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Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover

Steve Gardham 18 Jul 14 - 03:12 PM
Joe Offer 18 Jul 14 - 03:35 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Jul 14 - 05:06 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 14 - 11:17 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jul 14 - 01:44 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 14 - 01:54 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Jul 14 - 02:32 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 14 - 06:49 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 14 - 08:15 AM
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Subject: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 14 - 03:12 PM

This request sprang from the Joyce broadsides at ITMA thread. I've started a new thread as it applies to only one song there.

Among the broadsides are a few interesting hand-written pages of ballads that Joyce had collected from oral tradition c1857. The others are easily identified but this one is nagging at me. It looks quite familiar and I've looked in all of the obvious places at the sailor---parental opposition ballads. Here's what he wrote down, obviously fragments of something longer....(I ought to add, found in Ireland)

It's five long years and something better
Since Willie the Sailor courted me
And many a letter I received
From a foreign countrie.

In one of those letters he demanded
that an answer I should send
Of all those letters so much admired
None so sweet as those in hand.

Her father sent to her a rival
Dressed like Willie the sailor boy
She gave to him a quick denial
Tho' in Bedlam she was found.

Saying thro' this dungeon I will wander
the full length of my long chain
I'll live and die a loyal lover
Till roving Willie return again.

Possibly part of the same ballad is a commonplace

If I had the wings of a little swallow
I would follow my false-hearted sweetheart.......

The style and content say 18th century London broadside.

Any help appreciated, Q, Mick P, Rozza, Martin R, Joe, MikeGM?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jul 14 - 03:35 PM

Nothing yet, but I'm intrigued. All I can find is this (click) and a children's book titled Little Willie the Sailor-Boy, 1851 - which also intrigues me.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 14 - 05:06 PM

It's times like this when a motif index for ballads as an Access file would be very handy.

Willie-sailor-parental opposition-disguise-letter-Bedlam should bring it up.

Thanks for trying, Joe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 14 - 11:17 AM

Refresh and then drop.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jul 14 - 01:44 PM

Much flattered to appear in your list of those who might know quite where this variant fits into all the Dark-Eyed Sailors, Bleacher Lassies, Broken Tokens, et al. Is it the Bedlam/Long·Chain bit that bothers you, wondering how that wandered into the biznis? Or what? Can't quite follow exactly what you are looking for here, Steve.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 14 - 01:54 PM

Hi, Michael
A Roud number would be ideal, but a title would be helpful, or a broadside.

I've checked out all the 'Willie the sailor boy' titles, and Loyal Lovers, Roving Willies, and looked in all of the obvious sections in the likes of Huntington's Sam Henry Collection, Hugh Shields, Greig-Duncan, Laws. I haven't the time to go through my massive broadside collection, though there's a pretty good chance it's in there somewhere. I even have cards with lists of titles that would throw up letter writing ballads, and 'wings of a bird' types but these are not comprehensive. I need something more thorough.

Thanks for your interest.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jul 14 - 02:32 PM

Yes, there is a mixture of motifs here, sure enough. 'Wings of dove' indeed seems to have wandered in from elsewhere. & of course we all have our own mental associations that crop up: a long chain always takes my mind haring off to Another Man Done Gone; part of an entirely different referential set!...

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 14 - 06:49 AM

Problem partly solved. I put the same query on Tradsong Forum and Steve Roud replied personally. No wonder I couldn't find it. The title is 'The Inconstant Sailor and Distracted Maiden' or at least the first 2 verses are. The only known copy so far is in the Madden Collection with 14 stanzas. Although it's a Bedlam ballad the last 2 verses don't fit and are either from another ballad or both pieces derive from an earlier ballad, possibly one of those Dicey Marshall pieces of the mid 18thc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Willie the Sailor/Loyal Lover
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 14 - 08:15 AM

Just for the record Roud number is 2757 and we now have 4 versions, the London broadside c1790
Canadian, Creighton's FS from S New Brunswick p131
Irish, in the Joyce ms
a ms version from Robin Hood's Bay c1870 (title Billy and Sally). The evidence is mounting for earlier version(s). The language in the SNB version is somewhat flowery and the rhyme scheme is abab unlike the others suggesting that this version harks back to the earlier version. It also has extra material not in the broadside.


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