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For It Being on Christmas Morning

RC deWinter

Fairfield, United States

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Artist's Description

*© 2010 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved

The pale, silvery sun rises behind a lattice of bare maple tree branches on Christmas morning, 2010.

The title is taken from an old Irish ballad, ‘Arthur McBride’, versions of which date back to the late 18th century, although the following interpretation (see below) likely dates to the Napoleonic Wars of the English Regency.

Digital oils with a handmade paper texture; from an original photograph shot in Fairfield, Connecticut.*

Tech specs: Photoshop, Filter Forge,
Filters Unlimited, DAP

Paul Brady performs ‘Arthur McBride’, considered by many to be the definitive version:

*Arthur McBride
(Traditional, arranged and adapted Paul Brady)

Oh, me and me cousin, one Arthur McBride,
As we went a-walkin’ down by the seaside,
Mark now what followed and what did betide,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’.

Now, for recreation, we went on a tramp,
And we met Sergeant Napper and Corporal Vamp
And a little wee drummer intending to camp,
For the day bein’ pleasant and charmin’.

“Good morning, good morning,” the Sergeant did cry.
“And the same to you, gentlemen,” we did reply,
Intending no harm but meant to pass by,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’.

“But,” says he, "my fine fellows, if you will enlist,
It’s ten guineas in gold I’ll slip in your fist,
And a crown in the bargain for to kick up the dust,
And drink the king’s health in the morning.

For a soldier, he leads a very fine life,
And he always is blessed with a charming young wife,
And he pays all his debts without sorrow or strife,
And he always lives pleasant and charmin’.

And a soldier, he always is decent and clean,
In the finest of clothing he’s constantly seen.
While other poor fellows go dirty and mean,
And sup on thin gruel in the morning."

“But,” says Arthur, "I wouldn’t be proud of your clothes,
For you’ve only the lend of them, as I suppose,
And you dare not change them one night, for you know
If you do, you’ll be flogged in the morning,

And although that we are single and free,
We take great delight in our own company,
And we have no desire strange places to see,
Although that your offers are charming.

And we have no desire to take your advance,
All hazards and dangers we barter on chance,
For you would have no scruples for to send us to France,
Where we would get shot without warning."

“Oh no,” says the Sergeant. “I’ll have no such chat,
And I neither will take it from spalpeen or brats,
For if you insult me with one other word,
I’ll cut off your heads in the morning.”

And then Arthur and I, we soon drew our hogs,
And we scarce gave them time for to draw their own blades
When a trusty shillelagh came over their heads
And bid them take that as fair warning.

And their old rusty rapiers that hung by their side,
We flung them as far as we could in the tide,
“Now take them up, devils!” cried Arthur McBride,
“And temper their edge in the mornin’!”

And the little wee drummer, we flattened his pou(ch),
And we made a football of his rowdy-dow-dow,
Threw it in the tide for to rock and to roll,
And bade it a tedious returning.

And we havin’ no money, paid them off in cracks.
And we paid no respect to their two bloody backs,
For we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks,
And left them for dead in the morning.

And so, to conclude and to finish disputes,
We obligingly asked if they wanted recruits,
For we were the lads who would give them hard clouts
And bid them look sharp in the mornin’.

Oh, me and me cousin, one Arthur McBride,
As we went a-walkin’ down by the seaside,
Now mark what followed and what did betide,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’.

Note: Spalpeen is an Irish word originally meaning ‘laborer’, but over time became synonymous with ‘rascal’.

Artwork Comments

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