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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Boy in Blue'


Verse 1: 'Cheer up, cheer up, my mother dear, / O, why do you sit and weep? / Do you think that He who guides me here / Forsakes me on the deep? / Let hope and faith illume glance / That sees the bark set sail; / Look, look at her now and see her dance. / O, why do you turn so pale? / 'Tis an English ship and an English crew, / So mother be proud of your boy in blue.'

This song a version of 'The song of the sailor boy' written by Eliza Cook (1818-1889) is narrated by a young sailor reassuring his mother, whom he imagines is at home weeping over him. Ballads about servicemen and travellers were popular. The elements of danger and of seeing new world evoked by such songs probably held romantic appeal for many people. The line ''Tis an English ship and an English crew' suggests that the song originated in England, but the illustration, showing Glasgow's coat-of-arms, indicates that this broadside version may have been printed in Glagsow.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(60b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Boy in Blue'
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