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A Cornish Young Man

[ Roud 595 ; Ballad Index K132 ; trad.]

Cyril Tawney sang A Cornish Young Man on his 1970 Argo album A Mayflower Garland. He commented in his sleeve notes:

Not such a “Cornish” song as the title suggests, but a more generally distributed folk song whose first line is not always so specific. This version was sung to Cecil Sharp in April 1904 by Frederick Crossman of Huish Episcopi, Somerset.

Martin Carthy sang A Cornish Young Man in 1988 as a bonus track of his Right of Passage CD, but not on the original LP.

Danny Stradling sang this song as The Labouring Man's Daughter at the Golden Fleece in Stroud in the early 2000s. This recording was included in 2005 on the Musical Traditions CD Songs from the Golden Fleece. She commented in the accompanying booklet:

This song came from Lal Smith of Cassavene, Co Kerry. I turned some of the song around and made the final verse to finish the story off, and to suit my own predilection for what is fair on both sides.

Rubus sang Cornish Young Man in 2008 on their CD Nine Witch Knots. Emily Portman commented in their liner notes:

Here's a story about a man who goes in search of his dream woman and finds her, without the help of speed dating or the internet. Cecil Sharp collected this melody from a Mrs Harriet Young of West Chinnock, Somerset, just down the road from my hometown of Glastonbury. Though we never discover whether this Cornish lad's love is reciprocated I like to believe that they live happily ever after.

Andy Turner sang A Cornish Young Man as the January 22, 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in his blog:

Sometimes when I go to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library I am looking for something in particular. But recently I’ve taken just to browsing through the bound volumes of Cecil Sharp’s Folk Tunes and Folk Words. Somehow it can be quite a thrill to see some classic of the folk revival, as originally notated a hundred years or so ago, in Sharp’s hand. But even better when you come across an unusual variant of a song, or discover a song which you’ve never encountered before.

Such was the case with A Cornish Young Man, which Sharp noted down on April 11, 1904 from Fred Crossman of Huish Episcopi in Somerset. In the 1950s, Fred’s son—also Fred—has recorded singing a version of the same song by Peter Kennedy. But Mr Crossman Junior had learned it from another singer in the area and, funnily enough, had no recollection of the song having been in his father’s repertoire.

I have added three extra verses at the end of the song, taken from a ballad sheet in the Bodleian’s collection, titled The Outlandish Dream (which starts, potentially misleadingly, with the phrase “An Outlandish Knight”).

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings A Cornish Young Man

A Cornish young man he dreamed a dream
The most beautiful girl in the nation
No coucil he'll take but a journey he'd make
Into England to seek this fair creature

For seven long years he sought her all about
Till he came to the place where he met her
He opened the door and she stood in before
She's just some poor labouring man's daughter

Oh, I never saw you but once in my life
And that was a dream, love, lie by me
And now that I find you there's tears in my eyes
And I hope that you never deny me

Oh, what is the matter, young man, she replied
That you seem so afraid of denial
Although I am poor, I will never be whore
So put me not under no trial

No whore should you be, no any such thing
So take this sweet kiss as a token
For love, oh my dear, is a stone in a sling
And it's hard to believe when its spoken

Oh, take up this ring and a guinea in gold
And between us never let it be broken
For love, oh my dear, is a stone in a sling
And it's hard to believe till its spoken

Danny Stradling sings The Labouring Man's Daughter

In a far away land I beheld in a dream
And I dreamed of the fairest young creature.
Oh but now and since I've dreamed of those dark rolling eyes
Sure, I won't know content 'til I find her.

I saddled up me horse, many towns did I cross,
Many miles did I go in one hour.
'Til I came to the door where she stood on the floor
And she being but a labouring man's daughter.

“I have seen you before, love, only once in my life
And it was in a dream that I saw you.
Oh, but now and since I've seen those two dark rolling eyes,
Sure, I hope that you'll never deny me.”

“Deny you”, said she, “how could that come to be,
And you being so highly above me.
Oh, but just 'cos I'm poor, you don't think me a fool,
And you don't put me under a trial.”

“Oh, love it is a thing that just hangs like a string,
And a string that is easily broken.
Oh, but you can be sure that to you I'll be true,
And you take this gold ring as a token.”

“I don't want your guinea gold ring no nor any such a thing,
It's more fitting a lady should wear it.
Nor I won't take your store though I'm lowly and poor,
I won't bring no such scorn to my station.”

So he turned on his heel; he bade her farewell,
“Faretheewell to you, labouring man's daughter.”

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Reinhard Zierke