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For I am a maid that's deep in love and I dare not once complain,
For I'm in search of my true love, and Johnny is his name,
Enquiring for the captain my passage to go free,
That I might find the lad I love while crossing the deep blue sea.

Well the ship it went on gaily and the wind it did blow fair
And when I reached Co-lumba's shore no danger did I fear
It is once I was a man on sea but a maid I am on shore,
So adieu, adieu sea captain bold, adieu for evermore.

O come back, come back my pretty Mollie, won't you come and marry me?
I have a handsome fortune and all I'll give to thee
Oh, its once I had my own true love and Johnny was his name
And until I find that lad I love I'll live and die a maid.

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Source: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1953

This was transcribed by Patrick Shuldham-Shaw from the singing of Mrs Costello of Birmingham. The timing is very irregular and is given in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1953, where it appears, without a time signature.

Three verses are given in the Journal, each with their own tune. The relevant entry is as follows:

For I am a Maid that's Deep in Love: this is something of a find too, though of humbler order. The Maid on the Shore is such a familiar song in north-east America that it is a wonder that its traces are so rare in the land of its birth. To the best of my knowledge, the only vestige of the song recovered on this side of the Atlantic is the single stanza entitled The Mermaid in Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music (and even there, the story of the song seems to be different from the American versions). The various Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Maine versions seem to be very much alike, and may relate to a broadsheet print. This present version is very fragmentary, of course, and is quite lacking in the central theme of the story (The Broomfield Hill theme, one might call it) of the girl outwitting the amorous captain. But it does contain what the north-eastern American versions usually miss, which is the motive of search for a lost lover. A Missouri version of the song begins: "There was a fair damsel all crossed in love, And deeply sunk in despair, O".

Mrs Costello's melody is more familiar as one of the Lowlands of Holland sets - A. L. L.

Roud: 231 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws: N12

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