The Young Fisherman (Kenneth Peacock)

As I roved out one May morning
All along the riverside,
'Twas there I spied a young fisherman
Go rowing down the tide.

He rowed his boat unto the shore
And tied it to a stake,
For there he heard a maiden weep
As if her heart would break.

He boldlye steppèd up 'long side
When to his great surprise,
He saw 'twas his true lovyer fair
Who wrung her hands and cried:

"Oh fisherman, young fisherman,
How came you fishing here?"
"I came for you young lady gay
All down the river clear."

He then pulled off his morning gown
And threw it on the ground,
'Twas there she beheld three chains of gold
Around his neck hung down.

She then fell on her bended knee
Saying, "Pardon, pardon me
For calling you a young fisherman
Not knowing who you be."

He took her 'round her middle so small
And sot her on his knee
Saying, "We shall go to my father's house
And married we shall be."

He took her by the lily-white hand
And led her by his side
Saying, "You shall have a young fisherman
To row you down the tide."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, The Bold Fisherman [Laws O24] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Bold Fisherman, published by J Catnach (London) sometime between 1813 and 1838, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 11(3114) ....####

Collected in 1960 by Kenneth Peacock from Leonard Hulan [1881-1964] of Jeffrey's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.603-604, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that in a 1915 issue of the Journal Of The Folk Song Society (England) Lucy Broadwood suggested that this rare ballad might have originated as a medieval allegory. Nowadays the ballad has lost all its mystical connotations and survives only as a charming love lyric, leaving it open to an equally interesting 'Freudian' interpretation, complete with fertility and sexual symbols. This latter interpretation was quite spontaneously arrived at by the singer himself whose eyes twinkled wickedly when he sang the phrase 'rowing down the tide.' The use of the tide as a female symbol is very old and has become almost a commonplace in contemporary love poetry.

Note on the words 'boldlye' and 'lovyer': "... an added 'y' can enlarge or distort an existing vowel or diphthong: villyan, joynt (villain, giant)." Morath, Max (2004) Translating Mister Dooley: A New Examination of the Journalism of Finley Peter Dunne (The Journal of American Culture, Vol.27, Issue 2, page 147).

GEST notes that the word 'sot' appears several times in the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English, usually within quotations which serve as examples of usage for defined words. The word itself is obscurely defined on page two of the Introduction to the Dictionary. It is used in this song as the past tense of the verb 'sit' spoken with a Newfoundland dialect.


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