The Golden Vanity



This example of "The Golden Vanity" is performed by Mary Smith
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

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Background notes

According to Hugill (in Shanties of the Seven Seas), this song appears to be based on  the seventeenth century ballad called Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Lowlands. Although it's not always considered a sea shanty, Hugill cites it as a capstan.  Hugill lists 5 additional verses, but the story is still the same -- just more detailed. 

Oh there was a ship that sailed, all across the lowland sea
[There was a lofty ship, and they put her out to sea]
And the name of the ship was the Golden Vanity 
And we feared she would be taken by the Spanish enemy
And they'd sink her in the lowland, lo
They'd sink her in the lowland sea

Then boldly up spoke our little cabin boy, 
Saying: "What would you give me if the galley I destroy? 
If I sink her in the lowland, lowland low, 
If I sink her in the lowland sea." 

"A treasure chest of gold and silver I'll give to thee
And my own fairest daughter, thy bonnie bride shall be
If you'll swim along side the Spanish enemy 
And sink her in the lowland, lowland low 
If you'll sink them in the lowland sea." 

So, the boy he made ready, and overboard sprang he, 
And he swam to the side of the Spanish  enemy 
And with his brace and auger, in her side he bored holes three
And sank her in the lowland, lowland lo
He sank her in the lowland sea

Then the boy, he did swim back, to the cheering of the crew
But the captain would not heed him, for his promise he did rue
He scorned his sad entreaties, though loudly he did suit
And he left him in the lowland, lowland lo
He left him in the lowland sea

Then the boy he turned round and swam to the port side
And up unto his messmates, full bitterly he cried,
Saying "Messmates, pull me up for I'm drifting with the tide,
And I'm sinking in the lowland, lowland low 
I'm sinking in the lowland sea. "

Well his messmates pulled him up but on the deck he died
And they placed him in his hammock, which was so fair and wide
And they lowered him down, and over the port side
And he sank into the lowland, lo
He sank into the lowland sea