MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Betsy Bay
Jack Knight NFLD 1 Tape 13A Track 6
Pouch Cove Audio:
Ballad / lovers separated / parental disapproval Musical notation available

Betsy Bay was a lady gay
She had a nice and a winning way
A waiting maid bound down to be
She was sent there for some higher degree

Betsy's mistress has one only son
Whom Betsy placed her own heart upon
With sparkling eye and with beauty fair
He says to Betsy, "I love you dear.

"I love you dearer than my life
And I do intend to make you my wife."

Betsy's mistress being in the next room
And heard the words that came from her son
"You may talk away but it's all in vain
For I'll have Betsy to cross the main."

Early next morning, oh, young Betsy arose
And dressed herself in her best clothes
Being of the ship that lay in the town
To a slaving Virginia young Betsy bound

Three months after her mistress returned
Her son was dressed in his uniform
"You're welcome home, kind old mother," he said
"But where is Betsy awaiting me?"

"Betsy my boy she's far o'er the main
And never will you see her again.
I'd rather see you dead and in your grave
Than to marry Betsy a waiting maid."

A short while after her son took abed
No harp nor music could make him glad
And in his dreams he would loudly cry,
"I love you Betsy, for you I'll die."

A short while after her son lay dead
She wrung her wrung hands and she tore her hair
"If I could see my son brave again,"
I'd send for Betsy my waiting maid."


Notes

Sources: Laws M20 ("Betsy is a Beauty Fair"); Randolph 48; Roud 156; "Betsy Baker" (Roud 1288) has a similar theme of a lovesick man;

History:

Text notes: A man dies of heartbreak when his mother sends his love (Betsy) away.

Tune notes: The melody is in triple metre with the form "abb'c." The seventh degree of the scale is sometimes variably (flat or natural).

All material on this webpage is copyright © 2004, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland. No unauthorized copying or use is permitted. For more information, follow this link.