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Pulling Hard Against the Stream
(Roud 1958)
Vincie Boyle
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded November 2003

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Vincie Boyle

‘Tis in this world I gained my knowledge,
And for it I had to pay,
Although I never went to college
I heard a poet say:

Life is but a mighty river,
Flowing on from day to day,
Men are vessels launched upon it,
Sometimes wrecked and cast away.

So do your best for one another,
Making life a pleasant dream,
Help a weary, worn brother
Pulling hard against the stream.

Many the bright young-hearted fellow,
Many the noble minded man,
Finds himself in waters shallow,
Then assist him if you can.

Some succeed at every turning,
And fortune favours every scheme.
With not a friend or not shilling,
Pulling hard against the stream.

So do your best for one another,
Making life a pleasant dream,
Help a weary, worn brother,
Pulling hard against the stream.

And if the wind blows in your favour,
And you’ve weathered every squall.
Think of those whose luckless labour,
Never get fair winds at all.

Working hard contented, willing,
Struggling through life’s ocean ride.
With not a friend or not a shilling,
Pulling hard against the stream.

So do your best for one another,
Making life a pleasant dream,
Help a weary, worn brother,
Pulling hard against the stream.

So don’t give way to foolish sorrows,
Let this keep you in good cheer.
For better days will come tomorrow,
Only try and persevere.

Longest nights will have a morning,
Unless the sky is overcast.
Longest lanes will have a turning,
Then the tide will turn at last.

So do your best for one another,
Making life a pleasant dream,
Help a weary, worn brother
Pulling hard against the stream.

Conversation after song:
Jim Carroll: Where did you have that from again, Vincie, did you say?
Vincie: Oh a neighbour of mine down in Ahey Bridge, Jimmy Bracken, he use to sing that all the time
Jim: How long ago?
Vincie: Oh I’m talking since I was a child, I’m talking forty years since I heard him at it.

“The sentiments of this homiletic song advising how on how to cope with the rigours of life, are echoed in other compositions such as ‘Paddle your own Canoe’ (Roud 6098), and the once popular ‘Help One Another Boys’ (Roud 12900). It was first published in ‘The Boss of the Ring Songster’ (N.Y. 1869) and appeared later in Wehman’s ‘Good Old Time Songs, No 2’ (N.Y. 1910), so it may well have been introduced into the Irish repertoire via emigration. Previously it had been circulated on broadsides throughout England and Scotland. It reached Canada via the song column of ‘The Family Herald and Weekly Star’ (Montreal) and was found there on a number of occasions, the earliest being 1905. In Scotland it was recorded from Lucy Stewart, a Traveller from Fetterangus in Aberdeenshire, and from Border shepherd, Willie Scott.”
Jim Carroll



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