Foggy Dew

Foggy Dew

“Foggy Dew” (or “The Foggy Dew”) is the name of several ballads.

Foggy, Foggy Dew

The first song of this title was of English origin, sometimes called “Foggy, Foggy Dew”, and is a lamentful ballad of a young lover. It was published on a broadside around 1815, though there are very many versions: Cecil Sharp collected eight versions. [] Burl Ives, who popularized the song in the United States in the 1940's, claimed that a version dated to colonial America. Ives was once jailed in Mona, Utah, for singing it in public, when authorities deemed it a bawdy song. [Burl Ives, "The Wayfarying Stranger", New York: Whittlesey House, 1948, pp. 129-131.] BBC Radio likewise restricted broadcast of the song to programmes covering folk tunes or the works of Benjamin Britten. [citation|title=Russell Davies|author=Russell Davies|publisher=BBC Radio 2|date=21 Sep 2008|url=] The tune is a late 18th or early 19th century revision of "When I First Came To Court", licensed in 1689.

"When I was a bachelor, I liv'd all alone" "I worked at the weaver's trade" "And the only, only thing that I ever did wrong" "Was to woo a fair young maid." "I wooed her in the wintertime" "And in the summer, too" "And the only, only thing that I did that was wrong" "Was to keep her from the foggy, foggy dew."

"One night she came to my bedside" "When I was fast asleep." "She laid her head upon my bed" "And she began to weep." "She sighed, she cried, she damn near died" "She said what shall I do?" "So I hauled her into bed and covered up her head" "Just to keep her from the foggy foggy dew."

"So, I am a bachelor, I live with my son" "and we work at the weaver's trade." "And every single time that I look into his eyes" "He reminds me of that fair young maid." "He reminds me of the wintertime" "And of the summer, too," "And of the many, many times that I held her in my arms" "Just to keep her from the foggy, foggy, dew." [Version from "Folksongs" Arr. Benjamin Britten, Perf. Peter Pears, London Records]

An Irish version of the same song starts :

"When I was a bachelor, airy and young, I followed the roving trade," "And the only harm that ever I did was courting a servant maid". "I courted her all summer long, and part of the winter, too" "And many's the time I rolled my love all over the foggy dew.""

There are several other versions of the song as well some of which differ in minor ways e.g. [] , [] . The implication of this version is that the woman is pregnant, but this is unclear, as is the reason why, by the time of the last verse, she no longer lives with the narrator and their son. In the most popular versions of the song, however, the story is fragmented.

The song has some of the elements of the common rake archetype that is repeated throughout many English and Irish folk songs, in which a young man (often a soldier) comes to a young maid in the middle of the night, leaving her “in the family way”, and, in fact, leaving her for good. A significantly different version of the same song treats the encounter as a successful seduction by the young man of the maid, and does not mention the son. This dates from a broadside of 1689: "A fright'ned Yorkshire damosel, or Fears dispers'd by pleasure" set to the tune of, 'I met with a country lass', &c. [...] . A modern version was sung by The Spinners. [] Various explanations have been put forward for the thing frightening the maid: "foggy, foggy dew" as a symbol of chastity, it really meaning bugaboo (an explanation favoured by Ewan MacColl, who recorded this song), or Robert Graves proposed that it might be a transliteration of an Irish word for Black Death. []

Popular conceptions of the meaning of this song are that the gentleman bachelor talked his servant, a fair young maid, into staying overnight rather than walk home in order to protect her from "the foggy, foggy dew." This ultimately resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. After giving birth, the woman either died or went away. The gentleman raised his illegitimate son on his own and did not marry, since he is still a bachelor at the end of the song.

Irish Lament

This tune and the lyrics are from the second edition of The Home and Community Songbook (1931).

"Oh, a wan cloud was drawn o'er the dim weeping dawn" "As to Shannon's side I return'd at last," "And the heart in my breast for the girl I lov'd best" "Was beating, ah, beating, how loud and fast!" "While the doubts and the fears of the long aching years" "Seem'd mingling their voices with the moaning flood:" "Till full in my path, like a wild water wraith," "My true love's shadow lamenting stood."

"But the sudden sun kiss'd the cold, cruel mist" "Into dancing show'rs of diamond dew," "And the dark flowing stream laugh'd back to his beam," "And the lark soared aloft in the blue;" "While no phantom of night but a form of delight" "Ran with arms outspread to her darling boy," "And the girl I love best on my wild throbbing breast" "Hid her thousand treasures with cry of joy."

Easter Rising

Another song called “Foggy Dew” has been attributed to Peadar Kearney- who also wrote “Amhrán na bhFiann” (“Soldier's Song”), the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland- and to Canon Charles O’Neill, with no side providing better sources to actual authorship than the other. This song chronicles the Easter Uprising of 1916, and encourages Irishmen to fight for the cause of Ireland, rather than for the British, as so many young men were doing in World War I.

"As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I" "There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by" "No pipe did hum nor battle drum did sound its loud tattoo" "But the Angelus Bell o'er the Liffey's swell rang out through the foggy dew"

"Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war" "'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar" "And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through" "While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew"

"'Twas England bade our wild geese go, that "small nations might be free";" "Their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves or the fringe of the great North Sea." "Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha*" "Their graves we'd keep where the Fenians sleep**, 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew."

"Oh the night fell black, and the rifles' crack made perfidious Albion reel" "In the leaden rain, seven tongues of flame did shine o'er the lines of steel" "By each shining blade a prayer was said, that to Ireland her sons be true" "But when morning broke, still the war flag shook out its folds in the foggy dew"

"Oh the bravest fell, and the Requiem bell rang mournfully and clear" "For those who died that Eastertide in the spring time of the year" "And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few," "Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew"

"As back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore" "For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more" "But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you," "For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew".

*One version mentions "Valera true" , another leader in 1916 and later Taoiseach of Ireland. **A possible reference to the Glasnevin Cemetery where many of the famous Irish nationalists are buried.

The song (also sometimes known as “Down the Glen”) has been performed and recorded by most well-known Irish folk groups, including The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Dubliners, The Chieftains with Sinéad O'Connor, Shane MacGowan, and the Wolfe Tones. The song is also played before every set by the Dropkick Murphys and an Irish rock band known as the Young Dubliners have also done a cover. Sinéad O'Connor provided the vocals for a mournful version of the song on the Chieftains' 1995 collaboration album "The Long Black Veil".It was also performed by the Italian Epic Metal band Wotan in their second studio album Epos.

Foggy Dew is one of several songs popular in the Republic of Ireland that originate from World War I. Others include Green Fields of France (original title No Man's Land), The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (both written by the Scots-Australian Eric Bogle), and a 20th century adaptation of Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye that replaces the traditional mention of "the island of Sulloon" with "the island of Ceylon."

Another famous version of Foggy Dew has been recorded in Alan Stivell best-seller "Olympia" live album (1972), and his 1993 "Again" album (including Shane MacGowan's backing vocals).

The song "Livin' in America" by the Celtic rock band Black 47 is played and sung to the tune of the Foggy Dew.

The Chieftains and Sinéad O'Connor version of "The Foggy Dew" was voted "Best Duet" by BBC 6 Music, largely due to an organized effort by fans.

Serbian bands Orthodox Celts and Tir na n'Og have their versions of the song.



External links

* Lyrics guitar chords and video of The Foggy Dew.

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