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Lyr Add: Pretty Polly (#311)

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)
Lyr Req:Pretty Polly (from The Dillards) (8)
pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter? (14)
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 Req: Little Molly / Pretty Polly / etc. (5)
Info Req: Polly's Love (Waterson-Carthy) (6)


Abby Sale 02 Oct 01 - 03:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Oct 01 - 04:14 PM
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Subject: The Ghost Song (#311)^^^
From: Abby Sale
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 03:22 PM


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

DT #311

THE GHOST SONG^^^

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.
 
AJS


    Abby's post was added to the Digital Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Pretty Polly (#311)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 04:14 PM

I had intended to post a list of links last time there was a discussion of this song, but evidently didn't get around to it. Here, then:

In the Forum:

Info Req: Polly's Love  Text as found by Jim Eldon in Yorkshire, and recorded by Waterson-Carthy.
Lyr Req: Pretty Polly / lost verse  Two unattributed texts, presumably American.

In the DT:

THE CRUEL SHIP'S CARPENTER  Described as "transcribed from the singing of Mike Waterson"; with tune.
PRETTY POLLY (2)  From Dock Boggs, with tune.
THE SHIP'S CARPENTER  from Leo Spoencer, Canada, 1962. With tune.

There are two main entries at  The Traditional Ballad Index

Cruel Ship's Carpenter, The (The Gosport Tragedy; Pretty Polly) [Laws P36A/B]
Pretty Polly (II) [cf. Laws P36]

Several examples can be seen, and heard, at the  Max Hunter Folk Song Collection

Pretty Polly Come Go Along With Me  As sung by Ollie Gilbert, Mountain View, Arkansas on June 25, 1969.
Pretty Polly  As sung by Sara Jo Bell, Harrison, Arkansas on August 25, 1969 .
Pretty Polly  As sung by Harrison Burnett, Fayetteville, Arkansas on August 18, 1960.
Molly Girl  As sung by Mrs. Ed Newton, Gainesville, Missouri on June 10, 1958.

At  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The Gosport Tragedy or, The Perjured Ship-Carpenter  No date. Printed and Sold at the Printing Office in Stonecutter Street, Fleet Market .
The Gosport Tragedy or, The Perjured Ship Carpenter.  Printed between 1797 and 1846 by J. Turner, High Street, Coventry.

There are several 19th century broadside examples of the later version; they vary very little. Here is one:

Polly's love, or The cruel ship carpenter.  Printed between 1819 and 1844 by J. Pitts, Toy & Marble Warehouse 6, Great St.. Andrew Street, Seven Dials, London.

These are large images.


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