The Maid Of Newfoundland (James Murphy)

See also: The Maid Of Newfoundland (Kenny Family)

And also: The Maid Of Newfoundland
(Kenneth Peacock)

You muses mine, with me combine,
your aid I do invite,
To sing the praise of her I love,
my own sweet heart's delight;
To sing in praise of her I love,
your aid I do demand,
This maiden fair, I do declare,
she dwells in Newfoundland.

The wild rose on its native thorn
spreads fragrance on the gale,
The modest lily sweetly shines
in every silent vale;
The violet on its liquid bed
doth silently expand,
I know a flower exceeds them all
that lives in Newfoundland.

The daisy decks the sleeping green,
the primrose loves the shade,
The bluebell hangs its drooping head
in many a lonely glade;
A modest emblem of herself
that sweet and fragrant band,
I shall repine till thou art mine,
dear maid of Newfoundland.

The diamonds sparkle bright and clear
in many a queenly crown,
The virgin pearl beneath the sea
lies many a fathom down;
The diamond, pearl, and peerless gem
of Africa's sunny strand,
Cannot compare with her so fair,
the maid of Newfoundland.

'Twas on the coast of Labrador
when first I saw this maid,
On Batteau's cold and stormy shore
where first my heart had strayed;
Oh, were I rich or powerful
her heart I would demand,
For her I sigh, for her I'd die,
the maid of Newfoundland.

I've seen the maids of many lands,
on many a foreign shore,
The French, the Greek, the Portuguese,
likewise the swarthy Moor,
Chinese, Malays, Austrian maids
and the girls of Hindustan,
But for beauty rare they can't compare
with the maid of Newfoundland.

Diana was a virgin fair,
both chaste and comely, too,
But not one soft kind of sentiment
of woman's worth she knew;
Her heart 'twas cold, she did disdain
sweet hymen's guiding band,
Ah! love is thine would thou wert mine,
dear maid of Newfoundland.

I wish that I could speak her name,
but prudence seals my tongue,
'Tis enough to know she's beautiful,
both handsome fair, and young;
Her winning smile and artless guile
would soon your love command,
Ah! love 'tis thine I wish 'twert mine,
dear maid of Newfoundland.

Her beauteous love both night and day
I will attempt to win,
And I will pray this fair one may
to Cupid's love give in;
Oh, should I fail to win her love
I'll seek a foreign strand,
From this world I'll part with a broken heart
for the maid of Newfoundland.

####.... Author unknown (see notes below). Traditional Newfoundland song collected by James Murphy ....####
First printed in St John's in 1904 on pp.81-83 of the Old Colony Song Book, Newfoundland , published by James Murphy [1867-1931], who noted that The Maid Of Newfoundland relates to a love incident which happened on the Labrador shore about forty years or more previous to the publication of his booklet. The author and the love-sick swain are the same persons. The lady was a handsome beauty of her day, and a native of the head of Conception Bay; the writer was afterwards married to The Maid Of Newfoundland; he was an Englishman, a sea-faring man, and captain of one of our merchant ships.

This variant was printed in St John's in 1905 on pp.2-3 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book, and also in 1923 on pp.9-10 of Songs Their Fathers Sung, For Fishermen: Old Time Ditties, both published in St John's by James Murphy [1867-1931], who noted that this song was written nearly fifty years ago (c.1855) and was a favourite amongst the fishermen. The author was an English captain named Jewer of one of the old-time English vessels which took fish to market. The heroine was a fair daughter of Conception Bay. They were married to each other afterwards and lived happy, rearing a family.

A nearly exact copy of Murphy's variant was reprinted in the Atlantic Guardian Vol 14, #10 (October 1957), Ewart Young [1913-1968], editor, published by Guardian Limited, St John's NL.

A very similar variant was also published in Gerald S Doyle's Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (2nd Ed, p.21, 1940), with the note: "From Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland" (#118, p.233, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933, as sung in 1929 by John Noftall (b.1902) of Fleur de Lys, NL, for Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield).

A variant was also collected in 1951 from Patrick J (Pat) Curtis [1896-1983] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Another variant was collected in 1961 from Andrew Joseph Nash [1882-1964] of Branch, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as The Maid Of Newfoundland in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.372-373, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was also collected in 1977 from Mrs Caroline (Carrie) Brennan [1892-1994] of Ship Cove, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #71 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.123-124, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that this lovely song seems to have been written sometime late in the 18th century by a Captain Duers or Jewers. It is not certain if he was actually a Newfoundlander or a foreign captain on a visit to Newfoundland. In any case, the man was certainly captivated by the beauty of a young lady who appears to have been a native of Carbonear, NL. It is rather unfortunate that 'prudence held his tongue' or we would know the true identity of this exquisite creature


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