Fanny's Harbour Bawn (Mark Walker)

As I roamed out one evening
in the lovely month of May,
Those verdant hills I rambled
to view the distant bay;
The craft were flocking down the shore,
and pleasant looked the day,
When to my surprise a pair I spied
that caused me to delay.

'twas then I saw a young man
embracing fondly,
The charms of a fair one
that once was loved by me;
My heart with jealous notions
felt eagerly the wrong
Which caused this fearful contest
on Fanny's Harbour Bawn.

I did address this young man
and unto him did say,
"Are you from Bonavista
or are you from the Bay?
I think you are a Northern man -
a Bayman, I presume,
So I pray to be gone all from the Bawn
or I'll boot you in your bloom."

He quickly made an answer,
and this to me did say:
"I'm not from Bonavista
but I am from the Bay,
I do reside where storms and tide
have swept down buildings strong,
Here in full glee from T and C
to meet you on the Bawn."

He stood no hesitation,
but struck immediately,
This damsel mild stood like a child
to witness the affray;
A pain then in my chest he rose
before 'twas very long,
My person, pucked and darling,
took on Fanny's Harbour Bawn.

He skinned my nose down my poor face
as I instantly did rise,
And soon unto my eagle brow
he joined a bunch of fives;
I lay there prostrated
and quite lifeless on the Bawn,
And when I came to my senses
the Bayman he was gone.

Now when you meet with Northern men,
you'll think they're somewhat green,
You'll treat them with a scornful look
as unfit to be seen;
You'll scoff them and rebuke them
with a scolding tongue,
Till you them enrage and in a fight engage,
then from baymen you will run.

I will not fail to tell the tale
nor yet my true love's name,
Her name is Catherine Murphy
and she dwells in Roger's Lane;
And I'm a youth from Carbonear
once loved by her I know,
My curse attend that Northern man
that proved my overthrow.

Now to conclude these painful lines,
from courting I'll refrain,
And the rest of my companions
I hope they'll do the same;
For in courting there's great jealousy,
and likewise envy strong,
Which caused my claret blood to flow
on Fanny's Harbour Bawn.

####.... Mark Walker [1846-1924] of Tickle Cove, Bonavista Bay, NL ....####

See more Mark Walker songs.

Published in Gerald S Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (1st Ed, p.3, 1927, 2nd Ed, pp.34-35, 1940).

A similar variant was printed in 1905 as Fanny's Harbor Bawn on pp.10-11 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book, in 1912 on pp.3-4 of Old Songs of Newfoundland, and in 1923 on p.2 of Songs Their Fathers Sung, For Fishermen: Old Time Ditties, all of which were published in St John's by James Murphy [1867-1931].

James Murphy noted that "the fight related in these verses occurred on the Labrador Shore over half a century ago, or more [c.1877]. The "Bawn" is a place used by fishermen for spreading fish. The girl whom the love-sick swains fought over was said to have been a handsome damsel in her day."

Three variant tunes all with similar lyrics were collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1951 from Bill Brennan of King's Cove, and in 1959 from George William Decker [1878-1962] of Rocky Harbour, NL and Levi Everett Bennett [1899-?] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.185-188, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that the flowery language of this love adventure is typical of older native songs and betrays an Irish influence (see The Maid Of Newfoundland ).

Another variant was collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1980 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #36 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.62-63, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that the incident described in this song apparently took place in the mid-1800s - the young damsel being a native of St John's. Lehr also noted elsewhere that Mark Walker seems to have had his share of misfortunes with women - the loss of Lovely Katie-O is another example.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

Additional notes: 'T and C' (verse four) refers to Tickle Cove, NL, and a 'bunch of fives' (verse six) is a fist.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Bawn - grassy land or meadow near a house or settlement.


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