MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
My Mantle of Green
Ned Martin NFLD 1 Tape 8A Track 7
Cape Broyle Audio:
Ballad / lover returns Laws N38

As I roved the town one evening in June,
To view [sing] the fields and the meadows so green,
I espied a young damsel she appeared like a queen,
With her costly fine robes and her mantle so green.

I stood in amaze I was struck with surprise,
I thought her an angel that fell from the skies,
Her eyes like the diamonds her cheeks like a rose,
She is one of the fairest that nature composed.

Says I, "Pretty fair maid if you'll come with me,
We'll both join in wedlock and married we'll be,
I will dress you in rich attire and you'll look like a queen,
With your costly fine robes and you're mantle so green."

She answered me, "Young man you must be refused,
For I'll wed no man you must me excuse,
To the green woods I'll was there for to shun all men's hue,
Since the lad that I love lies in Waterloo."

"Since you will not marry tell me your love's name,
I have been in battle I might know the same."
"Draw near to my garment and there you will see,
His name is embroidered on my mantle so green."

On the raising of her mantle it's there I behold,
His name and his surname in letters of gold,
Young William Reilly appeared in my view,
"He was my trench comrade at Waterloo."

"We fought so victorious where bullets did fly,
And in the field of your true love does lie,
We fought for three days till the fourth afternoon,
He received his death summons on the eighteenth of June."

"As he was a dying I heard his last cry,
'Were you here lovely Nancy contented I'd die'
Now peace is proclaimed and the truce I'll declare
Here is your love's token the gold ring I wear."

She stood in amazement the paler she grew,
She flew from my arms with a heart full of woe,
To the greenwoods I'll wander for the lass that I love,
Rise up lovely Nancy your grief I'll remove.

Oh Nancy lovely Nancy it was I won your heart,
In your father's garden that day we did part,
In your father's garden within a green shady tree,
Where I rolled you in my arms in your mantle so green.

This couple have got married I heard people say.
They had nobles to attend them on their wedding day.
Now peace is proclaimed and the wars are all o'er.
You're welcome to my arms lovely Nancy once more.


Sources: Mercer 154 ("The Mantle So Green"); Leach 312; Laws N38; Greenleaf 175; Peacock 555;   Mackenzie,182; Creighton   1932, 60, 171;   Fowke 1994: 118 ("The Mantle So Green"); Randolph I: 371; Henry 76;  Roud 714.

History: British broadside relating to the battle of Waterloo in 1815; printed by Such in England (Randolph I: 371);   

Text notes: Mention of Willie Reilly, "famed Waterloo."   The mantle embroidered with   the lover's name is a common ballad motif.   The narrative --the singer offers to marry a young woman, but she says she will be faithful to her love only to eventually find that the singer reveals himself as that lost love - is very similar to that of Willie O'Reilly, named in the song, and to other "Riley" songs (e.g., Dennis O'Reilly).

Tune notes:A minor (aeolian) mode melody in triple metre. The abab form has a number of dramatic leaps: an ascending 6 th in the "b" phrases and a 7th between the "a" and "b" phrases.

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