My Daddy's Ship (MacEdward Leach)

See also: The Ship That Never Came
(Kenneth Peacock)

It bein' on one winter's evening,
As I lay down to sleep,
I saw a b'y 'bout twelve years old
To his mother's breast did weep;
Sayin', once I had a daddy dear,
That gave me fond embrace,
If he was here he'd wipe the tear
Rolls down my mother's face.

How well I do remember
When he took me on his knee,
And gave me some of the fruit he brought
From a foreign counteree.
He said, you are the only child
In this world the Lord gave me,
Dear heaven, my b'y, above the sky
Makes a home for you and me.

Where is that tall and gallant ship
That took my dad away,
With colours decked and all sails sot
For to plow the deep blue sea,
Sayin', all the other ships they are returned
From crossing the white foam,
Why don't my daddy's ship return,
Oh, why don't he come home?

Why don't my daddy's ship return,
Oh, mother come tell me why?
Why don't my daddy's ship return,
Why do you weep and cry?
Your daddy' s ship, my gentle son,
Got a-dashed beneath the waves,
And many's the tall and gallant ship
Sails o'er your daddy's grave.

When he was leaving home,
He said twelve months he would be gone,
But now the winter winds do blow
And the twelfth month's coming on;
I dreamt last night I saw my dad,
Waving his hat in hand,
And the word he spoke, God bless you both,
As he sailed from Newfoundland.

Come all of you young widows
Who are offtimes left to mourn,
For once they had a husband dear
But, alas, from me he's gone;
He was the joy of my first life
When he pressed me to his side,
For the mother and son they both lived on,
And mother and son to die.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland song ....####

Collected in 1951 from John James of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs Charlotte Decker [1884-1967] of Parson's Pond, NL, and published as The Ship That Never Came in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.795-796, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that this late, sentimental ballad was found previously by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield and included as The Gentle Boy in their Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968.) Peacock also commented that he had not seen it in other collections.

A variant was recorded as The Widow's Lament by Tommy Nemec singing acapella the songs he heard sung by his grandfather, John P Myrick [1900-1984] with Thomas (Tom) Finlay [1885-?] at house parties in St Shotts and on Cape Pine, NL (Songs From The Cape, trk#2, 2003, Backcove Music, St John's, NL, recorded at the Cape Pine Lightstation).

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 'set' spoken with a Newfoundland dialect.


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