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Farewell to Gay Llangyfelach

Early Recording Machine.
Early Recording Machine.

Farewell to gay Llangyfelach
And all the young girls;
I'm going to see which is better,
The faraway lands or my own country

Onwards I marched
Until I came to Cowbridge town,
And there they were, all full of fun,
Enlisting men to the Duke of York

I turned my head and went into a house
Where silver and gold were flowing free,
The drums and fifes carried the tune –
And I enlisted in the Light Dragoons.

After I'd marched up to London,
We were pressed to a hard duty,
To handle the gun and the naked sword,
The lead bullets and the hot [gun] powder

A despatch came very early in the morning,
Another came that afternoon:
That the English fleet was sailing out
Over the blue ocean to do battle.

Farewell my father and my dear mother,
Who have nurtured me and brought me up
Most tenderly in a pure home,
And a hundred farewells to the pretty girls

If some should ask who made this song,
Tell them it was a pretty young girl
Who is praying, night and day,
For her darling sweetheart to be set free.

After I'd waited a long time
He was freed, I'm telling the truth;
He returned to his native home,
I was able to plant a kiss on his lips

He brought a great store ofmoney with him
From the far countries across the sea,
And the first thing he did, out of love [for me]
Was to search for his dear girl.

A priest was quickly sent for
To bind we two as one;
We'll live in plenty all our lives,
And I'll sleep in his arms each night.

Take counsel, merry girls,
If your love should go across the sea:
Not to wander in some foolish caprice
But to be true till he returns.

I had the chance, many a time,
To take a sweetheart, six or seven,
But believe you me, it was much better
To remember my boy in the faraway lands.

He took my heart away with him,
But gave his own in its place
It was love’s sweet law of attraction
That made our dear hearts as one.


Farewell to Gay Llangyfelach

SFNHM Tape 458. Collected (stanzas 1–6 only) 25.1.62 from Bertie Stephens (hound breeder, etc., b. 1900), Llangeitho, Cardiganshire.


On this occasion the singer sang Stanzas 1–6 only, which comprise the logical selection for a male singer, but he recorded nine stanzas for the Museum four years later. In the present publication the text in full is derived from the volume Caneuon Serch, Hen a Diweddar (Love Songs, Old and Recent). The ballad is supposedly delivered by a woman who was formerly the sweetheart of a Welsh soldier. Stanzas 1–6 give the contents of a farewell letter from the soldier, who is newly enlisted in the Light Dragoons and about to sail overseas with the English fleet. The remaining stanzas tell of the sweetheart's patient wait, the soldier's eventual return, and their ensuing marriage. For some generations this ballad, or perhaps just the first half of it, was highly popular all over Wales. (North Wales had a text variant of its own, substituting 'Caernarfon' for 'Llangyfelach' – the latter is actually near Swansea, in Glamorgan.) Stanzas 1–7 (or 8) are known to have appeared on nineteenth–century 'ballad' leaflets. The author was James Turberville (?18-19th century) of Glamorgan – quite possibly this was the versifier described in T. C. Evans's History of Llangynwyd (1887) as an itinerant weaver who lived for a considerable period in the parish of Llangynwyd (i.e., in the Maesteg area, east of Port Talbot).

Cf. the tune and that of 'Lisa Lan' – see, for example, JWFSS, i; 37-8.


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