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Versions of this song go back to the 18th century, when it was printed as “Fair Phoebe and her Dark-eyed Sailor”. It is a typical ‘broken token’ ballad with the lovers breaking a token or coin between them, to be joined together when the sailor/soldier returns from sea/the war. This is one of the most well-known of this genre, with versions appearing regularly on both sides of the Atlantic, even in recent times.