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Broadsheet featuring the ballad 'The Irish Emigrant'

Date: c 1850
Overall: 201 x 90 mm, 0.023 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017366
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring the popular ballad titled 'The Irish Emigrant'. The ballad, written by Helen Selina Blackwood, is a song of mourning by an Irishman for his young wife, called Mary, and their child who died of starvation in Ireland. Although he is emigrating to a new land, he will never forget his wife or Old Ireland.
    SignificanceBroadsides provide us with a snap shot of popular views on maritime Britain and its new colony at New Holland. Rich in subject matter it features sailors,convicts,emigrants to Port Jackson, disasters at sea. Here is not a world of high-art but the rowdy life of the streets of Georgian and Victorian London. Being ephemera, the survival rate is poor.
    HistoryBroadsides were issued by a number of London publishers for selling by hawkers on the street and were a popular form of entertainment in 18th and 19th century England. By their very nature they are extremely fragile and ephemeral ;as a result they are notably scarce in good condition .
    They were also known as 'roadsheet’, 'broadsheet', ‘stall’, ‘vulgar’ or ‘come all ye’ ballads'. In the 19th century many ballads were written about people emigrating. A large number to escape the difficult economic conditions they faced or to try and make their fortunes to bring home.The ballads reflect a deep love of their home place and in many cases the hero - usually male – is pining for a loved one he had to leave behind.

    The "Irish Emigrant" or "The Lament of the Irish Emigrant" was one of Blackwood's most popular and enduring ballads.

    "Lament of the Irish Emigrant"

    I'M sittin' on the stile, Mary,
    Where we sat side by side
    On a bright May mornin' long ago,
    When first you were my bride;
    The corn was springin' fresh and green,
    And the lark sang loud and high—
    And the red was on your lip, Mary,
    And the love-light in your eye.

    The place is little changed, Mary,
    The day is bright as then,
    The lark's loud song is in my ear,
    And the corn is green again;
    But I miss the soft clasp of your hand,
    And your breath warm on my cheek,
    And I still keep listening for the words
    You never more will speak.

    'Tis but a step down yonder lane,
    And the little church stands near,
    The church where we were wed, Mary,
    I see the spire from here.
    But the graveyard lies between, Mary,
    And my step might break your rest—
    For I've laid you, darling! down to sleep,
    With your baby on your breast.

    I'm very lonely now, Mary,
    For the poor make no new friends,
    But, O, they love the better still,
    The few our Father sends!
    And you were all I had, Mary,
    My blessin' and my pride:
    There's nothin' left to care for now,
    Since my poor Mary died.

    Yours was the good, brave heart, Mary,
    That still kept hoping on,
    When the trust in God had left my soul,
    And my arm's young strength was gone
    There was comfort ever on your lip,
    And the kind look on your brow—
    I bless you, Mary, for that same,
    Though you cannot hear me now.

    I thank you for the patient smile
    When your heart was fit to break,
    When the hunger pain was gnawin' there,
    And you hid it, for my sake!
    I bless you for the pleasant word,
    When your heart was sad and sore—
    O, I'm thankful you are gone, Mary,
    Where grief can't reach you more!

    I'm biddin' you a long farewell,
    My Mary kind and true!
    But I'll not forget you, darling!
    In the land I'm goin' to;

    They say there's bread and work for all,
    And the sun shines always there—
    But I'll not forget old Ireland,
    Were it fifty times as fair!

    And often in those grand old woods
    I'll sit, and shut my eyes,
    And my heart will travel back again
    To the place where Mary lies;
    And I'll think I see the little stile
    Where we sat side by side:
    And the springin' corn, and the bright May morn,
    When first you were my bride.

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