John Burke (Kenneth Peacock)

Come all ye good people,
come by and lend an ear,
It's a sad and a mournful story
you quickly shall hear;
It's about a young hero
in the height of his bloom,
Who has lost his sweet lfe
in a watery tomb.

Bad luck attend you, Percy,
wherever you may be,
You would not assist my Johnny
for he's drownèd in the sea;
You would leave him for to tumble
and to roll in the sea,
In that cold, cold bed of sorrow
far away from me.

If you were to hear his mother
how bitter she did weep,
For to see his body a-rising
and a-floating o'er the deep,
For the loss of her young hero
without spot or a stain,
He's the pride all of the family,
John Burke was his name.

If you were to hear his sister
how bitter she did weep,
If you were to hear his true love
how she mourned in her sleep,
Crying, "Johnny, lovely Johnny,
shall I never see you more
On that far, far field of glory
on the leeward shore?"

"All the ships on yonder ocean
will make no motion on the seas,
And the salmon and the trout
will forsake their clear streams;
And the birds will leave off singing
and the flowers will decay,
Since my Johnny was drownèd
in the flurry off Kerry Bay."

The day all of his funeral
his true love she was there,
She was dressed all in her rich robes
of scarlet so fair
For to view his tender body
going down in the clay,
Here's adieu, adieu to Johnny
as we all marched away.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a mournful lament ....####

Collected in 1960 by Kenneth Peacock from Joshua Osbourne [c1903-?] of Seal Cove, White Bay, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.467-468, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that he was unable to find any reference to this lament in the Irish collections at his disposal. Although obviously of late composition, the text is quite good, with many felicitous turns of phrase. The tune had no great beauty, he wrote, but is nevertheless distinctive enough not to be mistaken for any other (unlike so many late Iish tunes).


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