Alexander, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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– Oh, it’s don’t you know the reason, love, this night that I am here?
It is in order to obtain the love of you, my dear.

Your sweet celestical charms they have wounded quite my brain,
Your skin’s far whiter than the swan swims o’er yon purling stream.

You are tall, genteel and handsome, you are modest mild and free
And as the lodestone varies you draw the heart from me.

The reason my love slights me is because that I am poor
But I have what’s allowed for me and I can ask no more.

She thinks she’s come of noble birth, me of a mean degree,
– But I am come of Adam’s race, my dear, as well as you.

Don’t place your mind on riches, love, nor no such worldly store
Just think on Alexandra and you’ll love me the more.

When he had conquered the whole world he sat down and wept full sore
Because there were but the one world and he could gain no more.

I will travel to Mount Hareb where Noah’s ark does stand,
From that unto Mount Albareen where Moses viewed the land.

I never will quit roving while I can wear a shoe
But like a wounded lover, my dear, I will mourn for you.

Till his sorrowful lamentation, to her true love she gave ear,
She took him in her arms and embraced him as her dear.

So now they are got married, the truth I will unfold
And her father has bestowed to them five hundred pounds in gold.


This is not readily recognizable as a night visit song, for the lover’s complaint is so rich in imagery and intensely lyrical that it leaves no room for the doors, windows, etc, which are the usual distinguishing marks of the night-visit scene. But another version is largely devoted to a commonplace night-visit dialogue (C). There are few versions and they diverge considerably: the poetic beauty of Eddie’s is especially arresting. The amplitude of mountain scenery was the first stimulus to its retrieval; he began by recalling v. 8 during an outing in Wicklow, and on a fine summer’s day sang the whole song immediately at Glenmalure. From its melody and poetic style, as well as its distribution, it may be surmised Irish; the text suggests a date for the original around 1800 or not much later.