The Dreadful Ghost (John Roberts & Tony Barrand)

See also: The Sea Ghost (Collected by Peacock)

It's of a sailor of whom I write,
Unto the seas he took great delight;
Two maidens fair he did beguile,
And those two maidens he had with child.

Oh, one of them, for public shame,
Unto some handsome grove she came;
And there, at length, for to end all strife,
She cut it there, the thread of life.

She hung herself down from a tree,
Where two men a-hunting did her see;
They got a knife and cut her down,
And on her bosom a note was found.

And this was writ in letters large:
"Don't bury me, I do you charge;
But on the ground there let me lie,
That maids may see me as they pass by.

"Let them take warning by my fate,
And quit this folly before it's too late."
And while on land she plagued him so,
To the seas at length he was forced to go.

One morning on the topmast high,
A little boat he chanced to spy;
A little boat with a large crew of men,
And a female ghost who stood up then.

Down decks, down decks this young man goes,
To greet the captain in his morning clothes;
He says, "Captain, Captain, stand my defense,
For I see a spirit a-coming hence."

So up on deck this captain goes,
And there he spies this dreadful ghost;
She says, "Captain, Captain, come tell me true,
Does such a man sail among your crew?"

"It was in St Taliens this young man died,
And in St Taliens his body lies."
She says, "Captain, Captain, don't tell me so,
For he's sailing down in your ship below.

"And if you don't bring him up to me,
A mighty storm you soon shall see;
Which will cause both you and your gallant men to weep,
And leave you slumbering in the deep."

Down decks, down decks this captain goes,
And brings this young man up to his foes;
And when she fixed her grim eyes on him,
It made him tremble in every limb.

"Oh, don't you-remember when I was a maid,
You caused my poor trembling heart to bleed;
Now I'm a spirit come for thou,
You baulked me once but I've got you now."

Down in her boat she forced him,
Down in her boat he was forced for to go;
And as he did, we all did admire,
For the boat went down in a flame of fire.

And as she sank, she rose again,
And aye, she sang this mournful strain:
"You sailors all who are left behind,
Never prove false to young womankind."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of early 19th-century British broadside ballads: The Sailor's Tragedy [Laws P34A] and The Sailor And The Ghost [Laws P34B]. Also a variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Sailor And The Ghost, as sung by three London actors: John Moody (1727?-1812), Richard Suett (1755-1805), and Robert Palmer (1757-1805?), and published by Laurie and Whittle (London) in 1805, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 10(68) ....####
This variant recorded by John Roberts and Tony Barrand on Dark Ships In The Forest: Ballads Of The Supernatural (Folk Legacy Records, 1977).

Three variants were collected by Kenneth Peacock and published as The Sea Ghost in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.398-403, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was also collected by Helen Creighton (1899-1989) and published as The Dreadful Ghost in Maritime Folk Songs, pp.116-117, Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1962.


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