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To Holland we were Bound

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Alternative title: Valiant Sailor, The

Place Collected: Cerney Wick
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 811

This song has appeared under various titles, such as The Valiant Soldier or Polly on the Shore.  It is said to date from a mid-18th century song The Irish Boy’s Garland.  The Sussex singer George “Pop” Maynard had a version which has become well-known in the folk revival.  Our Gloucestershire version only tells part of the story.  A fuller text from Sussex has:

Come all you wild young men
And a warning take by me,
Never to lead your single life astray
And into no bad company.

As I myself have a-done,
It being in the merry month of May,
When I was pressed by a sea-captain
On board a man-o-war I was sent.

Now we sailed on the ocean so wide
And our bonny, bonny flag we let fly.
Let every man stand true to his guns
For the Lord knows who must die.

And our captain was wounded full sore
And so were the rest of his men.
Our main mast rigging was scattered on the deck
So that we were obliged to give in.

And the decks were all spattered with blood
And so loudly the cannons did roar;
And thousands of times have I wished myself at home
And all along with my Polly on the shore.

She’s a tall and a slender girl,
She’s a dark and a-roving eye,
But here am I lie a-bleeding on the deck
And for her sweet sake I shall die.

So farewell to me parents and me friends,
Farethewell, my dear Polly too.
I never should have crossed this salt sea so wide
If I had have been ruled by her.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 12 April 2016