Mudcat Café message #1972464 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #98805   Message #1972464
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
19-Feb-07 - 10:04 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Newfoundland Mermaid song
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Newfoundland Mermaid song
De Marsan of New York issued 'The Sailor Boy's Bride' on a broadside around 1860; a copy can be seen at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The sailor boy's bride

No mermaids, though; these seem uncommon in the small number of American and Canadian variants I've seen (they do turn up in a Scottish variant in the Greig-Duncan collection, so perhaps there was another broadside issue with additional verses). It seems to be a homegrown American product, and it may be no older than the De Marsan printing; but it's an effective pastiche, or, as Helen Hartness Flanders put it (New Green Mountain Songster, 1939, 231-2):

"Though not an old song ... 'The Sailor's Bride' is constructed both as to text and melody of left-over material which may be traced back through related songs to the close of the seventeenth century."

It isn't obvious what Peacock meant when he described his Newfoundland version as a "variant of The Young Bride's Lament". He may have had either 'Lowlands of Holland' or 'Sailor's Life' in mind; but there is really no connection between these and the song here, except that they both feature people getting drowned at sea (and the former sometimes begins "It was early early in the spring").

Though the links at the top of this page are all to completely unrelated songs that just happen to mention mermaids, there is a set in the DT, with tune, incidentally:

THE SAILOR AND HIS BRIDE from Randolph, Ozark Folksongs. It has acquired a verse from the 'Died for Love' family somewhere along the way. No mermaids.

So far as other songs are concerned, you'll perhaps find searching a bit more productive if you don't assume that all songs found in Newfoundland must somehow be Irish! Although some certainly have their origins there, a great many do not.