cuts down young maids' meadows with his keen sharp ever ready scythe for an equally old but far more respectable symbol, that of Death. Baring-Gould published the song in 'A Garland of Country Song', published 1895. The tune, he assures us, is the original one collected.'

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