Bonny Bunch of Roses, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Bonny Bunch of Roses, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 855412.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 664.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Robin Hiteshew.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 16/03/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Devon, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): concert.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

There was a time when England, Ireland and Scotland was more or less one. During Napoleon’s period, now, time, you know, the name given to England, Ireland and Scotland was ‘the bonny bunch of roses.’ And this is the story of Napoleon’s son, and the conversation with his mother. And he said he was going to emulate his father, and take an army and conquer Moscow, and then return and get the bonny bunch of roses. But his mother told him, ‘Your father tried the same thing; now he’s dead in St Helena. Anyway, you’re on your deathbed,’ she said, ‘so stay there.’ Here’s what happened:

By the margin of the ocean, one pleasant evening in the month of June
When all the feathered songsters their liquid notes they sweetly tuned
It’s there I met a female, on her features were signs of woe
Conversing with young Bonaparte concerning the bonny bunch of roses-o.

Out speaks the young Napoleon, he takes his mother by the hand
Saying ‘Mother, dear, be patient, until I’m able to take command;
Then I’ll raise a mighty army and through tremendous dangers go,
And ne’er will I return again til I conquer the bonny bunch of roses-o.

‘When first you met great Bonaparte you fell upon your bended knees
You asked your father’s life of him; he granted it right manfully.
Twas then he took an army and o’er the frozen Alps did go;
He said ‘I’ll conquer Moscow, and return for the bonny bunch of roses-o.’

‘He took six hundred thousand men and kings likewise to bear his train;
He was so well provided-for that he could sweep the world for gain.
But when he came to Moscow he was overpowered by sleet and snow
And with Moscow all a-blazing he lost the bonny bunch of roses-o.’

‘Now, Son, be not too venturesome, for England is the heart of oak,
And England, Ireland, Scotland, their unity shall ne’er be broke.
Remember your brave father: in St Helena he lies low.
And if you follow after, beware of the bonny bunch of roses-o.’

‘Now, Mother dear, I bid you adieu; I now lie on my dying bed;
If I’d ‘a lived I’d be more clever; but now I droop my youthful head.
And when my bones lie mouldering, and weeping willows o’er me grow
The name of young Napoleon will enshrine the bonny bunch of roses-o.’


This song appears, to a different air, in Colm O Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads (Dublin, 1939), 32.