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Caledonia

[ Roud 5543 ; G/D 2:227 ; Henry H162 ; Ballad Index HHH162 ; trad.]

Caledonia is a Scottish song with a plot very similar to Canadee-I-O, with the girl following her love abroad, and the myth of the shipboard Jonah. This is not Dougie MacLean's song.

Tony Cuffe sang Caledonia to his own tune in 1998 on his solo album When First I Went to Caledonia.

Susan McKeown sang Caledonia in 2004 on her album Sweet Liberty. She commented in her liner notes:

In the summer of 1999 I taught a couple of Irish song classes at the Swannanoa Gathering near Asheville, North Carolina. I shared a quiet wooden house among trees with Paddy O'Brien and Tony Cuffe. Each afternoon Tony would be playing in his room, carefully preparing a store of songs for his classes the next day. We traded CDs at the end of the weak and on his I was delighted to find this wonderful song telling of a woman's adventure on the high seas, with a happy ending. These lyrics from John Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads were set to music by Tony, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 47.

Emily Smith recorded Caledonia with Tony Cuffe's tune in 2008 for her album Too Long Away. This video shows her singing Caledonia at Shrewsbury Folk Festival on August 29, 2009:

Lyrics

Caledonia in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection Emily Smith sings Caledonia

Twa Scottish women sat down to sigh and mourn,
By cam' a troop o' their ain countrymen,
Says, “Rise ye up, my bonnie lass, mak' haste and come awa'
There's a vessel lying and bound for Caledonia.”

A sailor and his true love lay doon tae mak their moan
When in by came ain o their countrymen,
Sayin, “Rise up my bonny lassie, mak haste and come awa.
There's a vessel lying bound for Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the sailor, “are ye willing for to pay,
Five hundred guineas before on board ye go,
But ye must pay them plack and farthin' before on board ye go,
And we'll take ye to yer bonnie Caledonia.”

“Oh,” said the sailor, “are ye willing for tae pay
Five hundred guineas afore on board ye gay?”
“I'll pay them plack and farthing afore on board I go
If ye'll tak me tae my bonny Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the lassie, “I'm willing for to pay,
Five hundred guineas before on board I go,
I'll pay them plack and farthin' before on board I go,
If ye take me to my pretty Caledonia.”

“Oh”, said the sailor, “her money we will take,
And when she's on seas we'll throw her over deck,
Or We'll sell her for a slave lang or she win there awa,
And she'll never see her pretty Caledonia.”

“Oh,” said the sailor, “her money we will tak
And when we're on the sea we'll throw her over deck
Or sell her for a slave lang ere she win awa,
And she'll never see her bonny Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the captain, “that would never do,
There are no slaves sold intil our country noo,
They wad kill us every man, they wad hang us ane and a'
If we offered a slave for sale in Caledonia.”

“Well,” said the captain, “well that'll never do!
For there are nae slaves sold intae oor country noo.
They'd hang us ane and a, they would hang us every man
If we sold her for a slave to Caledonia.”

They've sailed east and they've sailed west,
And they've sailed past many a seaport town,
The seas they did beat and the winds they did blaw,
And it's caused them a' to weep for Caledonia.

One night as the captain he lay upon his bed,
He dreamed a dream that something to him said-,
“Tak' care o' yon bonnie lass that ye brocht awa
For she's caused ye a' to weep for Caledonia.”

The captain away to the sailor he's gone,
Says, “Where is yon bonnie lass that ye brought far fae home?
Where is yon bonnie lass that ye brought far awa?
For she's caused us a' to weep for Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the sailor, “she's lying very low,
She lies bound hand and foot, ready over deck to throw,
She lies bound hand and foot, ready over deck to throw,
And she'll never see her pretty Caledonia.”

“Well,” said the sailor, “she's lying doon below,
She's bound hand and foot, ready overboard to throw.
She's bound hand and foot, ready overboard to throw
And she'll never see her bonny Caledonia.”

Oh, the captain away to this fair maid is gone,
Says, “What is the reason that ye lie here so long?
For what is the reason that ye lie here awa?
For ye've paid your passage dear for Caledonia.”

So the captain away tae the fair maid he has gane,
Says, “What is the reason that ye're lying here sae lang?
An' what is the reason that ye're lying here at all?
For you've paid your passage dear tae Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the lassie, “ah wae's me,
'It ever I wis born sic hardships for to see,
But he'll hae got a sweetheart he likes better far than me,
And it causes me to weep for Caledonia.”

“Oh,” said the lassie, “oh woe is me
That ever I was born sic hardships for tae see.
For the sailors got a lassie he likes better far than me,
And it causes me to weep for Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the captain, “if a promise ye will make,
That when we go to land then upon me you will wait,
If I wad spare your life and let naebody know,
Ye'll maybe see your pretty Caledonia.”

“Oh”, says the lassie, “a promise I will make,
That when we go to land then upon you I will wait,
If ye will spare my life and let naebody know,
And we'll maybe see oor pretty Caledonia.”

The captain away to the sailor he's gone
He's ta'en him by the neck and 'im overdeck he's thrown
Says, “Tak' this cup of caul watter, though the liquor be but sma'
And drink your lassie's health in Caledonia.”

So the captain away to the sailor he has gane,
He's ta'en him by the neck and him overboard has thrown.
Saying, “Tak this cup o water though the liquor be but sma'
And drink your lassie's health tae Caledonia.”

They've sailed east and they've sailed west,
They've sailed past many a seaport town,
The seas they did beat and the win's they did blaw,
And they've a' safe arrived at Caledonia.

They've sailed east and they've sailed west
Until they reached the land that they a' loved the best,
For the winds they did roar and the seas they did beat
And they've all arrived safe to Caledonia

They hidna been there but three-quarters o' a year,
When in fine silks and satins he's made her for to wear,
When in fine silks and satins he's made her for to go,
And she lives the captain's lady in Caledonia.

Well they hadna been there but three quarters o' a year
When in fine silks and satins he's made her for tae wear.
When in fine silks and satins he's made her for tae go.
Noo she's the captain's wife in Caledonia,
Noo she's the captain's wife in Caledonia.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread DTStudy: Caledonia.