The Golden Vanity

Melody -

O I have a ship in the North Country,
And she goes by the name of the Golden Vanity,
And I fear she will be taken by some Turkish galilee
As she sails along the Lowlands low.

Lowlands, Lowlands,
As she sails along the Lowlands low.

To the Captain then upspake the little cabin boy,
He said: 'What will you give me if the galley I destroy -
The Turkish galilee, if no more it shall annoy,
As we sail in the Lowlands low?"

"Of silver and gold I will give you a store;
And rny pretty little daughter that lives on the shore,
Of treasure and of fee as well, I'll give thee galore,
As we sail along the Lowlands low."

The boy bared his breast and straightaway leapt in,
And he held in his hand an auger sharp and thin,
And he swam until he came to the Turkish galleon,
As she lay in the Lowlands low.

And some were playing cards and some were playing dice,
He bored three holes once and he bored three holes twice.
The water all flowed in and it dazzled in their eyes,
As she sank in the Lowlands low.

Then he turned himself around and back again swam he
'Til he came to the side of the Golden Vanity
But the Captain would not heed, for his daughter he did need
And he left him in the Lowlands low

Then the cabin boy swam round to the starboard side,
Saying "Messmates, take me up, for I'm drifting with the tide."
Well his shipmates brought him out, but upon the deck he died
As they sailed in the Lowlands low.

And they laid him on the deck as he closed his eyes and died
And they wrapped him in his blanket that was so soft and wide
And they cast him overboard and he drifted with the tide
And he sank beneath the Lowlands low

The date of this ballad is uncertain but it is thought to be about 1635. At that time the Barbary pirates were at the height of their power in the Mediterranean and a great threat to shipping. Many versions of the melody exist but there are surprisingly few variants of the words of this song - although it often appears under its alternative title - 'Lowlands Low'. As long as people enjoy a good rousing chorus 'The Golden Vanity' is assured of its popularity.

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