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298 Indiana University Publications, Folklore Series
64 PRETTY POLLY
The fragments which follow derive from "The Gosport Tragedy, or The Perjured Ship Carpenter" of about the middle of the eighteenth century, probably via "Polly's Love, or The Cruel Ship Carpenter," a condensed version.
According to the "Polly's Love" version, Polly's lover, a ship carpenter, goes to sea after the murder, but the ship is unable to sail because of the presence of a murderer aboard- The captain suspects, but, like the others of the crew, William protests his innocence. Polly's ghost then tears him to pieces. In the longer "Gosport Tragedy" the ghost appears before the sailing of the ship, and causes the murderer to die raving.
For other American and English texts, see Ashton, Real Sailor-Songs, p. 86; Ashton, A Century of Ballads, p. 101; Campbell and Sharp, No. 39; Cox, p. 308; Greenleaf and Mansfield, p. 120; Journal, XX, 262; XLII, 276; XLIV, 108; Mackenzie, Ballads, p. 55; Scarborough, Song Catcher, p. 128; Sharp and Marson, Folk-Songs from Somerset, IV, 8; Wyman and Brock-way, p. 79; JFSS, 1,172; Cox, Traditional Ballads, pp. 60, 62, 63; Cambiaire, East Tennessee and Western Virginia Mountain Ballads, p. 74; Henry, Folk-Songs from the Soutfurn Highlands, p. 229; Henry, Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians, p. 53.
"Pretty Polly." Contributed by Mr. Elmo Davis. Obtained from his grandmother, Mrs. William Davis, of Oakland City, Indiana. January 8, 1935.
1. "Pretty Polly, pretty Polly, come go with me,
Before we get married, some friends to see; Pretty Polly, pretty Polly, come go with me,
Before we get married, some friends to see/'
2. They rode o'er hills and valleys so deep;
At last pretty Polly began to weep. They rode o'er hills and valleys so deep; At last pretty Polly began to weep*
8. They rode a piece further to see what they could spy; They saw a grave dug and a spade lying nigh. They rode a piece further to see what they could spy; They saw a grave dug and a spade lying nigh.