Green Linnet, The

DESCRIPTION: "Curiosity bore a young native of Erin To view the gay banks of the Rhine" where he sees a "young empress" looking for her "green linnet." She recounts his exploits and says she will search until she finds him
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1839 (broadside, Bodleian Johnson Ballads 227); c.1830 (Zimmerman-SongsOfIrishRebellion)
KEYWORDS: Napoleon love separation bird
1769 - Birth of Napoleon Bonaparte
1798 - Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. When his fleet is destroyed at the Battle of the Nile, he is forced to abandon the troops there
1809 - Napoleon divorces his first wife Josephine; he marries Maria Louisa of Austria in 1810
1814 - Napoleon exiled to Elba
June 18, 1815 - Battle of Waterloo
1821 - Death of Napoleon on Saint Helena
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf,Ont) Ireland
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Huntington-SongsTheWhalemenSang, pp. 211-214, "The Green Linnet" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 458-460, "The Green Linnet" (1 text, 1 tune)
Vikár/Panagapka-SongsNorthWoodsSungByOJAbbott 45, "The Green Linnet" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor-OldTimeSongsAndBalladOfIreland, pp. 10-11, "The Green Linnet" (1 text)
Zimmerman-SongsOfIrishRebellion 30, "The Green Linnet" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Moylan-TheAgeOfRevolution-1776-1815 201, "The Green Linnet" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin/Cronin-TheSongsOfElizabethCronin 140, "Sweet Boney Will I E'er See You More" (4 texts, 1 tune)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #826, p. 55, "The Green Linnet" (2 references)
Hylands-Mammoth-Hibernian-Songster, pp. 76-77, "The Green Linnet" (1 text)

Roud #1619
O. J. Abbott, "The Green Linnet" (on Abbott1)
Elizabeth Cronin, "Sweet Boney Will I E'er See You More" (on IRECronin01)

Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 227, "Maria Louisa Lamentation. The Green Linnet," J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838; also Harding B 11(2326), Harding B 11(2327)[some illegible words], Harding B 11(3877), "Maria Louisas Lamentation"; Harding B 11(934), "Maria Louisa's Lamentation for the Green Linnet"; Harding B 25(1217)[largely illegible], "Maria Louisa's Lamentation"; Harding B 11(1421), 2806 b.11(72), 2806 c.17(158), 2806 c.18(134), "The Green Linnet" ("Curiosity bore a young native of Erin")
LOCSinging, as104930, "The Green Linnet," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859

cf. "The Royal Eagle" (theme: Napoleon)
NOTES [315 words]: This song is curiously confused. The speaker seems to be Maria Louisa of Austria, Napoleon's second wife (it can hardly be his first wife Josephine; she died before Waterloo) -- but surely she would know her husband's career better than she seems to.
This apart from the fact that theirs was a political marriage, and neither party seems to have had any real affection for the other. (Napoleon died with the name of his first wife Josephine on his lips, and Maria Louisa, once Napoleon was exiled, quickly became involved with other men.)
The green linnet as a symbol for Irish nationalism occurs in "The Green Linnet" (where it may refer to Napoleon, or perhaps his son) and "Erin's Green Linnet" (where Daniel O'Connell seems to be the subject). The reason for this is not obvious, unless it has something to do with the linnet's reputation as a fine singer. - RBW
The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:
Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "The Green Linnet" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001))
Harte on the bird theme here: "The Irish have throughout history attributed the names of animals, and of birds in particular, to their various leaders... During the Jacobite period the Stuart Pretender was known as the 'Royal Blackbird' [a symbol of course shared by the Scots - RBW], Dan O'Connell was known as the 'Kerry Eagle,' and Charles Stewart Parnell was known as the 'Blackbird of Avondale;' so that it would not be strange for an Irish singer to find Napoleon Bonaparte referred to as the 'Royal Eagle,' or as in this song, the 'Green Linnet.'"
Broadside LOCSinging as104930: J. Andrews dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 6.1
File: SWMS211

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.