Charming Blue-Eyed Mary (Lehr and Best)

See also: Charming Blue-Eyed Mary
(Stephanie Squires)

As I roved out one May morning,
one morning 'twas so early,
I spied a fair and comely maid
'twas charming blue-eyed Mary.

'Where are you going, my fair pretty maid,
where are you going so early?'
'I'm going milking, kind sir,' said she,
'from that on to my dairy.'

'Must¹ I come too, my fair pretty maid,
must¹ I come, too, so early?'
'Do as you wish, young man,' she cried,
'for charming blue-eyed Mary.'

They walked and talked over hills and fields,
where skylarks they were singing,
Until they came to some mossy banks
where primroses they were blooming.

They both sat down on the mossy banks
where they knew no one could hear them;
It was there he kissed the rosy lips
of charming blue-eyed Mary.

'And since you got the will of me,
I pray, young man, don't leave me;
If I should prove a child by thee,
my parents they would scorn me.'

Kisses so sweet he gave to her,
just as those words were spoken,
And a diamond ring he gave to her
saying: 'Take this as a token.'

'For I must be gone by the break of dawn,
our ship she do sail early;
And it's now I'll bid a long farewell
to charming blue-eyed Mary.'

As six long months being gone and past,
no letter came to Mary,
Which caused her to view her diamond ring
as she sat in her dairy.

But eight long months being gone and past
she saw her true love Jimmy,
Saying: 'It's now I'm come to wed at last
young charming blue-eyed Mary.

'Will you forsake your houses and land,
your cattle, and your dairy,
All for to be a captain's bride?'
'I will,' cried blue-eyed Mary.

'I will forsake my houses and land,
my cattle and my dairy,
All for to sail far o'er the main,
I will,' cried blue-eyed Mary.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Blue-Eyed Mary, published by James Lindsay (Glasgow) sometime between 1851 and 1910, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: 2806 c.14(149) ....####
This variant was collected in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Dorman Ralph [1923-1999] from Little Harbour Deep and St John's, NL, and published as #19 on pp.32-33 of Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that Dr. Kenneth Goldstein writes of this song in The Livyere: "Though its theme of true love rewarded is not uncommon in folksong, this delightful ballad is rare indeed. The oldest version we know is from a songsheet or broadside printed by J Catnach in London in the early 19th-century." Lehr also noted that Dorman Ralph learned many of his songs from his family and relatives - this one he learned from his Aunt Mrs Thomas (Dorcas) Ralph [1879-1942] of Little Cooney Arm, White Bay, NL.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

¹ This is an older dialect form of must used in question form and meaning may or shall.

A variant was performed live as Charming Blue-Eyed Mary with vocals and accordion by Stephanie Squires of St John's, NL, with bodhran by Phil Dinn during day two of the 1981 Newfoundland Folk Festival.


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