Crazy Jane (Kenneth Peacock)

Why, fair maid in every feature,
Are such signs so fair expressed?
Can a wandering wretched creature
With such terror fill thy breast?

Does my frenzy look so ugly?
Trust me, sweet, life's airs are vain,
Not for kingdoms would I harm thee,
Shun not then, poor Crazy Jane.

Does my frenzy seem to harm thee?
Mark me and avoid my woe,
When men flatter, sigh, and languish,
Think them false, I found them so.

For I love thee so sincerely
None could ever love again,
Young Henry fled and with him forever
Fled the wits of Crazy Jane.

Fondly my young heart receiv'd him,
Which was doomed to love but one.
He sighed - he vowed - and I believed him,
He was false - and I undone.

Since that hour has reason never
Held her empire o'er my brain,
Young Henry fled and with him forever
Fled the wits of Crazy Jane.

Lonely now and broken hearted,
And with frenzied thoughts beset
On that spot where last we parted,
On that spot where first we met.

Then I will sing my lovelorn ditty,
Still I'll lonely pace the plain,
And each passerby in pity cries:
"God help poor Crazy Jane!"

####.... Variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad with words attributed to Matthew Gregory Lewis [1775-1818] the English novelist, playwright, poet, and composer known as "Monk" Lewis for his sensational and lurid Gothic novel "The Monk" (1796). Also a variant of a British broadside ballad, The Favorite Song, Of Crazy Jane, published by Burbage and Stretton (Nottingham) sometime between 1797 and 1807, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 12(141) ....####

Collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Edward Taylor of Joe Batt's Arm, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.436-437, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that when he heard Mr Taylor sing this lament, he thought immediately of the Yeats series of Crazy Jane poems. However, it does not appear in the Yeats collection. Quite by accident, Peacock later came across it in a collection called The Quaver, or Songster's Pocket Companion, printed and published by William Milner, Cheapside, 1841. Yeats was familiar with it and used it as a source of inspiration for his own poems about Crazy Jane. Irish scholars probably know the whole history and have traced the Crazy Jane Legend to its source. Peacock also noted that this Newfoundland variant follows the printed version quite closely. The first line of verse 3 in the printed version is different, however: Do you weep to see my anguish? and verse 5 is from the printed version.


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