The Young and Single Sailor

Bob Lewis: On Autumn Harvest ah09: Bob Lewis: Drive Sorrows Away. Recorded at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2009.

The song is one of a class of songs known as broken-token songs. Many traditional singers both sides of the Atlantic have versions in their repertoire. A young maid out walking meets a sailor. He tries to entice her and offers marriage. She tells him that she has a true love who had been away to sea for seven years. He puts his hand in his pocket and takes out a ring that they had broken between them. She then realises he is her long lost lover, they kiss and are soon married. Bob remembers it being sung at The Cherry Tree at Copthorne where Pop Maynard used to sing and the gang that used to go there at that time all used to join in (Roud 264; GD 5.1038; Laws N42).

1: A fair maid walking all in her garden,
A brisk young sailor she chanced to spy;
He steppèd up to her thinking for to view her,
And he says, “Fair maid, can you fancy I?”
He stepped up to her thinking for to view her,
And he says, “Fair maid, can you fancy I?”

2: “You appears to be some young man of honour,
Some young man of honour you appears to be;
How can you impose on a poor young woman,
Who is not fitting your servant to be?”

3: “If you are not fit for to be my servant,
I have a sincere regard for thee;
I will marry you and make you my lady,
And you shall have servants to wait on thee.”

4: “I have a true love all of my own,
And for seven long years he’s been gone to sea;
If it’s seven more years I will wait for him,
And if he’s alive he will wait for me.”

5: “Now seven long years makes an alteration,
He might be either dead or drowned;
If he’s alive I do love him dearly,
And if he’s dead he’s in glory crowned.”

6: He put his hand all in his pocket,
His fingers being both long and small,
Pulled out the ring that they broke between them,
Soon as she see it she down did fall.

7: He picked he up all in his arms,
And gave her kisses by one, two by three;
Saying, “I’m your young and your single sailor,
I have now returned for to marry thee.”

8: Soon as she see her true love was loyal,
In wedlock chains they both were bound;
They live together and adore each other,
In London city they do there dwell.

c p 2010 Autumn Harvest :