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Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry
(Roud 1034)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded in singer's home, March 1988

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Tom Lenihan

Farewell to cold winter, the summer has come at last.
Nothing have I gained but my true love I have lost.
I'll sing and I'll be happy like a bird upon a tree,
For since he deceived me, I care no more for he.

Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim.
He doesn't care for me, nor I don't care for him.
He can go and get another, I hope he will enjoy,
For I'm going to marry a far nicer boy.

He wrote to me a letter saying he was very bad,
I sent him back an answer, saying I was awful glad.
He wrote to me another, saying he was well and strong;
But I care no more about him, than the ground he walks upon.

Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim.
He doesn't care for me nor I don't care for him.
He can go and get another, I hope he will enjoy
For I am going to marry a far nicer boy.

Some of his friends they had a very good kind wish for me.
More of his friends they would hang me on a tree.
Ah but soon I'll let them see my love, and soon I'll let them know
That I can get a new sweetheart in any crowd I go.

Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim.
He doesn't care for me nor I don't care for him.
He can go and get another I hope he will enjoy
For I’m going to marry a far nicer boy.

Let him go to his old mother now and set her mind at ease
I hear she is an old, old woman, very hard to please.
Ah ‘tis fighting me and talking ill is what she's always doing,
Because that I was courting, her great big ugly son.

Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim.
He doesn't care for me nor I don't care for him.
He can go and get another I hope he will enjoy
For I am going to marry a far nicer boy.


“It is difficult to judge the age of this song in this particular form or if there is a known composer. The note to a song entitled ‘Farewell He’ that the poet John Clare was seeking in the early 19th century, reads:

‘The text supplied is an Irish version of the song that Clare declared his intention of collecting. His entry reads “Let him sink or let him swim I’ll care no more for him” with the words “Farewell He” written below and to the side. Those versions of the song “Farewell He” that have been collected in England lack the refrain given above though the relationship between them and the Irish version is clear. Whether the English song is a debased variant of an Irish original is difficult to say, but Clare's note clearly indicates that a song with the line “Let him sink” etc. is intended and this line is encountered only in the refrain of the Irish version. Of the four versions collected by Hammond and Gardiner (manuscript collection in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library) a collated text only is published - in “The Constant Lovers” - which omits those verses which come closest to resembling the Irish chorus (see Hammond H457).’

Broadside printings date the English texts somewhere between 1813 and 1838. Gracie Fields is said to have been the first singer to record ‘Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry’ in the 1940s – reference notes merely describe it as ‘an old Irish song’. This is an English traditional version published early in the 20th century:

Farewell He
It is fare-thee-well, cold winter, it is fare-thee-well, cold frost;
There is nothing I have gained, but a lover I have lost.
I will sing and I'll be merry, and I clap my hands with glee
And I rest when I am weary, let him go then - farewell he!

It was last fall that my lover gave to me a diamond ring.
O, I know not what he thought me, but a vain and foolish thing.
If he prove to be unskilful, cannot win my heart from me,
I will prove a maiden wilful, let him go with - farewell he!

If he has another sweetheart, and he tells me so in joke,
Why I care not, be they twenty, he will never me provoke.
Well, and if he likes another, and together they agree,
I can also find a lover, let him go with - farewell he!

Add half a pound of reason, half an ounce of common sense,
Add a sprig of thyme in season, and as much of sage prudence,
Prithee mix them well together, then I think you'll plainly see,
He's no lad for windy weather, let him go with - farewell he!

He may go or he may stay, he may sink or he may swim,
I do think in my own heart I am quite as good as him.
Aye and if he get another girl we both will agree.
I will defy the lad for ever - let him go, farewell he.”
Jim Carroll


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