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It's of a damsel both fair and handsome,
These lines are true, as I've been told.
Near the banks of Shannon, in a lofty mansion,
Her father garnered great stores of gold.
Her hair was bloack as a raven's feather,
Her form and features oh! describe who can?
But still, it's a folly belongs to Nature:
She fell in love with a servant man.

As those two lovers were fondly talking,
Her father heard them, and near them drew;
As those to lovers were fondly talking,
In anger home her father flew;
To build a dungeon was his intention,
To part true love he contrived a plan,
He swore an oath by all his mansion
He'd part that fair one from her servant-man.

So he built a dungeon with bricks and mortar,
With a flight of steps, for it was underground;
The food he gave her was bread and water,
The only comfort for her was found.
Three times a day he cruelly beat her,
Unto her father she thus began:
"If I've transgressed, my own dear father,
I will lie and die for my servant-man."

Young Edwin found her habitation,
It was secured by an iron door.
He vowed, in spite of all the nation
He would gain her freedom, or rest no more.
So, at his leisure, he tolied with pleasure
To gain the freedom of Mary Ann;
And when he had found out his treasure
She cried "My faithful young servant-man!"

Said Edwin "Now I've found my treasure
I will be true to you likewise,
And for your sake I will face your father;
To see me here it will him surprise".
When her father brought her bread and water
To call his daughter he then began,
Said Edwin "Enter, I've freed your daughter,
I will suffer - your servant-man!"

When her father found that she was vanished,
The like a lion he did roar,
Saying, "From Ireland you shall be banished,
And with my sword I will spill your gore!"
"Agreed," said Edwin, "I freed your daughter,
I freed your daughter do all you can;
But forgive your treasure, I'll die with pleasure
For the one at fault is your servant-man."

When her father found him so tender-hearted,
Then down he fell on the dungeon floor,
Saying that love should never be parted,
Since love can enter an iron door.
So soon they're one, to be parted never,
And roll in riches this young couple can,
This fair young lady is blessed with pleasure,
Contented with her young servant-man.

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Source: Broadwood, L, 1908, English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, Boosey

Lucy Braodwood wrote:

In Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland (1840), there is a tune communicated by Petrie, called "A Sailor wooed a Farmer's Daughter," which Sir C. V. Stanford has included (with modern words), in Songs of Old Ireland.It has some likeness to the air of "The Young Servant Man," though Sir C. V. Stanford considers the latter to be distinctly English in character. Compare "You Maidens Pretty" in Songs of the West. Catnach, and other printers, published a very similar ballad, sometimes under the title of "The Cruel Father and Affectionate Lover." For interesting variants see Journal of the Folk Song Society,Nos. 4, 7, and 10.The time is usually irregular, and not often so well defined as in the version here given.

Roud: 539 (Search Roud index at VWML)

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