Monday, September 8, 2008

"rattling" sighting: The Blueberry Ball

Here is use of the word "rattling" that is not included in the definition found in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. It is also a use of the word "rattling" that I was personally unfamiliar with until informed by people that it was a common adjective in Britain. The following song makes me wonder if it was also common on the west coast of Newfoundland. I'd love to hear from anyone from out there or elsewhere in Newfoundland where the term is used in the way it appears below.

The Blueberry Ball

On the tenth of September as you all may remember,
I'll sing you a short line or two;
He stuck to the tiller like a girl loved a feller,
A-pushing the Jubliee through.
We went to Daniel's Harbour, the truth I will tell,
We was there on a rattling good time;
We stayed there three days and we landed our freight,
And I tell you that we drank the wine.

There was old Mrs. Biggins to pour out the wine,
And Sam House to carry it 'round;
Phil Decker was there collecting the money,
Will Keough to pass it around.
We started a dance about half-a-past eight,
And we never knocked off until four;
And many of those girls that danced there that night,
Said they'd never dance there any more.

There was lots of strange faces that night on the floor,
And some I can't never name at all;
Such a rattling racket I never beheld,
As the night at the Blueberry Ball.
We started a scuff about half-a-past two,
And every man stood to his share;
We danced till broad daylight and then went on board,
And the sharemen went out to their gear.

Oh, now to conclude and finish my song,
I hope I haven't said anything astray;
We'll haul up our anchors and reef our shank-painters,
And prepare for a time in the Bay.

Collected in 1958 from Freeman Bennett of St.Paul's, NL, by Ken Peacock, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.43-44, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that this native ditty was composed in Daniel's Harbour just above St. Paul's on Newfoundland's northwest coast. Mr. Bennett was not sure of the composer's name. One of the men mentioned in verse 2, Sam House, was a well-known composer in the area.

From the dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Scuff - a dance held in somebody's house, barn or stage.
Reef our shank-painters - roll up our lines; figuratively: to depart.

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