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pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter?

DigiTrad:
PRETTY POLLY (2)
THE CRUEL SHIP'S CARPENTER
THE GHOST SONG
THE SHIP'S CARPENTER


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter (183)
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Lyr Req: Pretty Polly? (26)
Lyr/Chords Req: Pretty Polly (Stanley Brothers) (14)
Lyr/Chords Add: Pretty Polly (5)
Lyr Req: Pretty Polly / lost verse (19)
Lyr Add: Pretty Polly (#311) (2)
Lyr Req: Little Molly / Pretty Polly / etc. (5)
Info Req: Polly's Love (Waterson-Carthy) (6)


The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 12:37 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Dec 09 - 12:53 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 01:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Dec 09 - 01:07 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Dec 09 - 01:30 PM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Dec 09 - 01:35 PM
Goose Gander 20 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM
Terry McDonald 20 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM
RTim 20 Dec 09 - 02:34 PM
Tootler 22 Feb 10 - 02:38 PM
The Sandman 22 Feb 10 - 03:01 PM
Tootler 23 Feb 10 - 06:12 PM
Tradsinger 24 Feb 10 - 02:37 PM
Goose Gander 24 Feb 10 - 02:47 PM
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Subject: pretty polly
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:37 PM

I would like some background info, is it a derivative of The House Carpenter.
hope you like this versionhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAuc6rFXb1E&feature=emai

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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:53 PM

I think it's Cruel Ship's Carpenter (Roud 15). I used to do this many years ago when I hadn't a clue where it came from, I just did stuff I liked. In fact, I think I imagined Bert Jansch had written it . . .


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:06 PM

Hi, Borchester.
I like to do stuff, I like as well, the Cruel Ships Carpenter, does that involve a ghostly visitation? probably a more complete version.


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:07 PM

Related, but perhaps not derivative. Also Gosport Tragedy.
See Traditional Ballad Index.

There are threads here, but I can't access them. Problems at mudcat?


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:30 PM

Ghostly visitation, Dick? I'll say.
Here are two Cruel Ship's Carpenters from my archive, one from Worcester and the other from Plymouth:


In fair Worcester town and in fair Worcestershire
A beautiful damsel she once lived there.
A young man he courted her all for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship's carpenter.
Early one morning before it was day,
He went to his Polly, these words he did say:
'O Polly, O Polly, you must go with me,
Before we are married my friends for to see.'
He led her through woods and through valleys so deep,
Which caused this poor maiden to sigh and to weep:
'O Billy, O Billy, you have led me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray.
'O Billy, O' Billy, Oh pardon my life,
I never will covet for to be your wife;
I'll travel the whole world to set myself free,
If you will pardon my baby and me.'
'There's no time for pardon, there's no time to save,
For all the night long I've been digging your grave.
Your grave is now open and the spade is standing by';
Which caused this young damsel to weep and to cry.
He covered her up so safe and secure,
Thinking no one could find her, he was sure.
Then he went on board to sail the world round,
Before the murder could ever be found.
Early one morning before it was day,
The captain he came up and these words he did say:
'There's a murderer on board and he must be known.
Our ship is in mourning, we cannot sail on.'
Then up steps the first man, 'I'm sure it's not me';
Then up steps the second, 'I'm sure it's not me';
Then up steps bold William to stamp and to swear:
'I'm sure it's not me sir. I vow and declare.'
Now as he was turning from captain with speed,
He meet with his Polly, which made his heart bleed.
She ripped him and tore him, she tore him in three,
Because that he murdered her baby and she.



The moon, it was shining on fair Plymouth town,
There lived a lovely damsel, her name was Miss Brown.
She courted handsome Willie, her darling for to be
His trade long and steady, a ship's carpenter was he.

It was early one morning before the break of day,
A voice came to the window and this to her did say,
Saying, "Rise up lovely Mary, and come away with me
Before we get married, some friends (pleasures) to see.

And he led her through the fields and the valleys oh so deep,
'Til at length lovely Mary began for to weep;
Saying,"Willie, handsome Willie, you've led me astray
Through the fields and the valleys, my life to betray."

"It's true what you say to me, it's just the truth you say
For late, late last night I was a-digging your grave,
Your grave that is open, and spade standing by
And down in the grave your fair body must lie."

And he stabbed her, he stabbed her, 'til the red blood did flow
And into the grave her fair body he did throw,
And he's buried her so neatly and he's covered her so sound
Not thinking this murder would ever be found.

It was early one morning before the break of day,
Over comes the Captain, and this to all did say,
"There's murder on shipboard has lately been done
Our good ship lies in mourning and cannot sail on.

Then up and spoke one sailor, "Indeed 'tis not I,"
Up and spoke another, "The same I do deny."
Then up spoke young Willie to damn, curse and swear
"Indeed, sir, not I, sir I'll vow and declare."

But as he was a-going and turning around,
He spied lovely Mary, she was dressed all in brown,
And she's snatched at him, and she's cut him, and she's tore him in three,
Saying "That's for the murder of my baby and me!"   (x 2)


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:35 PM

It's on MacColl's "Long Harvest" vol 2 as a version of the Gosport Tragedy.


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Goose Gander
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM

Some threads here to get you started. Your's sounds like an American variant.


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM

I have a few more verses to the Plymouth version which I think add to the coherence of the story

After verse 4:

Oh Willy, Oh Willy, oh pardon my life
And I will never covet to be your sweet wife
I will travel the country to set you quite free
Oh pardon, oh pardon my baby and me.

No pardon I'll give thee, no time for to stand,
And with that he took a sharp knife in his hand
And he stabbed her, and he stabbed her, 'til the red blood it did flow
And down in that grave, her fair body he did throw.

And he's buried her so deeply,and he's buried her so sound
Not thinking that this murder would ever be found
And he's gone on board his ship to sail the world around
Before that the murder should ever be found.

(The above are all from Jackie Oates' version, I think, but I found two others which explain how the Captain knew about the murder)

Our ship had a Captain, a man of courage bold
And late, late last night he went into the hold
Where a beautiful maiden to him did appear
And she carried in her arms an infant so dear.

And the dress that she wore was covered all in blood
So he quickly stepped up to her to help if he could
What man has done this deed? he quickly did say
But then in an instant she vanished away.


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Subject: ADD: The Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: RTim
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 02:34 PM

This is version collected in Hampshire from George Blake - St. Denys

Tim Radford


The Cruel Ship's Carpenter.

In fair Warwick city in fair Warwickshire
A handsome young damsel oh! Lived there
A handsome young man courted her to be his dear
And he was by trade a Ship's Carpenter.

The king wanted seaman to go on the sea
Which caused this young damsel to sigh and to say,
"Oh William oh William, don't you go to sea,
Remember the vows that you made unto me."

One morning so early before it was day
He came to his Polly these words he did say,
"Oh Polly oh Polly, you must go with me
Before we are married, our friends for to see."

He led her through groves and valleys so steep
Which caused this young damsel to sigh and to weep,
"Oh William oh William you have led me astray
On purpose, my innocent life to betray."

"It's true it's true," then these words I did say
"For it's all this long night I've been digging your grave."
The grave laying open the spade standing by
Which caused this young damsel to sigh and to cry.

"Oh William, oh William, you pardon my life,
I never will covet to be your wife.
I'll travel the country to set you quite free
Oh pardon, oh pardon my baby and me."

"No pardon no pardon, there's no time to stand,"
And with that he had a knife in his hand.
He stabbed her fair heart till the blood it did flow
And into the grave her fair body he threw.

He covered her up so safe and secure
Thinking no one would find her he was sure
He went on board to sail the world round
Before that this murder could ever be found.

One morning so early before it was day
The captain came up and these words he did say,
"There's a murder on board and it's lately been done
Our ship she's in mourning and cannot sail on."


Then up stepped one, "indeed it's not me."
Then up stepped another, the same he did say
Then up stepped young William to stamp and to swear,
"Indeed it's not me I vow and declare."

As he was returning from the captain with speed
He met his fair Polly, which made his heart bleed.
She stripped she tore him, she tore him in three,
Because he had murdered her baby and she.


"Tune: ÔVillikins'" - G.G.        
Gardiner mss no. 343 collected in Nov 1907 in notebook no. 12, page 97, no music was collected, but note saying tune used was 'Villikins'.
There is a clear note on this page that says,
        "Crutie"(Geo. Blake) 79, Bitterne, Southampton.


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 02:38 PM

I liked your version Dick.

I found this version in a book of songs collected by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles in the Appalachians in about 1917.

The Cruel Ship's Carpenter
Traditional: Collected in N. Carolina by Cecil Sharp & Maud Karpeles

O Polly, O Polly, O will you agree
O Will you agree and get married to me?
O William, O William, that never will do
For I am too young to get married to you

O Polly, O Polly, if you will agree
Before we get married, some pleasure we'll see.
He led her o'er mountains and valleys so deep
Till at length pretty Polly began for to weep

O William, O William, you're leading me astray
On purpose my innocent heart to betray.
O Polly, O Polly, I guess you spoke right
I was digging your grave the best part of last night

She fold' her arms around him without any fear,
How can you bear to kill the girl that loves you so dear?
O Polly, O Polly, we've no time to stand.
And instantly drew a short knife in his hand.

He piercéd her heart and the blood it did flow,
And into her grave her fair body did throw.
He covered her up and away he did go.
He left nothing but small birds to make their sad moan.

He entered his ship on the salt sea so wide
And swore by his maker he'd see the other side.
Whilst he was a sailing in his heart's content
The ship sprung a leak, to the bottom she went.

Whilst he was a lying there all in his sad surprise
He saw pretty Polly appear before his eyes.
O William, O William, you've no time to stay;
There's a debt to the devil that you're bound to pay.

The book also contains a rather fine Dorian mode tune;

X:1
T:The Cruel Ship's Carpenter
C:Version Collected by Cecil Sharp & Maud Karpeles in N. Carolina.
M:2/2
L:1/8
K:Gdor
D2|G4G2F2|D4F2D2|C4D2F2|G6G2|G4G2F2|D4F2D2|C4D2F2|G6G2|
G4B2c2|d4c2B2|d4c2G2|B4(B2A2)|G4G2F2|D4F2D2|C4D2F2|G6|]


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 03:01 PM

thanks tootler


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Subject: RE: pretty polly
From: Tootler
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 06:12 PM

You're most welcome, Dick.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:37 PM

I have collected The Cruel Ship' Carpenter from 2 local travellers (gypsies) both of whom are no longer with us. Their versions can be heard on the recordings of the Smith and Brazil families, issued by Musical Traditions. When Danny Brazil sang me his version, he annoucned that he was going to sing "The Seamen Song". I thought this was going to be a bit of English erotica until he started "Our Captain wanted seamen to sail on the sea." All was explained (think about it).
Most English versions go on to the supernatural bit where Polly's ghost kills Willy in revenge for his killing of her and her baby, but most American versions I have heard stop short after he buries the body. I think the English versions have that spooky quality which is missing in the American versions. Mind you, to hear Pretty Polly sung by a good banjo player can be riveting. I have on occasions done the 2 songs together, going from the unaccompanied English version into the American version, with banjo. Of the American versions I have heard, I like Dock Boggs' best, mainly because he sang it in a key I can sing in!

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:47 PM

"I think the English versions have that spooky quality which is missing in the American versions"

I have to disagree (surprise!): American versions are often quite 'spooky' with Willie the murderer going mad, tortured by guilt, dying and going straight to Hell, etc.

"Went on a piece further and felt it not right
Went raving, distracted and died the same night" - Addie Graham

In general, American versions 'show' more than they tell, and the sparseness and compression intensifies the emotional impact of the ballad.


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