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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
John Minear Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? (182* d) Lyr Add: THE SHIP CARPENTER (trad Vermont) 12 Dec 11

I'm going to go ahead and put up the version that Flanders collected from Lena Bourne Fish, even though we already have a version from Granny Fish collected by the Warners. This is obviously the same version but there are some interesting differences in the way Mrs. Fish has sung her ballad. Flanders says that Mrs. Fish learned this ballad from her father, Stratton Bourne, who was born in northern Vermont, but whose forebears had been early settlers of Bourne, MA, on Cape Cod. It would be nice to claim this as a Massachusetts version, but I think that might be a stretch.

The Ship Carpenter

"Well met, well met, my pretty fair maid!"
"Not so very well met," said she,
"For I am married to a ship carpenter,
And a very fine man is he."

"If you will forsake your ship carpenter
And go along with me,
I will take you where the grass grows green
On the banks of the sweet vallee."

"If I forsake my ship carpenter
And go along with thee,
What have you there to keep me on?
Will I be in slavery?"

"Oh, I have ships all in the bay
And plenty more on land;
Five hundred and ten of fine young men,
And they're all at your command."

She took her baby in her arms
And gave him kisses three.
"Stay home, stay at home with your own father dear,
And he'll take care of thee."

She had not sailed six weeks on the sea,
Oh, no, not scarcely three,
Before this lady began for to mourn
And she wept most bitterly.

"Now do you mourn for gold? said she,
"Or are you tired of me?
Or do you mourn for your ship carpenter
That you left to follow me?"

"I do not mourn for gold," she cries,
"But I am tired fo thee!
And I do mourn for my ship carpenter
And for my sweet babee!"

The wild waves 'round the ship did roll;
They were leagues from shore;
In the bottom of the ship there sprang a leak.
And her mourning was heard no more.

This was recorded in 1940, with a "retake" in 1943. The Warner recording of Lena Bourne Fish was made in 1940. It is interesting to compare the two versions (the Warner one is above), and to notice the subtle differences in wording which really do affect the meaning of the song. [There is a correction to the Warner version: in the third line of the second verse it should read "take" instead of "teak".]

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