Verse 1: 'My horse he is white, although at first he was bay, / He took great delight in travelling by night and by day; / His travels were great, if I could the half of them tell, / He was rode in the garden by Adam the day that he fell.' The broadside carries no publication details.
The 'Wonderful Grey Horse' described by this ballad, is a magical horse that has apparently been present at some of the greatest moments of history, from the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, to the Battle of Waterloo. His age and experiences have whitened his hair, which originally was bay, or chestnut-coloured. The final four verses of the ballad, which refer to the Irish nationalists Patrick Sarsfield (c.1650-93) and Daniel O' Connell (1775-1847) as heroes, reveal that it is being narrated by a supporter of the Irish Home Rule Movement, and was probably published in the mid-nineteenth century.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Probable period of publication:
1830-1850 shelfmark: RB.m.169(243)
View larger image