All posts by Keith Harris

Racy Tune from the 18th Century – Oh MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 1.27.12 PMRecently, I spoke with archeologist and historian Damian Shiels for the Rogue Historian podcast. We had a great talk – mostly about Irish immigration in the 19th century and about Irish in the American Civil War. Good stuff. But something came up when we were discussing odd things one might find in the archives. Damian mentioned a previously unpublished song that was loaded with – shall we say – bawdy lyrics.

I asked to publish the song here…how could I resist. Read if you will…and try not to blush…just watch out for the Shilealy.

‘A New Song’

Murtagh O’Blany & Jenny O’Donely

Both went together to thresh in the barn

He laid her down and her so bonnily

Arra says he but I’ll do you no harm

O but says Jenny I fear you’ll be In me

And what if I am I’ll do you no harm

O Murtagh be easy I faint

Be quiet my Jewel my door

For by St. Patrick our Saint

I’ll give you no reason to fear

Then with a look so engaging and gently

He to her bosom his hand did apply

Both her snowy mountains he tousled so daintily

That with her passion caused many a sigh

O But says Jenny I fear you’ll be in me

By Jesus says he if I don’t I shall die

O’ Murtagh be easy I pray

Do prithy be gone from my sight

By Jesus my virtue’l give way

I’m lost in a flood of delight

He then beholding her eyelids thus quivering

Scarcely from pity his heart could refrain

Fearing to anger her he stood a wavering

But was resolved to attack her again

Then Mr. Blaney pulled out his Shilealy

A weapon he ne’er show’d a woman In vain

Staring she lift up her eyes

And gently she rear’d up her head

What is it O Murtagh she cries

That looms so stately and red

Sweet one says Murtagh I’ll show you the use of it

Gently fall backwards your legs open wide

No girl in Munster to big it as you so fitt

It with your hand you’d vouchsafe it to guide

Then Miss O’Donnely strok’d it so bonnily

Arrah says she but I’ll down with your pride

Then closing with eager embrace

They soon reach’d the end of their joy

Jenny now alter’d her gaze

No longer was she squeamish and Coy

With sweet raptures and soft dying murmurings

Lifeless they lay as it was in a trance

Eager he drove but could drive it no further in

Jenny had shiver’d the lance

Oh what’s that says Jenny

Felt so warm in me

That makes all my bowels to prance

‘Tis loves luscious Balsom my dear

Says Murtagh the tulip of life

A cordial that banishes care

Curd cures the worst scold of a wife’

Wow. Original available at

National Library of Ireland MS. 3240: ‘Notebook of an Irish Ensign Gilbert King serving with the British Forces in Canada & Containing Personal Accounts, Copies of letters & two songs, 1761-68.’

 

With compliments,

Keith

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Poem

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-6-28-25-pmI have many talented colleagues – some of whom do much more that one might think…like write poetry.

One such individual shared this with me yesterday…

 

The End

by Jeremy Shine

 

If I had to choose a way to die,

I think I would like to go

In the form of a house-fly,

Who meets his end

By way of the hard-cover

Of a well-read and much liked

History, one whose prose

Could sweep you into

A world long past, and yet

With clear relevance to our own;

Continuity being of the essence.

And the comforting thought

That life goes on, the Future assured.

As it is written:

Just as we are now and those that were are to us,

So we will be then to those to be.

(On the other hand,

Maybe a newspaper would be best.)

 

 

 

 

Cemetery Finds

2-screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-20-58-pmI spend a lot of time in my local cemetery – Hollywood Forever. The cemetery,  among the most interesting in Los Angeles, is the final resting place for all kinds of Hollywood celebrities – from Cecil B. DeMille to Rudolph Valentino to Dee Dee Ramone. But nearly every time I visit, I find the grave of someone who strikes a historical chord – often having some Civil War connection. Just the other day, I encountered this rather dignified looking fellow: one Cornelius Cole. Cole served a single term in the House of Representatives representing the Republican Party from California from 1863 to 1865, and then in the Senate from 1867 to 1873.

After the war he practicscreen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-38-46-pmed law in San Francisco and then Los Angeles where he purchased one of the original Spanish landgrants – he called it Colegrove.

Well…Colegrove is now Hollywood. But at least they named a street after him. So if you are in town and find yourself on Cole Street – you’ll know where it got its name.

With compliments,

Keith

 

Music in the Classroom

When I was an undergrad at UCLA my Civil War professor, Joan Waugh, would open each class with martial music of the day…blaring from every speaker as the students filed into the room and took their seats.  I thought it was a great way to introduce the history – it got us in the mood, so to speak.

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-8-06-12-amAnyway…I have continued that legacy with my own students, and it has become one of the staple features of my Civil War history course. I have had students send me music that they have found on their own and some have brought in different versions of the music they heard in class – we once had an impromptu sing-a-long break out to close the week.

So far – the class favorite has been Eating Goober Peas, a folk song probably originating the southern states  that was popular with Confederate soldiers…I would imagine that some Yankees joined in the chorus from time to time – or at least sampled the southern delicacy.

So – let’s all join in with this remarkable version – a duet featuring Burl Ives and Johnny Cash.

With compliments,

Keith

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Let the Games Begin

1 Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.59.15 AMThe classes are assigned, the lessons prepared, the haircut scheduled….and the students will be in their seats ready for me to drop some serious knowledge in less than two weeks. In the meantime – it’s faculty meetings and getting some tech straightened out.

To my fellow teachers – the fall semester is upon us. So…peace be with you. Have a great year!!

With compliments,

Keith