Polly Vaughn

Child apparently did not think enough of this one to include it in his canon; Robert Jaieson, a Scot who published his collection of ballads in 1806, characterized it as "one of the very lowest descriptions of vulgar modern English ballads." Our heroine is a modern relative of the swan-maiden or enchanged doe: maiden by day, swan by night, killed with a majic gun, reappearing as a spirit to clear her lover - this is the stuff of epic fairy tales. Our tune comes from Carrie Grover of Bethel, Maine; the text is from Harry Cox and A.L. Lloyd.

Come all you young fellows that carry a gun,
I'll have you come home by the light ofthe sun,
For young Jimmy was a fowler, and a-fowling alone,
When he shot his own true love in the room of a swan.

As Polly went walking, a rainstorm come on,
She hid under the bushes, the shower for to shun.
With her apron wrapped over her, he took her for a swan,
And his gun didn't miss, and it was Polly his own.

Then home rushed young Jimmy, with his dog and his gun,
Crying, "Uncle, dear Uncle, have you heard what I've done?
Oh, cursed be that gunsmith that made my old gun,
For I've shot my own true love, in the room of a swan."

Then out rushed bold uncle, with his locks hanging grey,
Crying, "Jimmy, dear Jimmy, don't you run away.
Don't you leave your own country till your trial come on,
For they never will hang you for the shooting of a swan."

Well, the funeral of Polly, it was a brave sight,
With four and twenty young men, and all dressed in white,
They took her to the graveyard and they laid her in the clay,
And they bid adieu to Polly, and all went away.

Now, the girls of this country, they're all glad, we know,
To see Polly Vaughn a-lying so low.
You could gather them into a mountain, you could plant them in a row,
And her beauty would shine amongst them like a fountain of snow.

Well, the trial wore on, and young Polly did appear,
Crying, "Uncle, dear Uncle, let Jimmy go clear,
For my apron was bound round me, and he took me for a swan,
And my poor heart lay a-bleeding all on the green ground."

© Golden Hind Music