Cruel Ship's Carpenter
I found this song in a book titled 80 English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians collected by Cecil Sharp & Maud Karpeles. The same book was published in the USA as 80 Appalachian Folk Songs. I actually ended up with copies of both the British and the US editions of the book, bought in different second hand book shops! Although the content is identical, I have kept both.
The book contained both words and tune and I transcribed the tune into my computer and worked out the chords from there. Afterwards when I checked I found chords had been provided in the book. I have kept with my own set of chords which are much sparser than those in the book. The melody is in the Dorian mode and I think it could almost be sung over a Gm chord throughout. In fact, I added a G-D drone from a shruti box after recording the song.
You can hear my version on You Tube.
Chords used in this song
O [Gm] Polly, O Polly, O [F] will you a[Gm]gree
O Will you agree and get [F] married to [Gm] me?
O [C7] William, O [Gm] William, that just cannot be
For [Gm] I am too young to get [F] married to [Gm] thee
O Polly, O Polly, if you will agree
Before we get married, some pleasure we’ll see.
He led her o’er mountains and valleys so deep
Till at length pretty Polly began for to weep
O William, O William, you lead me astray
On purpose my innocent heart to betray.
O Polly, O Polly, I guess you spoke right
For I was a-digging your grave last night
She wrapped her arms round him without any fear,
O How can you kill the girl that you love dear?
O Polly, O Polly, we’ve no time to stand.
And instantly drew a sharp knife in his hand.
He piercéd her heart and the blood it did flow,
And into her grave her fair body did throw.
He covered her up and away he did go.
He left no one but small birds to make their sad moan.
He boarded his ship on the salt sea so wide
And swore by his maker he’d see the far side.
Whilst he was a sailing in his heart’s content
The ship sprung a leak, to the bottom she went.
Whilst he was a lying in his sad surprise
He saw pretty Polly come before his eyes.
O William, O William, you’ve no time to stay;
[N.C.] There’s a debt to the devil that [F] you’re bound to [Gm] pay.
N.C. = No Chord (sing this unaccompanied)