The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #39679   Message #563605
Posted By: Abby Sale
02-Oct-01 - 03:22 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Pretty Polly (#311)
Subject: The Ghost Song (#311)^^^

Already sent to 1/17/99 - may not need to be harvested.

DT #311


Now the queen, she wants sailors to sail on the sea,
Which made pretty Polly to stand up for to plead;
Sayin' William, dearest William, don't you go off to sea,
Please remembers the vows that you made unto me.

But 'twas early the next morning, before it was day,
That he went to his Polly, these words he did say:
Oh, Polly, pretty Polly, you must come 'long with me,
Before we are married my friends for to see.

So he led her through groves and through valleys so deep,
Which made pretty Polly to sigh and to weep,
Sayin', William, dearest William, you have led me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray.

Oh, yes, dearest Polly, 'tis true all you've said.
For all this long night I've been diggin' your grave.
And the grave, it being open and the spade standing by
Which made pretty Polly to weep and to cry.

Oh pardon, dear William, my innocent life
And I'll never regret for to be your true wife.
I'll travel old England over all to set you free,
Please remember the vows that you made unto me.

[Pardon a digression but I'm always struck at just how dumb
this broad is. Here's Willy killing her for the good and
traditional reason that she's pregnant and he doesn't want
to get married. Her best solution is "don't kill me and I'll
do everything I can to get us married." She really needed a
reality check!  She gets her own back in this version so don't
feel too sorry for her.]
But no pardon, no pardon, no pardon I'll give.
And with that he drew out the long dagger-knife;
He stabbed her to the heart and the blood did down-flow,
And into the grave, fast, her body did throw.

Now, he carried her securely, and up all quite sound,
He's not thinking the body would ever be found;
Then he went on board for a sailor to go
Not thinking the murder would ever out-through.

But 'twas early one morning, before it was day,
Then our captain come up and these words he did say,
Our ship, she is in mourning and cannot sail on,
There's a murderer on board what has lately been done.

Then up jumped one sailor and, "Indeed, it's not me."
Then up jumped another, the same he did say.
Then up jumped bold William to stamp and to swear,
Sayin', "Indeed, it's not me, sir; I vow and declare."

Then he hastened to the forecastle with speed,
There he met his pretty Polly which made his heart bleed.
She ripped him and she stripped him and she tore him in three,
Because he had murdered the baby and she.

Also called "The Ghost Song" or "Molly and the Sailor," from the singing of the late Peter Bellamy. His source was the source singer, fisherman Sam Larner of Norfolk. See an older, longer version, "The Gosport Tragedy" (probably about 1680) at DT filename [shipcarp for its most common title "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter" ('Cruel' is often omitted.)

Child does not report this but it's often been reported and Broadsided all over Britain. Sharp found 21 Appalachian versions; his 'B' is very similar to Bellamy's. In spite of expectations, Sharp reports Appalachian versions that retain both mystic elements: the return of the ghost and the Jonah motif. (This refers to the truism that American versions of European songs tend to drop any mystical elements as in "The Daemon Lover" / "House Carpenter." They tend to but don't invariably. Nevertheless, the more modern "Pretty Polly" variants rarely includes the ghost.