The Lady And The Sailor (MacEdward Leach)

It was of a rich merchant in London did dwell,
He had one fine daughter no one could excel;
Rich lords came to court her
but she slighted them all,
She fancied a sailor who was handsome and tall.

As soon as this young man put his foot on the land,
He was discovered by one of the band;
And then to her father the news was soon told,
That she was to wed to a young sailor bold.

He called on his daughter with an angry face,
Saying, "If you can't get no better man
get out of this place;
If you can't get no better man
your fond arms to embrace,
Then to wed to a sailor your friends to disgrace!"

"Oh father, dear father," this fair one did say,
"There's no one on earth like a sailor to me;
If the sailor is willing he's the lad I adore,
And I will go with him where the angry seas roar."

"Now since, cruel daughter, now this be your lot,
You can go and get married but speak of me not;
You can go and get married and speak not of me,
And when all things are over we will surely agree!"

This fair one she dressed in a suit of men's clothes,
On board of the ship to the captain she goes;
She agreed with the captain and it fell to her lot,
For to lie by her true love and speak to him not.

As the lady and the sailor were plowing the deep,
Says the lady to the sailor, "Why sigh in your sleep?"
"I once had a true love, it was she won my heart,
It was by her cruel father that we did depart."

"I am an astronomer reared up to attend,
And astronomer's books I rehearse now and then;
Come and tell me your name
and I will cast out your lot,
For to see if you'll gain this fair lady or not."

He told her his name and the hour of his birth,
She said, "You were born of great giant birth;
You'll gain this fair lady in spite of them all,
For I am your Helen right here at your call."

This couple got married among the ship's crew,
Because this fair lady was loyal and true;
And now they are sailing for Columbus' long shore,
Drink a health to their father, they'll see him no more.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Disguised Sailor [Laws N6] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Lady And Sailor, published by W Birmingham (Dublin) ca.1867, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 19(40) ....####

Collected in 1950 from Gerald Aylward [1917-1987] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #35, Lady And The Sailor, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.


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