PRETTY POLLY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • PRETTY POLLY
    “Pretty Polly”, “The Gosport Tragedy” or “The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter” is a traditional
    English-language folk song found both in the British Isles and in the Appalachian region
    of North America. The song is a murder ballad, telling of a young woman lured into the
    forest where she is killed and buried in a shallow grave. Many variants of the story have
    the villain as a ship’s carpenter who promises to marry Polly but murders her when she
    becomes pregnant. When he goes back to sea, he is haunted by her ghost, confesses to the
    murder, goes mad and dies.
    Oh Polly, Pretty Polly, come go along with me.
    Polly, Pretty Polly, come go along with me.
    Before we get married some pleasures to see.
    She got behind him and away they did go,
    She got behind him and away they did go,
    Over the hills and mountains to the valley below.
    He rode her over hills and valleys so deep.
    He rode her over hills and valleys so deep.
    Pretty Polly mistrusted and then began to weep.
    Oh Willie, Oh Willie, I’m afraid to of your ways.
    Willie, Oh Willie, I’m afraid of your ways.
    The way you’ve been acting, you’ll lead me astray.
    They went up a little farther, and what did they spy,
    They went up a little farther and what did they spy,
    A newly-dug grave, and a spade lying by.
    Oh Polly, Pretty Polly, your guess is about right.
    Polly, Pretty Polly, your guess is about right.
    I dug on your grave the best part of last night.
    She knelt down before him pleading for her life.
    She knelt down before him pleading for her life.
    Please let me be a single girl if I can’t be your wife.
    He stabbed her in the heart and her heart’s blood did flow.
    He stabbed her in the heart and her heart’s blood did flow.
    And into the grave Pretty Polly did go.
    He threw something over her and turned to go home,
    He threw something over her and turned to go home,
    Leaving nothing behind him, but the girl left to mourn.
     He went down to the jailhouse and what did he say?
    He went down to the jailhouse and what did he say.
    I killed Pretty Polly and tried to get away.
    Oh gentlemen and ladies, I bid you farewell.
    Oh gentlemen and ladies, I bid you farewell.
    For killing Pretty Polly my soul will go to hell.