MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Old Grey Mare
Mike Kent NFLD 1 Tape 8A Track 9
Cape Broyle Audio:
Ballad / Greedy lover

Young Johnny the miller has courted of late,
A farmer's fair daughter called beautiful Kate,
Silk ribbons and laces and beautiful gowns,
With all such apparel of many fine things.

Her glittering money and beauty likewise,
Stuck into his fancy and dazzled his eyes,
Then he was avowed to tell her his mind,
Desiring that she might prove loving and kind.

For no other woman could e'er be his wife,
For she was his jewel and joy and delight,
The day was appointed the money was told,
It was a fine present of silver and gold.

Young Johnny unto her father done say,
"I never will marry your beautiful maid,
Although she is beautiful charming and fair,
Without the addition of Ted the grey mare."

Her father then answering young Johnny with speed,
"I thought you've been courting my daughter indeed,
And not the grey mare but since it is thus,
My money once more I'Il put in my purse."

"For she is my daughter I'll vow and declare,
You won't get my daughter nor Ted the grey mare."
Young Johnny began his lot for to tear,
Wishing he never stood up for a mare."

In about a year after or a little above,
He chanced for to meet sweet Katie his love,
He says, "My dear creature oh don't you know me?"
"If I'm not mistaken I've seen you," said she

"Or some gentle fellow with fine yellow hair,
Who once came a courting my father's grey mare,"

"It was not the grey mare a-courting I came,
Twas only you lovely Katie by name,
Not thinking your father would make a dispute,
In dealing with Katie the grey mare for boot."

"Rather than lose such a beautiful friend,
But now I am sorry for what I have done."
"Your sorrow," says Kate, "I value it not,
There are lots of young men in this world to be got."

"Surely a woman must be on her last prayer,
To marry a man who had courted a mare,
Now as for the price I think it's not great,
So fare you well Johnny, go look for your fate."


Sources: Laws P8 ("The Grey Mare");   Mercer 172 ("Rogers the Miller")' Peacock 278 ("The Gray Mare" or "Roger the Miller"); Ives 1989: 53 ; Creighton; Greenleaf 1968: 59. Henry 90; Roud 680.

History: A broadside printed in Boston in the early 19 th century may be the earliest source.

Text notes: Johnny wishes to marry Kate, but asks her father for, not only the hand of the daughter, but also the grey mare. The father refuses.

Tune notes: A mixolydian mode tune in triple metre. The "c" phrase of the abcd form is the highest point of the melody. Leach also collected this song from May Whalen, also of Cape Broyle (as "The Grey Mare"). The two tunes and stanzaic structures are very different.

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