The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #170990   Message #4135795
Posted By: Joe Offer
08-Feb-22 - 02:28 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The H'emmer Jane
Subject: ADD:: The H'emmer Jane

Now ’tis of a young maiden this story I tell,
And of her young lover, and what them befell.
Now her lover was a sea captain and he sailed the blue sea,
And this is the circumstances surroundin’ the departure of 'e.

Now the vessel ’e sailed on was called the H'Emmer Jane.
’Twas in riverence of she that he gi’ed her that name,
So that while ’e was sailin’ all o’er the blue sea
The vessel that ’e sailed in might mind ’e of she.

With a boatload of shingles our Captain sailed away,
Sailed away from his true love all on a summer’s day,
And he never more was heard of, nor his vessel so brave,
So ’twas figgered pretty generally that he found a watery grave.

On a cold stormy mornin’ all down by the sea
H’Emmer Jane sot a-waitin’, sot a-waitin’ for ’e.
On a cold stormy mornin’ her body were found,
So ’twas figgered pretty ginerally she'd gone crazy and got drowned.

They buried her up in the buryin’ ground,
And they put up a headstone tellin’ how she were found,
And over her head they sot out a willer tree
That the wind in the branches might mind dey of she.

Not so very long after these here t’ings occurred
A stranger comes to town where H’Emmer Jane happened to be bur’d,
And he axed of the sexton where H’Emmer Jane might be.
The sexton answered by pointin' to the old willer tree.

Next mornin’ they found ’im by the side of H’Emmer Jane.
They found ’is cold carcass insensibly a-layin’,
And in his brist pocket were a handkerchief of her’n,
So ’twas figgered pretty ginerally ’twas the Captain returned.

They buried ’e up in a grave close by ’er,
And over his head they sot out a wild brier.
Now the wind in the willer is in memory of she,
And the wild brier twist round 'en is in memory of'e.

50. The ‘H'Emmer Jane'
Clyde Gilmour, Toronto, 1957
This lachrymose lament goes to the ubiquitous tune of 'Villikens and His Dinah,' used for several Newfoundland songs, and, like that more famous ballad, it satirizes the broadsides which old such heart-rending stories in all seriousness. No one seems to know who is responsible for the tearful tale, Jut it is much beloved in Newfoundland. A broadside set at the Golden Hind Press in Madison, NJ., in 1941 gives a text as sung by Eric Penny and claims: 'Emmer Jane is a folk song from the south shore of Newfoundland, here printed for the first time.’ A version from C. M. Lane of St John’s appears in More Folk Songs of Canada 156), and a version from Bob MacLeod is in the 1966 Doyle songbook 49).
In a letter (11 September 1972) Mr MacLeod writes: ‘I first heard it sung by a man in an Indian Bay lumbering camp during a visit there about 1939 or 1940 when I was helping he late Gerald S. Doyle to collect songs for his Newfoundland song book .... I used it many times in Newfoundland programmes I did for entertainment at convention gatherings both here at home and in the Maritimes, Probably as a result of this it did become more well known.’
Clyde Gilmour learned it from Mr MacLeod when he was stationed in St John’s during the Second World War, and his version has acquired a few variations. It is always sung with an exaggerated Newfoundland accent.

Source: #50 (pp 120-121) in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, Compiled by Edith Fowke (Penguin Books, 1973)