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One morning in the month of May
Down by a rolling river,
A jolly sailor I did stray,
When I beheld some lover
So carelessly along did stray
A picking of the daisies gay
So sweet she sang a roundelay
Just as the tide was a-flowing

Oh her dress it was as white as milk,
And her jewels did adorn her
Her shoes were made of the crimson silk
Just like some lady of honour.
Her cheeks were red, her eyes were brown,
Her hair in ringlets hanging down,
She'd a lovely brow without a frown,
Just as the tide was a-flowing

I made a bow and said - Fair maid
How came you here so early?
My heart by you it is betrayed
For I could love you dearly.
I am a sailor come from sea,
If you will accept of my company
To walk and view the fishes play
Just as the tide is a-flowing

No more we said - but on the way
We ganged along together
The small birds sang and the lambs did play
And pleasant was the weather
When we were weary we both sat down
Beneath a tree with the branches around
And what was done shall never be found
As long as the tide is a-flowing.

But as she lay upon the grass
Her colours they kept changing
Till she cried out and said - Alas!
Never let your mind be ranging
Here is twenty pounds I have in store,
Meet me when you will - there's plenty more,
For my jolly sailor I adore
Just as the tide is a-flowing

We both shook hands and off we steer
Jack Tar drinks rum and brandy
To keep his shipmates in good cheer
The lady's gold is handy
And along with some other pretty maid I will go
To a public house where the brandy do flow
Success to the maid that will do so
Just as the tide is a-flowing

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Source: Marrowbones, Ed Frank Purslow, EFDS, 1965

Collected from Walter Diment, Cheddington, Dorset. July 1906 by Hammond (D.570)
Not much published by the early folk song collectors (for the usual reasons) but evidently popular in the 19th century. Broadsides were issued by the usual suspects, and examples from Fortey and Such can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, along with

Just as the tide was flowing Printed between 1813 and 1838 by J. Catnach, Printer, 2, & 3, Monmouth-Court, 7 Dials [London]. Harding B 11(3634)

These are all very similar to Walter Diment's text. One that shows a little variation is

Tide is flowing Printed by R. Barr, at the Circulating Library, York Street, Leeds. [n.d.] Johnson Ballads 1837.

Cecil Sharp noted a full set in Somerset; again, very close to the broadsides.

Frank Purslow noted that the tune is a close relative of that known to Morris dancers as The Blue Eyed Stranger. An earlier form was used by Ramsay for his Corn Riggs are bon[n]y (1729). It seems first to have appeared as the tune for Thomas D'Urfey's song Sawny Will Never Be My Love Again, which he wrote for his play The Virtuous Wife; or, Good Luck at Last (1679). It subsequently appeared regularly as "A Scotch Tune" and the like, but this may simply reflect the subject-matter of the original song, rather than the source of its melody. No composer is known, but Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. II p. 618) thought it likely to have been written by Thomas Farmer, who wrote other pieces for D'Urfey's play.

The tune also shows strong similarities to Irish versions of The Parting Glass, and to another song, Sweet Cootehill Town (also called The Peacock). These appear to be much later than English and Scottish examples.

Roud: 1105 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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