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John Minear Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? (182* d) RE: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? 11 Jan 12


Part II

There are a number of themes that do not show up in the versions of "The House Carpenter" that we have "collected" on this thread. These are themes that are common to the older versions from the British Isles. This includes the "Andrews/De Marsan" broadside, and excludes the Sullivan and Price versions.

There is no mention of any "ghost" or of "the Devil". As far as I can tell there are no hints at anything supernatural or diabolical. There is no mention of any "broken vows" or any punishment for the woman because she has broken previous vows. The person who steals away the House Carpenter's wife has "come from the sea," "come across the sal', salt sea," has "crossed the sea," has "crossed the salt sea wave," has "come across the sea," has "returned from the salt, salt sea," has "come across the deep blue sea," has "just returned from the salt, salt sea" (Willard). George Edward's version says,

"It's pretty well met to my own true love,
It's pretty well met," says he,
"It's pretty well met to my own true love,
Long time I've waited for thee, O thee,
A long time I've waited for thee.

This seems to indicate that the one absent (at sea) has "waited" a "long time". This is the only mention of time in any of the versions. There is no mention of "seven years" in any of them.

There is no mention of anybody's actual name in any of these versions. And finally, none of these Northeastern versions, including the broadsides, have the two verses about seeing the hills of "heaven" and "hell", which are so frequent in the Southern versions. There is no mention of the ship being destroyed by it's owner at sea. In every case it sinks because of natural causes.

There is no use of older English words, such as "league", or any signs of Scottish dialect in any of these versions. George Edwards does make reference to "pounds" in a verse that is unique to him and seems to have come from some other song:

"But if I was worth ten thousand pounds,
So freely I'd give it to thee
If I could once more go on yonder shore
My two [three] little babes to see, O see,
My two [three] little babes to see."

Edwards' version is somewhat anachronistic throughout. Two of the versions, from Mancour (VT) and Degreenia (CT), mention "the sweet Dundee." But it is impossible to know why and whether this reference came with the ballad or from other associations, since the names associated with this particular verse are very diverse. None of the versions refer to "the banks of sweet Italy." And none of them refer to "white lilies at the bottom of the sea."


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