The Golden Vanity
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John Renfro Davis

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Lyrics
An early version of this ballad appears circa 1635 as Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing In The Lowlands (Shewing how the famous Ship called the Sweet Trinity was taken by a false Gally & how it was again restored by the craft of a little Sea-boy, who sunk the Gally. The ballad was first lisenced in June-November 1685. The tune is about a famous ship The Sweet Trinity that was taken by a fake galley and was recovered. In the tune Raleigh is portrayed as arrogant, selfish and ungrateful. Quite a contrast to the courtier placing the cloak over the puddle for the Queen.

This ballad is Child Ballad #286 (The Sweet Trinity).

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

Although not generally considered a shanty, Stan Hugill sang it as a pump and capstan shanty.

There was a ship that sailed
all on the Lowland Sea,
and the name of our ship
was the Golden Vanity
and we feared she would be taken
by the Spanish enemy
as she sailed in the Lowland,
Lowland, low
as she sailed in the Lowland sea.

Then up stepped our cabin boy
and boldly outspoke he
and he said to our captain
"what would you give to me
If I would swim along side
of the Spanish enemy
and sink her in the Lowland,
Lowland, low
and sink her in the Lowland, sea

"Oh, I would give you silver
and I would give you gold,
And my own fairest daughter
your bonny bride shall be,
If you will swim along side
of the Spanish enemy
and sink her in the Lowland,
Lowland low
And sink her in the Lowland sea.

The the boy he made him read
And overboard sprang he
and he swam alongside
of the Spanish enemy
And with his brace and auger
in her side he bored holes three,
And he sunk her in the Lowland,
Lowland Low,
And he sunk her in the Lowland Sea.

Then quickly he swam back
to the cheering of the crew
But the captain would not heed him
for his promise he did rue,
and he scorned his poor entreatings
when loudly he did sue,
And he left him in the Lowland,
Lowland, Low
And he left him in the Lowland Sea.

Then quickly he swam round
to the port side
And up to his messmates
full bitterly he cried,
"Oh, messmates, draw 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."

Then his messmates drew him up,
But on the deck he died,
And they stitched him in his hammock
Which was so fair and wide,
And they lowered him overboard
And he drifted with the tide,
And he sank in the Lowland,
Lowland, low
And he sank in the Lowland sea.
Related Links
From The Burl Ives Songbook
See Bibliography for full information.