Noo I'm a Young Man Cut Down in My Prime
As I was a-walking one bright summer morning,
As I was a-walking one bright summer day,
Its who did I spy but one of my comrades,
Rolled up in white flannel and cauler than clay.
O love, it is cruel, cruel to deceive me,
Why didn't you tell me your sorrows in time?
My head is an-aching, my heart is a-breaking,
Noo, I'm a young man cut down in my prime.
Its I have an aged father, likewise a mother,
Oft times they did tell me it would ruin me quick,
I never did believe them, I always did deceive them,
And still with the city girls I spent all my time.
Go send for my mother to wash and to dress me,
Go send for my sister to comb my black hair;
Go send for my brother to play the pipes slowly,
And play the dead march as they carry me along.
There's a bunch of roses to lay on my coffin,
There's a bunch of roses for my head and my feet,
There's a bunch of roses to lay in the churchyard,
To perfume the way as they carry me along.
At the gate of the churchyard two girlies were standing,
The one to the other in a whisper did say:
"Here comes the young man whose money we have squandered,
And noo they have laid him down in his cauld grave.
Recorded by Willie Mathieson
When the "Rake" crossed the border to Scotland, his sad tale underwent few
changes. There is little, if any, suggestion of a military funeral (the
pipes reference in a Scottish context could well mean the bagpipes, used
at both civilian and military affairs). The young man's death is still
obviously due to his association with members of the fairer sex.
Willie Mathieson, who recorded this version in 1952 at the age of 72,
spent almost his entire life working as a farm servant in the Northeastern
Scottish counties of Aberdeen and Banff. Upon his death in 1958,
Mathieson's legacy to folklore included not only his own extensive oral
repertoire of folksong but a manuscript collection of 545 songs written
down in 3 huge ledgers as he heard them through the years, beginning as a
schoolboy and continuing in the bothies, chaulmers and farm kitchens where
he feed as a farm servant. He first heard this version of the Unfortunate
Rake from John Inner, farm servant and 'second horseman' at the farm of
'Boghead', Dunlugas, Banffshire, in the winter of 1933.