Near by the swelling ocean,
One morning in the month of June,
While feather'd warbling songsters
Their charming notes did sweetly tune,
I overheard a lady
Lamenting in sad grief and woe,
And talking with young Bonaparte
Concerning the bonny Bunch of Roses, O.
Thus spake the young Napoleon,
And grasp'd his mother by the hand:-
"Oh, mother dear have patience,
Till I am able to command;
I'll raise a numerous army,
And through tremendous dangers go,
And in spite of all the universe,
I'll gain the bonny Bunch of Roses, O."
"Oh, son, speak not so venturesome;
For England is the heart of oak;
Of England, Scotland, and Ireland,
The unity can ne'er be broke.
And think you on your father,
In the Island where he now lies low,
He is not yet interred in France;
So beware of the bonny Bunch of Roses, O.
"Your father raised great armies,
And likewise kings did join the throng;
He was so well provided,
Enough to sweep the world along.
But when he went to Moscow,
He was o'erpower'd by drifting snow;
And though Moscow was blazing
He lost the bonny Bunch of Roses, O."
"Oh, mother, adieu for ever,
I am now on my dying bed,
If I had liv'd I'd have been brave
But now I droop my youthful head.
And when our bones do moulder,
And weeping-willows o'er us grow,
Its deeds to bold Napoleon
Will stain the bonny Bunch of Roses, O."
William Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs, vol.II, 1881
From William Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs, vol.II, 1881; pp.232-3.
"This Air was taken by the Editor in 1850 note for note from the singing of a native of Aberdeenshire, who had it from his father, a peninsular veteran. The words are almost the same as he sung. The Ballad is printed in different forms on Broad-sides, and the Air is often heard sung by street Ballad-singers. The Editor has not found, in his researches, a copy of the Air hitherto printed."
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O! (2)