Liza Gray (The Lady Of The Lake)

As I roved out one evening
down by the banks of the Clyde,
'twas near the town of sweet Dundee,
a bonny lass I spied;
With a doleful lamentation
gave me a sad surprise,
While the crystal tears in showers
fell from her tender eyes.

I boldly steppèd up to her
and this to her did say,
"Why sits you here my bonny lass
beneath this willow tree?"
She sobbed, she sighed, made this reply,
"I'm afraid I'll rue the day,
Since my Willie Brown leaved Greenock town
to cross the raging sea."

"If William Brown was your love's name
I knew that young man well,
Before our ship in pieces split
those words I heard him tell:
'Oh, fare you well, Miss Liza Gray,
I'm afraid your heart will break,
When you hears tell that I am lost
in the Lady Of The Lake,'

"The foaming of the ocean
five hundred miles from shore,
The nor'west winds, mountains of ice
down on our vessel bore;
The Lady Of The Lake that night
was in two pieces rent,
And all excepting thirty-four
down to the bottom went.

"Oh, William Brown among the rest
was tossed all on the sea,
Before the ship in pieces split,
those words I heard him say:
'Oh, fare you well, Miss Liza Gray,
I'm afraid your heart will break,
When you hears tell that I am lost
in the Lady Of The Lake.'

"I pray, young man, for all you say,
come tell me it's true,
Then all my days to a single life
I'll never bid adieu;
Then all my days a single life
I do intend to lead,
So I pray, young man, don't trouble me
beneath this willow tree."

"Arise, arise, Miss Liza Gray,
all sorrows now give o'er,
See how kind fortune's favored me
and brought me safe on shore;
Here is the token you gave me
when we leaved Greenock quay,
And it bears the bonny likeness of you,
sweet Liza Gray."

####.... Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Lady Of The Lake (The Banks Of Clyde) [Laws N41] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century broadside ballad, The Lady Of The Lake, published without a date by an unknown printer, and archived in The Murray Collection of the Glasgow Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Mu23-y3010 ....####
Collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Levi Everett Bennett [1899-?] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, p.928, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was collected in 1951 from George Finlay of St Shott's, NL, as Lady Of The Lake and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected by William Roy Mackenzie [1883-1957] from Mrs James Palmer and published as The Lady Of The Lake in Ballads And Sea Songs From Nova Scotia (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1928.)

Kenneth Peacock noted that the Lady Of The Lake was bound from Belfast to Quebec when she struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on May 1, 1833. Of the 230 on board, only (15) the captain and those in his life-boat survived. According to this Newfoundland variant, Willie Brown must have been one of the captain's passengers. The ballad was popular in north England and south Scotland for many decades, probably because of the broadsides of the story printed in the area (J Cadman, Manchester, No.350; and Bebbington, Manchester, No.172).

See more NL shipwrecks.


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