Leaving Nancy – Eric Bogle

Leaving Nancy

In comes the train and the whole platform shakes
It stops with a shudder and a screaming of brakes
The parting has come and my weary soul aches
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there so calmly determinedly gay
You talk of the weather and events of the day
And your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

My suitcase is lifted and stowed on the train
And a thousand regrets whirl around in my brain
The ache in my heart is a black sea of pain
I’m leaving my Nancy, oh

But you stand there beside me so lovely to see
The grip of your hand is an unspoken plea
You’re not fooling yourself and you’re not fooling me
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

But our time has run out and the whistle has blown
Here I must leave you standing alone
We had so little time and now the time’s gone
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And as the train starts gently to roll
And as I lean out to wave and to call
I see the first tears trickle and fall
Goodbye my Nancy, oh

And come a little closer
Put your head upon my shoulder
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows
And let me hold you one last time
Before the whistle blows

Eric Bogle (1944 –

Eric Bogle left Scotland for Canberra, Australia in 1969. Nancy was his mother and this was the last time he saw her. A very poignant poem (lyrics) the more so for me and anyone who has come to Australia from England and left parents behind; and Eric Bogle captures that moment of departure easily visualised by ‘your eyes tell me all that your tongue doesn’t say’ … it is a moment of such emotional intensity that feelings overwhelm a person negating any attempt at word expression.

There comes a time to leave parents – ‘our time has run out’, just as departure time dictates the leaving of the train. Each stanza has rhyme ‘aaa’ plus the repeat of the lament – ‘Good bye my Nancy, oh’. And the nice rhythm is in line with that of the train as it starts moving, traveling with the same beat of the words of the poem.

The above lyrics are based on his poem of the same name … the poem not having the repetition of the refrain.

There is a very poignant recording of Eric singing this on YouTube.

And details on Eric Bogle on Wikipedia.

Footnote …

There is a difference between metre and rhythm. Meter is the particular formal structure such as iambic pentameter … e.g. – each line = low High (x5) – ‘I love to go a wandering along …’ … whereas rhythm is the beat equivalent to that in music. The underlying beat of a poem is not always stressed by a reader. And a poem may have periodic beat if that is appropriate in the poetic expression of the words.

 

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