The Dark-Eyed Sailor
(Kenneth Peacock)
MIDI, video
#2513: YouTube video by TheMadtownPhillies
℗2013 ~ Used with permission ~


It was a charming young maiden fair,
Walked out one evening to take the air;
She met a sailor down by the way,
And I paid attention,
And I paid attention to hear what they would say.

Said William: "Lady, why walk alone?
For the day's far spent and the night is coming on."
She answered him while tears did fall,
"It's a dark-eyed sailor,
It's a dark-eyed sailor that's proving my downfall.

"It is seven long years since he left this land,
And a gold ring he took from off his hand;
He broke the ring, gave half to me,
While the other lies rolling,
While the other lies rolling in the bottom of the sea."

Said William: "Drive him from out your mind,
For some other sailor as good you'll find;
Love turns away and cold does grow,
Like a winter's morning,
Like a winter's morning when the fields are white with snow."

These words did her fond heart inflame,
And she said: "Tell me you will cast no shame."
She drew a dagger and loud did cry:
"For my dark-eyed sailor,
For my dark-eyed sailor a maid I'll live and die."

But still she said: "I'll never disdain
A tarry sailor, but I'll treat the same;
Go drink his health, here's a piece of kind,
For this dark-eyed sailor,
For this dark-eyed sailor still claims this heart of mine.

"His two dark-eyes and his curly hair,
And his manly form did my heart ensnare;
Yet here he was not direct like you,
To advise a maiden,
To advise a maiden to slight her boy in blue."

When the ring did young William show,
She seemed distracted between joy and woe.
"Oh welcome, William, I have lands and gold
For my dark-eyed sailor,
For my dark-eyed sailor so manly and bold."

In the little cottage down by the sea,
They're in wedlock bound and you'll well agree.
Young girls be true while your love's at sea,
For a stormy morning,
For a cloudy morning brings forth a pleasant day.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Fair Phoebe And Her Dark-Eyed Sailor [Laws N35] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a British broadside ballad, Fair Phoebe And Her Dark-Ey'd Sailor, published by an unknown printer sometime between 1767 and 1808, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Johnson Ballads 2483 ....####
The video above features the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison, WI, in Spring 2013, performing Ralph Vaughan Wiliams' 1913 music for The Dark Eyed Sailor, Five English Folk Songs For Chorus, trk#1/5.

Collected in 1951 by Kenneth Peacock from Howard Leopold Morry [1885-1972] of Ferryland, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.513-514, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that all the Newfoundland variants of this English broadside song are similar. It is also well known in the Maritimes and in the United States where it was printed in many song books during the 19th century.

A variant was collected in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Mrs William (Katherine) {Kate} Murray Wilson [1893-1979] of Placentia, NL, and published as #27 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.46-47, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press, ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that this is one of the most popular of the numerous broken-ring ballads. It is perplexing that the sailor could pull such a hoax on the fair maid. The singer, Kate Wilson, once remarked that if she had been the lady in question, he would have had to 'hike off' for another six years.

Another variant was sung by Martin Curran [1866-1954] of Calvert, NL, and published in part in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected in 1929 from Mrs Rosanna (Rosie) White [1900-1977] of Sandy Cove, NL, and published as #36, The Dark-Eyed Sailor on page 81 in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; and Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968


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