Johnny's Gone To Sea (Max Hunter)

See also: The Old Bo's'n (Kenneth Peacock)

And also: The Boatswain And The Tailor (Greenleaf/Mansfield)

One day while walking I spied a fair maiden,
When a handsome young fellow she happened to meet;
She quickly told him, but very sadly,
They'd taken her Johnny away to sea.

I stood there and listened to what they were saying,
For Johnny was my friend, you see;
She said, I am so sad and lonely,
O, Willie, please come home with me.

That night they were talking about poor Johnny,
And how he would cross the rolling tide;
It was about nine when they heard voices,
He turned and asked her where he could hide.

There's a chest by my bed, now you run quickly,
She turned up the light and opened the door;
In walked Johnny with a whole bunch of sailors,
She couldn't count them, there were twenty or more.

I have not come to ask you for money,
No, I have not come home to rest;
I just dropped by to tell you I'm leaving,
And while I am here, I'll pick up my chest.

They picked it up, and it was so heavy,
They set it down and looked inside;
And there laid Willie, he sure looked silly,
His mouth and eyes were open so wide.

Now, we won't kill him with guns nor fighting,
No, we won't kill him with the sword;
We'll take him out on a whole day's journey,
And there we'll throw him overboard.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of the theme in the British broadside ballad, The Boatsman And The Chest [Laws Q8] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957) ....####
This variant collected in 1959 by Max Hunter from Mrs Pearl Brewer of Pocahontas, AR, and archived at the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, MO, Vol 9, Cat #0351.

Three variants were collected by Kenneth Peacock and published as The Old Bo's'n in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.306-311, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was also collected as #53, The Boatswain And The Tailor in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

As noted in the biography of Thomas Hardy [1840-1891]: "When he was not over four years of age, this was one of the songs that so moved him while his father played it, that he would dance on and on to conceal his weeping."


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