Fare ye well, lovely Nancy

Leggi in italiano

000brgcfLover’s separation is a theme widespread in the english balladry and that of a sailor and a young maid it’s probably originated in the eighteenth century, as we find it in the illustrations of the time: some ballads dwell on the figure of Nancy in tears who die of heartbreak because she believes that the sailor has abandoned her.

THE SAILOR’S FAREWELL

A further version of the sailor’s farewell ballad comes from”Oxford Book of Sea Song” 1986 “that version was originally noted by Dr George Gardiner (text) and (probably) Charles Gamblin (tune) from George Lovett (born 1841) at Winchester, Hampshire. In January 1909, Ralph Vaughan Williams re-noted the melody because there was some doubt about the notation; it appears that he visited Mr Lovett and recorded his singing for later checking”.

A sailor bidding farewell from his weeping sweetheart 1790s

TEARS ON THE SHORE

Polly / Nancy is on the beach  to complain for having been abandoned by her sailor (who evidently left for the sea without marrying her).

There are many variations of the text, in this one we go back to the eighteenth century music
Baltimore Consort

FARE YE WELL, LOVELY NANCY
I
Fare ye well, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you.
I am bound for th’ East Indies
my course for to steer.
I know very well my long absence
will grieve you,
But, true love, I’ll be back
in the spring of the year(1).”
II
“Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me,
my dearest Johnny,
Oh, ‘tis not talk of leaving me
here all alone;
For it is your good company
that I do desire
I will sigh till l die
if l ne’er see you more.
III
In sailor’s apparel I’ll dress
and go with you,
ln the midst of all danger
your friend I will be;
And that is, my dear,
when the stormy wind’s blowing,
True love, I`ll be ready to reef your topsails.”
IV
“Your neat little fingers
strong cables can’t handle,
Your neat little feet
to the topmast can’t go;
Your delicate body
strong winds can’t endure.
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
to the seas do not go.”
V
Now Johnny is sailing
and Nancy bewailing;
The tears down her eyes
like torrents do flow.
Her gay golden hair
she’s continually tearing,
Saying, “I’ll sigh till I die
if l ne’er see you more”.
VI
Now all you young maidens
by me take a warning,
Never trust a sailor
or believe what they say.
First they will court you,
and then they will slight you;
They will leave you behind,
love, in grief and in pain.

NOTES
1) as sea ballad  Lovely on the Water the sailor’s farewell is framed in an opening stanza that describes the coming of spring

SAILOR’S LETTER

Johnny is about to send a letter to his sweetheart to swear his true love and renew the promise of marriage (but everyone knows what happened to sailor vow)

Solas from Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, 1997

ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
I
“Adieu, lovely Nancy,
for now I must leave you
To the far-off West Indies
I’m bound for to steer
But let my long journey
be of no trouble to you
For my love, I’ll return
in the course of a year”
II
“Talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Jimmy
Talk not of leaving me
here on the shore
You know very well
your long absence will grieve me
As you sail the wild ocean
where the wild billows roar
III
I’ll cut off my ringlets
all curly and yellow
I’ll dress in the coats
of a young cabin boy
And when we are out
on that dark, rolling ocean
I will always be near you,
my pride and my joy”
IV
“Your lily-white hands,
they could not handle the cables
Your lily-white feet
to the top mast could not go
And the cold winter storms, well,
you could not endure them
Stay at home, lovely Nancy,
where the wild winds won’t blow”
V
As Jimmy set a-sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears from her eyes
in great torrents did a-flow
As she stood on the beach,
oh her hands she was wringing
Crying, “Oh and alas,
will I e’er see you more?”
VI
As Jimmy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
they filled him with pride
He said, “Nancy, lovely Nancy,
if I had you here, love
How happy I’d be for
to make you my bride”
VII
So Jimmy wrote a letter
to his own lovely Nancy
Saying, “If you have proved constant, well, I will prove true”
Oh but Nancy was dying,
for her poor heart was broken
Oh the day that he left her,
forever he’d rue
VIII
Come all of you young maidens,
I pray, take a warning
And don’t trust a sailor boy
or any of his kind
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their love, it is tempestuous
as the wavering wind

HEART BREAKING

A melodramatic ending with sailor’s letter coming too late to the bedside of a dying Nancy.
Jarlath Henderson from Hearts Broken, Heads Turned, 2016 
Samplers, piano and an expressive voice for this young musician who won the BBC Young Folk Award in 2003.

FARE YE WELL, LOVELY NANCY
I
Fare thee well, lovely Nancy,
It’s now I must leave you,
To cross the main ocean
where the stormy winds blow,
let not my long journey
be of no trouble to you,
for you know I’ll be back
in the course of a year”
II
“Let’s talk not of leaving me here,
lovely Billy
Let’s talk not of leaving me
here all alone
for you know your long journey
at early will grieve me
stay at home lovely Billy
to the sea do not roar”
V-VI
As Billy went to sailing,
lovely Nancy stood a-wailing
The tears down her eyes
like fountains did flow
As Billy was a-walking
on the quays of Philadelphia
The thoughts of his true love,
still run throu his eyes
VII
So Billy wrote a letter
to his own true love Nancy
Saying, “If you prove constant,
then I will prove true”
Lovely Nancy on death bed
could not recover
when the news was brough to her
but his true love was death
VIII
So come on ye pretty fair maids,
and a warning take by me
care for a sailor or of his kind men
For first they will court you
and then they’ll deceive you
For their minds are imperfectual like the westerly wind

000brgcf

Ralph Vaughan Williams: LOVELY ON THE WATER
Cecil Sharp: LOVELY NANCY
english version: FARE YE WELL/ADIEU, LOVELY NANCY
english version: ADIEU SWEET LOVELY NANCY
american/irish version: ADIEU MY LOVELY NANCY
sea shanty: HOLY GROUND

LINK
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/farewellnancy.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27483
http://www.8notes.com/scores/4582.asp?ftype=gif

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