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Maria Daines: MUSIC


(Maria Daines/Paul Killington)
April 1, 2006


The ballad of Mary Ann Bones was inspired by a story in our local Cambridge Evening News. Mary Ann Bones spoke out against wild animals being kept in the circus when the big top arrived and set up camp near her home in the city of Cambridge, UK (circa early 1900's). The noise of the lions and elephants calling from their cages distressed Mary Ann and she took it upon herself to start a petition calling for parliament to ban animals traveling with the circus.

The news archive link that was online for many years has now been removed but maybe Mary Ann could be considered to be one of the first animal activists to lobby the government for positive change for animals.

I was at first intrigued by Mary Ann's wonderful name but when I saw the old black and white photograph, which featured 15 elephants nose to tail walking through the busy streets of Cambridge, the lyrics tumbled out as a monologue and as I read it in a character voice to Paul he insisted we set it to music.

So this song, written many, many years after Mary Ann's death is interesting for the fact that it has given a voice to what this courageous lady set out to do all those years ago. I've often thought it is like continuing her work from beyond the grave.

To view Peta video 'training and tragedy' click the link below -

Warning: This film footage is disturbing but we must face up to the fact that elephant abuse is commonplace wherever these gentle creatures are used for entertainment purposes.


Do we really wish to see animals forced to perform ridiculous tricks that their minds and bodies were not built for?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Information site here -



'The ballad of Mary Ann Bones'

There were fifteen elephants tied by string,
Lions in cages growlin' at things
A one-eyed dancer with a glittery frown
To bring the circus into town
With polished people out in a line
This their festival divine
A once a year, an exotic dream
Once in a lifetime, never been seen

Well they came to rest on Parkers Piece
Come yea gentlefolk, a feast!
Apple bobbin, finger robbin'
Horses, dogs n' children noddin'
All except for one in robes
She the one that lived too close
Hollerin' with fire n' stones
Angry widow, Mary Ann Bones

Well never in her life before
Had she heard an elephant roar the door!
She closed the curtains, wore a hat
And locked away her gingery cat
Nothin' save the wind on wood
Would knock her from this neighbourhood
Nothin' 'ceptin' God himself
Would keep her from her glowin' health
Nights the roarin' came n' went
And nothin' but her time was spent
She mithered up, n' she mithered down
She bellowed at the work of clowns
She drew a face upon the floor
And stamped n' kicked it like a horse ~
No wonder when the big top raised
The ringmaster was all a' daze
His shoulders prickled, he was doomed
Damned and set upon by gloom
His tamers and trapezers fell
Down with somethin' ill as hell
Nobody could work it out
As skilled repairmen fell about
Why girls in fancy sequinned skirts
Were grey as mourners behind a hearse
'It's a curse' they cried 'A Curse! A Curse!'
This illness here is gettin' worse
The women all grew beards n' whiskers
Roustabouts were froze with blisters
Nothin' worked n' nothin' stayed
The big top stung like a barbers shave
Children cried n' candy soured
Lions slept away the hours
Dogs went lame n' horses neighed
The thunder broke this sad parade...

And Cambridge rattled to the sound
Of one last circus leavin' town
Until the end of captured creatures
Bony Mary Ann was speechless
In the window, candles lit
She spelled the demon of her fits
She willed it so, she wished it done
A hymn that bothered on her tongue
Not one livin' thing should die
Caged by wire, n' ropes n' ties
Let 'em loose she chanted high
And blazed her orders to the sky
Nothin' in this dusty town
Had seen the like of a big top down
They packed it up and they set 'em free
And fifteen elephants roared in key!
No make no bones this is the truth
She told me, for she had the proof
A tale of ivory kept so long
She died before she wrote this song
Oh, oh the circus is gone...

© Maria Daines/Paul Killington
All Rights Reserved
(mcps) ASCAP

Let elephants live in peace...