Verse 1: 'Across the vast Soudan was borne, / While England bowed her head, / The words which thrilled each British heart, / "Our mighty hero s dead." / With bated breath we heard that praise, / Which buries hope - "too late!" / For honour! General Gordon lived - / For honour met his fate.' Given the subject matter of this ballad, it is likely that the sheet was published around 1885.
This ballad is an elegy dedicated to the memory of General Charles Gordon (1833-85), who was killed by the Mahdi's troops during the siege at Khartoum, in the Sudan, Africa. The song of mourning repeatedly emphasises the sad fact that if only the relief force had arrived slightly sooner, then Gordon's life would have been saved. The author ends his elegy on a note of political intrigue, by mentioning that there are people who shamelessly abandoned Gordon in his hour of need.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse
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Probable date published:
1885 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(100b)
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