Mary Anning of Lyme

by Kevin Adams

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1.
01:28
2.
01:13
3.
Seashells, Snakestones Seashells, snake-stones, Devil’s toenails, thunderbolts Curioes for gentlefolk To take home from their tour. This here’s a snakestone Ammonite they calls it Curled up like a serpent You must treat him well Come in all the sizes The bigger ones we prizes Fetch a pretty penny when we sell Fetch a pretty penny when we sell Chorus When the devil trims his toenails This is where we find them This way and that way Strewn along the shore Gnarly and scrawny Scaly and horny The devil sweeps ‘em out the gates of Hell Fetch a pretty penny when we sell Chorus Be wary of cliff falls Watch where your feet land The hidden pits and ledges Must be learned Always on an ebbtide When you search the seaside The sea can catch you when your back is turned The sea can catch you when your back is turned Chorus Seashells, snake-stones, Devil’s toenails, thunderbolts Curioes for gentlefolk To take home from their tour. Curioes for us to sell From our old cottage door; Curioes for gentlefolk To take home from their tour.
4.
Waiting for Sunlight In the tropical sun Of a younger green planet In a warm shallow sea Of silver and blue The sparkling water Is seething and sighing Round columns of coral Teeming with life Seeding, dividing Feeding voraciously One on the other They are predators all The luncheons of life (Eons of life) For many millennia And now on the edge Of a cold northern ocean An aftermath hides In stratified rock Trapped in hard layers One on the other Compressed and calciferous Fossilised, stone. Then drilled out of darkness By the storms of the winter Stone washed and polished By the high spring tide waves They’ve waited for sunlight And now it has found them. Waiting for sunlight to find them again Waiting for sunlight.
5.
Bishop Ussher's Madrigal Did you ever wonder when the world began? With a hey, ho, fiddle dum dee Then tip your hat to a very clever man Sing hey for good James Ussher! Learnèd James was the Bishop of Armagh With a hey, ho, fiddle dum dee When Cromwell’s puritans had won the Civil War Sing hey for good James Ussher! He calculated to the very minute When God created Earth and all that’s in it His work was historical and scholarly It was based on Biblical theology And the Bishop said… It was round six o’clock As near as I can make it October twenty second As close as I can date it In the year four thousand and four (BC) In the year four thousand and four. So for many years this was deemed to be the truth With a hey, ho, fiddle dum dee But there were men of science who demanded better proof Sing hey for the cliffs of Dorset! ‘The rocks and fossils tell us that it can’t be so.’ With a hey, ho, fiddle dum dee ‘And the cliffs of Dorset is the place that you should go’ Sing hey for the cliffs of Dorset! To stand against the Church and all its might Takes a strong, brave soul with the stomach for a fight Empirical geology ‘Gainst blinkered ideology Chorus X 2
6.
The Carpenter’s Daughter She’s lived all her life by the sea and the strand And knowing the cliffs like the palm of her hand The carpenter’s daughter has learned to read stones To unlock their secrets and find the old bones Now scholarly gentlemen visit the town To call on Miss Anning, she has such renown Beating a path to her humble front door And bidding her take them down onto the shore She sells seashells on the seashore So off to the Undercliff, hammers in hand To search the Blue Lias they’re bound The limestone she shows them bears fossils in plenty And Mary explains what they’ve found And Mary explains what they’ve found Freely she gives of the knowledge they covet And rarely receives an acknowledgement of it. How could a gentleman scholar admit That a carpenter’s daughter has helped him one bit? She sells seashells on the seashore I didn’t choose to be born as a maid Nor you to be born as a man When God made me female He gave me this mind These two eyes, these two ears and these hands Now what should I do with these gifts I possess, Shut my eyes, close my ears, drop my hands? The parable says not to squander our talents Am I to ignore this command? Am I to ignore this command? The carpenter’s daughter has learned to read stones To unlock their secrets and find the old bones Now eminent gentlemen visit the town To call upon Mary, she has such renown.
7.
06 The Plesiosaur The morning is dark Near the turning of the year, The storm was raising Cain throughout the night. But the gale has abated And Mary has waited To see what the waves have brought to light. Her hands are red and raw, Her face is chapped and sore, But the cold is not the reason that she shivered Is this the day For which she’s been praying? Maybe the tempest has delivered. Her heart skips a beat - What is this? What is this? An empty eye glares down from the monster in the mudstone. Her heart skips a beat - what is this? What is this, what is this? Not a whale, not a lizard nor a fish. Not a seal, not a serpent, Not a crocodile nor turtle, What is this? Her heart skips a beat - what is this? With an eye on the tide, And faithful Tray sat by her side, She starts to dig the monster from Black Ven. This is not like the others, This wonder of wonders - I’ve found you, I’ll set you free again. Her heart skips a beat, There it is and here is she, Locked eye to eye with a monster in the mudstone Her heart skips a beat- what is this? Her heart skips a beat…
8.
Earth, Air, Fire, Water Earth, Air, Fire and Water Earth, Air, Water and Fire Earth, Air, Fire and Water Earth, Air, Water and Fire Earth, Air, Fire and Water Landslides revealing improbable creatures Earth, Air, Water and Fire Roaring south-westerlies in off the sea Earth, Air, Fire and Water Lightning bolt striking yet sparing the child Earth, Air, Water and Fire Spring tides and neap tides that dance with the Moon Day by day across Lyme Bay The elements will sport and play Four fine friends, or fearsome foes Which they’ll be no-one knows. Earth, Air, Fire and Water Govern the world of the carpenter’s daughter Earth, Air, Water and Fire Unfolding prehistory Shedding light on the mystery Half way between land and sea. Earth, Air, Fire and Water She waits for the landslide to gently enfold her Earth, Air, Water and Fire What has her life been worth? Delving the secret earth She’s been travelling back in time. Now she must say farewell to Lyme.

about

Lyme Regis, Dorset. 1847.

Mary is hovering in a laudanum mist between sleep and waking, between land and sea, between past and present.

She hears her father Richard (long dead) and talks with him. She herself is not long for this world, but at the age of forty-seven she has achieved so much more than most women of her time could have even dreamed of - and she from such a humble background.

Mary Anning – the ‘Mother of Palaeontology’.

credits

released June 21, 2020

Words & music Kevin Adams
All music and vocals by KA
plus
Whistle, recorder, flute: Sheena Masson
Vocals: Terry Brown
Ruth Adams as Mary Anning
A big thank you to Colin White

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Kevin Adams Milton Keynes, UK

Blending traditional folk music with a love of other genres- classical, jazz, folk-rock, prog-rock, pop… music, music, music…

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