Golden Vanity

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"The Golden Vanity" is Child Ballad 286. The first surviving version, about 1635, was "Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing In The Lowlands,Shewing how the famous Ship called the Sweet Trinity was taken by a false Gally & how it was again restored by the craft of a little Sea-boy, who sunk the Gally".

lyrics

There was a gallant ship that sailed along the sea,
And the name of the ship was the Golden Vanity.
And she was held in chase by the Spanish enemy,
As she sailed along the lowlands, lowlands, low, she sailed along the lowland sea.

As the sun began to rise, the clouds commenced to glow.
The enemy was there, just more than a stone's throw.
It looked like she'd be captured, when the wind it ceased to blow.
They were becalmed in the lowlands, lowlands, low, becalmed in the lowland sea.

Then up spoke the cabin boy, and boldly out spoke he,
And he said to the captain, “What would you give to me,
If I swam along side of the Spanish enemy,
And sank her in the lowlands, lowlands, low, I sank her in the lowland sea?”

“Oh, I will give you silver, and gold I'll give to thee,
And my own fair young daughter your bonnie bride shall be,
If you swim along side of the Spanish enemy,
And sink her in the lowlands, lowlands, low, if you sink her in the lowland sea.”

So the boy bared his breast and he plunged into the tide.
He swam until he came to the rascal pirate's side;
He climbed on board, he went below, by none was he espied,
To sink 'em in the lowlands, lowlands, low, to sink 'em in the lowland sea.

He bore her with his auger, he bore her once or twice,
The water gushed like fountains, it was oh, so very nice.
As he let the water in, he jumped off with the mice
And he sank 'em in the lowlands, lowlands, low, he sank 'em in the lowland sea.

Then quickly he swam back to the cheering of the crew,
But the captain would not heed him, for his promise he did rue,
And around the boat he swam, for his choices there were few,
And he swam around the lowlands, lowlands, low, he swam around the lowland sea.

So then the cabin boy he swam unto the larboard side
Saying, “Captain, take me up for in the sea I can't abide.”
“The riches you'll not have nor you'll claim my child as bride,
And I'll sink you in the lowlands, lowlands, low, I'll sink you in the lowland sea.”

So then the cabin boy he turned, and swam to the starboard side,
And up unto his messmates full bitterly he cried,
“Messmates, draw me up, for I'm drifting with the tide,
And I'm sinking in the lowlands, lowlands, low, I'm sinking in the lowland sea.”

They took him up so quickly but when on the deck, he died,
They sewed him in his hammock that was so strong and wide.
They said a short prayer over him and dropped him in the tide
And they sailed from the lowlands, lowlands low, they sailed from the lowland sea.

Well here's a curse onto the Captain wherever he may be
For breaking with his word to escape the enemy,
For killing that poor boy and ignoring his last plea.
He drowned him in the lowlands, lowlands, low, he drowned him in the lowland sea.

credits

from Live Bait, released November 13, 2015

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SaltyPaws Green Cove Springs, Florida

When you think of wandering minstrels, do you ever think they might live on a boat? SaltyPaws is a sailing acoustic duo, living aboard their catamaran, sailing and singing the Atlantic eastern seaboard. You'll hear guitar and 5 string banjo, spiced with harmonica and concertina. Wherever the boat is in port, you'll find Bentley and Jim joining a jam, at an open mic, or busking a street corner. ... more

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