The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16745   Message #157864
Posted By: pelrad
04-Jan-00 - 12:45 PM
Thread Name: Info Req: Polly's Love (Waterson-Carthy)
I got the new Waterson:Carthy album, Common Tongue, for Christmas; I'm intrigued by the twelfth cut, Polly's Love. It seems to be a composite of Ship's Carpenter and and The Dreadful Ghost from Barrand and Roberts' Dark Ships In The Forest album. The jacket notes are disappointingly scanty, and I'm wondering if anyone here knows something about either song. Martin Carthy simply says that they learned it from Jim Eldon, who collected it in East Riding.


Fair maids are a-shining over valley and town
There once was a fair maid, her name it was Miss Brown
A young man came courting her dear for to be
And he was by trade a ship's carpenter, was he.

Well, the king he needed sailors for to go off to sea
This made the young maiden to cry and to say
"William, oh William, do not leave me here
Remember your vows you have made to your dear."

It was early the next morning, before it was day
He's gone to his Polly, these words he did say
"Polly, oh Polly, you must come along with me
Before we get married, my friends for to see."

Then he's led her through the groves and through the valleys so deep
This caused poor Polly to cry and to weep
"William, oh William, you've led me astray
On purpose to take my own sweet life away."

"No pardon will I give you and there's no time to stand"
And there in a moment drew a knife with his hand
He stabbed her poor body till red blood did flow
And into a grave her poor body did throw.

Then he's covered her body so safe and secure
He thought none would find her of that he was sure
Then he went on board ship to sail the world round
Before that his murder would ever be found.

It was early one morning, before it was day
The Captain came to him, these words he did say,
"There's a murderer on board and it's lately been done
Our ship, she's in mourning and cannot sail on."

And up stepped one sailor; "Indeed, sir, not I."
And up stepped one other; "Indeed, sir, not I."
And up stepped young William to storm, curse and swear,
"Indeed, sir, not I, sir, I vow and declare."

And as he was turning from the Captain with speed
He's met pretty Polly; it's made his heart bleed
She's ripped him, she's stripped him, she's torn him in three,
Crying, "That's for the murder of my baby and me."

As sung by either John Roberts or Tony Barrand on "Dark Ships in the Forest"

'Tis of a sailor of whom I write.
Unto the seas he took great delight.
Two maidens fair he did beguile,
And those two maidens he had with child.

Oh, one of them for public shame
Unto some handsome grove she came,
And there at length for to end all strife
She cut it there, the thread of life.

She hung herself down from a tree
Where two men a-hunting did her see.
They got a knife and cut her down,
And on her bosom a note was found.

And this was writ in letters large:
"Don't bury me, I do you charge,
But on the ground, there let me lie,
That maids may see me as they pass by.

"Let them take warning by my fate,
And quit this folly before it's too late."
And while on land she plagued him so,
To the seas at length he was forced to go.

One morning on the topmast high,
A little boat he chanced to spy,
A little boat with a large crew of men
And a female ghost who stood up then.

Down decks, down decks this young man goes
To greet the Captain in his morning clothes,
Saying, "Captain, Captain, stand my defense,
For I see a spirit coming hence!"

So up on deck this Captain goes,
And there he spies this dreadful ghost.
She says, "Captain, Captain, come tell me true:
Does such a man sail among your crew?"

"Twas in St. Taliens this young man died,
And in St. Taliens his body lies."
She says: "Captain, Captain, don't tell me so,
For he's sailing down in your ship below.

"And if you don't bring him up to me,
A mighty storm you soon shall see,
Which will cause both you and your gallant men to weep,
And leave you slumbering in the deep."

Down decks, down decks this Captain goes
And brings this young man up to his foes,
And when she fixed her grim eyes on him,
It made him tremble in every limb.

"Oh, don't you remember when I was a maid?
You caused my poor trembling heart to bleed.
Now I'm a spirit come for thou.
You balked me once, but I've got you now!"

Down in her boat she forced him.
Down in her boat he was forced for to go,
And as he did we all did admire,
For the boat went down in a flame of fire.

And as she sank, she rose again,
And aye she sang this mournful strain:
"You sailors all who are left behind,
Never prove false to young womankind!"