... no place to borne she child ...

Wordspin18

Senior Member
Italian
Hello everyone!

I regularly listen to Harry Belafonte's "Mary's Boy Child" - especially in this part of the year, when days are short and temperatures low.

In the third stance of the song is a phrase of which I do not understand the syntax. I underlined it.

Would anyone be so kind as to explain?
Is borne an archaic form?
It seems almost an Arabic construction (in a relative clause)..

"Now Joseph and his wife Mary
Come to Bethlehem that night
And find no place to borne she child
Not a single room was in sight."

Many thanks in advance!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Now Joseph and his wife Mary / Come to Bethlehem that night /And find no place to borne she child

    Now Joseph and his wife Mary / Arrive at Bethlehem that night /And find no place to give birth to her child
     

    Wordspin18

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I do not quite understand. Is the text in red meant as explanation or as alternative lyrics?
    .. to give birth to her child is less fluid, sings a little less easily and is not so suave to listen to.
     
    Last edited:

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Sounds Jamaican to me. Not standard English, in any case.
    Wikipedia says --

    "Mary's Boy Child" is a 1956 Christmas song, written by Jester Hairston.[1] It is widely performed as a Christmas carol.
    The song had its genesis when Hairston was sharing a room with a friend. The friend asked him to write a song for a birthday party.[2] Hairston wrote the song with a calypso rhythm because the people at the party would be mainly West Indians."

    -- so it's hardly surprising that it sounds Jamaican. In fact, in the YouTube version I listened to, Belafonte sounds as if he's singing with a bit of a Jamaican accent.
    .
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    He did a lot of that. He was called 'The King of Calypso' after all (well, still is because he's still alive).:)

    I remember singing 'The Banana Boat Song' when I was a child:

    Day-o, day-o
    Daylight come and me wan' go home
    Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
    Me say day, me say day-o.
     

    Wordspin18

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Did you find that spelling on a lyrics site somewhere?

    We usually use "born" (no e) in the context of birth and babies, while "borne" goes with burdens and suffering.
    .
    Yes, the two sites I read are AZ Lyrics and MetroLyrics.
     

    Wordspin18

    Senior Member
    Italian
    He did a lot of that. He was called 'The King of Calypso' after all (well, still is because he's still alive).:)

    I remember singing 'The Banana Boat Song' when I was a child:

    Day-o, day-o
    Daylight come and me wan' go home
    Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
    Me say day, me say day-o.
    Me say day-o: what does it mean?

    I "discovered" the Banana Boat Song only recently, unlike the Calypso Christmas song. Until today I did not know that (also) the latter is a Harry Belafone "original".
     
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