Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

Here's the story: In 19th century England, a young woman, a gypsy and outcast, falls in love with the son of the parish priest. They are forbidden to marry and she dies of a broken heart (i.e. jumps off a cliff, takes poison, or pines away). Very romantic. It seems that Patrick Wolf ran across this story when researching his family background and finding a cross with the name Damaris among his ancestors' graves.

The explanation I've read about the story is a little confusing. I think he means the Anglican Church and not the Catholic Church, since the man was the son of a priest. Catholic priests may have been procreating for centuries, but they didn't usually publicly recognize their children and worry who they married. Also, if she were Catholic and had killed herself or if she were completely outside the faith, she wouldn't have been buried on consecrated ground with the rest of the family. I don't know if Anglicans have consecrated ground. You tell me.

But anyway, who cares. This is such a beautiful song and I think of Heathcliff and Catherine or Tess and what's his name. Different part of England, but it really reminds me of Wuthering Heights - the man crying out for his dead beloved.


  1. Yes, priests in the Church of England, the Episcopal Church (Scotland, USA and a few other places) and the Anglican church, can marry and have children. Each of these would bury the dead in consecrated, I'd assume, Church of England, RC. (Sorry, but the first thing I think of is Cher)...

  2. Songwriters like filmmakers don't always adhere strictly to facts.
    I think it's called artistic license; I failed the test though so I don't have one and have to stick to the truth or the truth police will come and lock me away...

  3. Your analysis makes sense, but also shows me that you notice what I would not! Thanks for the song.

  4. How I wish I could have come across something this romantic when I was researching my family tree. Beautiful song - full of longing.

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  6. I guess if you include the word "tramps" in a post title you inevitably get trashy spam comments.

    Thanks for the info, everyone. Artistic license is fine, but the explanation should try a bit harder, I think. Oh Well.

    Petty, yes, it's so romantic, isn't it? He is an artist of many moods.

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