MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Jimmy Whalen
Performed by Mary Dunphy Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 2 Track 7
Community: Tors Cove Audio:
Genre: Ballad / lover's ghost returns  


Lonely I strolled by the banks of a river
Watching the sunbeams as evening drew nigh
As onward I rambled I spied a fair damsel
She's weeping and wailing with many a cry

She is weeping for one who is now lying lonely
Weeping for one that no mortal can save
The dark mourning waters around her encircles
Where the grass now grows green over young Jimmy's grave

"Jimmy," she cried, "Won't you come to me, darling
Come to me here from your cold silent tomb
You promised to meet me this evening my darling
Ere the cruel angel had stole your sad doom

You promised we'd meet by the banks of the river
You'd give me sweet kisses like often before
You'd fold me again in your strong loving arms
Now come to me Jimmy dear, come as of yore

Lowly arose from the banks of the river
A vision of beauty more bright than the sun
With his bright robes of crimson around him a-flowing
And unto this maiden to speak he begun

"Now why did you call me from my realms of glory
Back to this earth that I soon got to leave
To hold you once more in my strong loving arms
To see you once more love I came from my grave

One more embrace love and then I must leave you
One more fond kiss love and then we must part."
Cold were the arms that did her encirlcle
And cold was the bosom she pressed to her heart

"Adieu," then he said and he vanished before her
Back to his earth home his form seemed to go
And leaving this maiden poor alone and distracted
A weeping and wailing in sorrow and woe

Throwing herself on the ground she wept sorely
With wild words of sorrow this maiden did rail
Saying, "Jimmy my darling, my lost Jimmy Whalen,
I've sighed 'til I died by the side of your grave!"


Sources: Laws C8; Mercer 139, Peacock 385; Lehr 107; Ives (1989) 39; Taft 65; Manny 25; Fowke 1970: #32; Creighton-Senior, 186. Roud 2220. Recorded by Kenneth Peacock (Folkways FG3505);   Recorded by Tommy Nemec on Tommy Nemec. Songs from the Cape (BackCove, 2003).

History: A different song recounts the story of Jimmy Whalen or Phalen, a lumberman who was killed on the Ottawa River in the 1870s . The author has not been traced. Ives (1989: 39) surmises that it was brought east by Maine lumbermen and he notes it is not widely known in Maritime Canada. There are a number of Newfoundland variants, however.

Text notes: Whalen's girlfriend begs for his return. His ghost obliges for one last embrace before they are parted forever.

Tune notes: There are an abundance of tunes for this ballad in Newfoundland. Peacock collected four of them but this one is a distinctive fifth, characterized by a descending first phrase, unlike any of the others. While Peacock claims all the tunes are dorian, this one becomes mixolydian as the lines are repeated.


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