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Broadside ballad entitled 'My Nancy'


This ballad begins: 'Tho' I'm laid up in port, and not outward bound, / In my upper works nothing is ailing; / My rudder and compass are both safe and sound, / And when called on I'm ready for sailing.' A note below the title states that 'Copies of this popular song can always be had in the Poet's Box', (probably Glasgow) and that the ballad should be sung to an original tune. The sheet was printed on Saturday the 6th of August, 1870, and cost one penny.

Written from the viewpoint of a sailor who is home on shore leave, this romantic ballad is a loving celebration of the many virtues of Nancy, the sailor's wife. The faithful sailor proceeds to describe all the hardships that he encounters while away on a voyage, but always resolves these seas of troubles by thinking about Nancy, and the love that they share with one another. Underneath the ballad, there is an interesting list of other songs that are available for purchase, and detailed information about the procedure for buying these songs.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
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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Date of publication: 1870   shelfmark: L.C.1269(170a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'My Nancy'
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