The Forsaken Mother And Child (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: It Was Early One Cold Winter's Morning
(MacEdward Leach)

'Twas on a cold winter's evening,
the very first fall of snow,
The damsel she came rolling down
all in a drift of snow,
With her baby in her arms
she knew not where to go.

"Oh, hush, my baby boy,
and lay close unto my breast;
How little do your dadda know
this night we're in distress.
They will kiss you and they will court you
till your favour they have gained,
And then they'll go and leave you
in sorrow, grief, and shame.

"How cruel was my father,
he locked the door on me,
And cruel was my mother,
she had no pity on me;
And cruel was that wintry wind
that pierced my heart with cold,
And cruel was that false young man
that sold his love for gold.

"So I'll go down in some lonely valley
and there I will lay down,
And pray to the Almighty God
to have mercy on my soul."
Where she kissed her baby's pale cold lips
and laid it by her side,
She cast her eyes to heaven,
the son and mother died.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Fatal Snowstorm [Laws P20] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957) .... ####

Collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs Isaac Freeman (Catherine) Bennett [1908-2006] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.447-448, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that this 'tearjerker' is one of a number of moralizing nineteenth century ballads which illustrate the extent and depth of public censure over private acts. Even the closest members of the family react according to the official moral line. William Roy Mackenzie [1883-1957] noted the ballad in Nova Scotia, and Edith Fowke found it in Ontario. It appeared to be quite rare - mercifully so - for no other versions had been noted from oral traditions to Peacock's knowledge back in 1965. He noted further that one often hears this sort of half-baked hymn in Newfoundland, especially in those outports where evangelists of various Christian sects have moved in to lure the 'natives' away from their wicked habits like dancing and singing folksongs.

A variant was also collected from Theresa White [ca.1934-?] of Port au Port, NL, and published as It Was Early One Cold Winter's Morning in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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