> The Albion Band > Songs > Wolfe


[ Roud - ; Mudcat 120234 ; Ashley Hutchings]

Ashley Hutchings’ song about General Wolfe is very similar in tune and text motifs to Stan Rogers’ song Northwest Passage. Cathy Lesurf sang Wolfe on The Albion Band’s 1983 album Light Shining. Ashley Hutchings commented in the liner notes:

The [initial] spoken verse comes from Thomas Grey’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The poem was one of two gifts from his lady, Kathleen Lowther, prior to his sailing to Canada. She also presented him with a miniature portrait of herself. The song is a lament seen through the eyes of Kathleen Lowther.

Both the poem and the song are also on Ashley Hutchings’ 1991 cassette A Word in Your Ear. A live recording from 1990 was included in in 2005 on Hutchings’ Free Reed anthology Burning Bright.

Bread and Roses sang Wolfe in 1988 on their eponymous Dragon album Bread and Roses. They noted:

By and large, women come off badly in folksong, being usually left behind while their menfolk go off to do daring deeds and frequently die in the process. At least Wolfe’s fiancée, Kathleen Lowther, had the reflected glory to sustain her, not to mention the miniature (which was her parting gift to him) later returned, set in diamonds, by his family. Less fortunate females in The Bantry Girls’ Lament have no choice but to “die in grief and pain” at the loss of their lovers.


The Albion Band sings Wolfe

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
[from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard]

The fleet was a floating forest spread before me on the Thames,
And Greenwich bells saluted all her proud departing sons.
I stood upon the hillside, with my spyglass misted o’er,
And I turned to make my way to home once more.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Oh to cross the line and defy the time forever,
To take the path of happiness and walk away the pain.
If for one last time you could hold these hands together,
Content to scale the heights of home again.

It’s hard to lose your loved one to a nation’s grateful heart,
For now you are her sweetheart and you’re never more to part.
Your virtue she may trade on and your life’s loss she may buy
But she’ll not hold you any more than I.

Last night I dreamed you lay with me, your head upon my breast;
You had no thought of trading me for glory in the west.
The park was then our Eden and the stars our guileless game;
We charted them until the comet came.

This land may want you for a hero she can call her very own,
To glory you in ballads and to honour you in stone.
But I have no need of gratitude and praise and nothing more,
I want my love beside me as before.