Modern Street Ballads


On a summer’s morn the day was dawning,
Down by the pleasant river side,
I saw a brisk and lovely maiden,
And a youth called “England’s Pride”!
He was a tight and smart young sailor,
Tears from his eyes did fall like rain,
Saying, adieu, my lovely Emma,
I’m going to plough the raging main.

Said Emma, Stay a little longer,
Stay at home with your true love,
But, if you enter, I will venture,
I swear by all the powers above!
I’ll venture with my lovely Henry,
Perhaps great honour I may attain,
She cried, I’ll enter and boldly venture
With Henry on the raging main.

Cried Henry,—Love, don’t be distracted.
Perhaps you may be cast away,
’Tis for that reason, cried young Emma,
That behind I will not stay.
I’ll dress myself in man’s apparel,
So, dearest Henry, don’t complain,
In jacket blue, and tarry trousers,
I will plough the raging main.

Then on board the brig Eliza,
Henry and his Emma went;
She did her duty like a sailor,
And with her lover was content.
Her pretty hands, once soft as velvet,
With pitch and tar appeared in pain,
Though her hands were soft, she went aloft,
And boldly ploughed the raging main.

The Eliza brig was bound for India,
And ‘ere she had three weeks set sail,
From land, or light, one stormy night,
It blew a bitter, and heavy gale.
Undaunted, up aloft went Emma,
‘Midst thunder, lightning, wind and rain,
With courage true, in a blue jacket,
Did Emma plough the raging main.

Twelve hours long the tempest lasted,
At length quite calm it did appear,
And they proceeded on their voyage,
Emma, and her true love dear.
When just two years they’d been sailing,
To England they returned again,
And no one did suspect young Emma,
Ploughing on the watery main.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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