Australian Folk Songs

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Songs of The People -- Banks of Claudie (1895)

(In response to numerous requests we republish the text of the once popular old Irish street ballad.)

As I roved out one evening in the month of May,
Down by a flowery garden I carelessly did stray,
I overheard a fair maid in sorrow did complain--
All for her absent lover that's ploughing the raging main.

I gently stepped up to her, I put her in surprise ;
I own she did not know me, for I being in disguise.
I said, "My pretty fair maid, my joy and heart's delight,
How far have you to travel this dark and rainy night ?"

"It's to the banks of Claudie, if you'd be pleased to show.
Come, pity a poor distressed fair maid, that knows not where to go ;
I am in search of a faithless young man, and Johnny is his name
And it's on the banks of Claudie I am told he does remain."

"This is the Banks of Claudie, fair maid, whereon you stand ;
Don't depend on Johnny, for he's a false young man ;
Don't depend on Johnny, for he won't meet you here,
But come with me to yon green wood, no danger need you fear."

"If my Johnny was here this night he'd save me from all harm.
He's in the fields of battle, all in his uniform ;
He's in the fields of battle, and his foes he does defy,
Like the far-famed prince of honour going to the wars of Troy."

"It's six long months and better since Johnny left the shore ;
He was crossing the main ocean, where stormy billows roar.
He was crossing the main ocean for honour and for fame.
The ship was wrecked, as we are told, going to the coast of Spain."

When Betsy heard this dreadful news she fell in great despair,
With the wringing of her fingers and the tearing of her hair--
Saying, 'If Johnny be gone from me, no other man I'll take;
And through silent groves and valleys I'll wonder for his sake."

And when he saw her loyalty, no longer could he stand.
He flew into her arms, saying--"Betsy, I'm the man."
Saying--"Betsy, I'm the young man--the cause of all your pain ;
And since me met on Claudie's Banks, we'll never part again."


From the NSW Newspaper the Freeman's Journal 13 Apr 1895 p. 21.

The Creswick Ballad Singer Simon McDonald sings a version of this song as does Sally Sloan.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory