The Wild Shore (MacEdward Leach)

Down by a wild shore where I careless did wander,
One Saturday evening when calm was the air,
I spied a fair maid with a babe in her arms,
She clinging to a rock, and her grief I declare.

With sorrowful anguish this maid she was complaining,
Saying, Willie, dearest Willie, 'turn home safe to me.
Three times she exclaimed, Will I e'er see you more?
I'm afraid tender Willie lies under the sea.

From the quays of Dunbartlett the steam packet sailed away,
Bound down for Liverpool on Wednesday sailed away,
The weather being clear and the land disappearing,
Its hearts they were merry both cheerful and gay.

The night coming on it looked something dark and dreary,
Our barque between the billows was tossed to and fro;
The captain cried, "My b'ys look ahead for a lighthouse.
I'm afraid this very night we will all suffer sore."

Some on their bended knees for mercy loud imploring,
While more they lay speechless through hope and despair;
Seas loudly roaring and the sailors all swearing,
No sooner saw the danger when they mocked at their prayers.

My Willie he stood by me to guard and protect me,
While my helpless infant I pressed to my breast;
Craving for assistance was no assistance did come near us,
Come all you tender Christians think on our distress.

We hoist out our small boat unto the foaming ocean,
And into one of them got Willie and I;
But before we reached the shore our boat was overwhelmed,
And into the deep forty bodies did lie.

My Willie, being courageous, from the wreck he returned home,
And landed him safe on an islander's shore;
He ventured his sweet life for to save his aged father,
At last I am doomed to behold him no more.

Now I'm left alone, a discontented widow,
Twelve months in wedlock and, as you might plainly see,
I am begging my bread amongst hard-hearted strangers.
May the heavens look down on the orphan and me.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional ballad from an unknown source ....####

Collected in 1951 from Mrs Catherine Mary (Kate) McCarthy [1890-1963] of Renews, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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