> June Tabor > Songs > Young Allan

Young Allan

[ Roud 242 ; Child 245 ; G/D 2:326 ; Ballad Index C245 ; trad.]

Gavin Greig collected Young Allan in 1914 from Miss Bell Robertson who got it from her mother. This version is printed in Alexander Keith's 1925 book of Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs collected in Aberdeenshire by Greig.

June Tabor sang Young Allan unaccompanied in a BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session that was recorded on August 26, 1978 and broadcast on my 18th birthday on September 13, 1976. This recording was included in 1998 on her BBC CD On Air. Her version song is a composition of Child 245C and Child 245A; some verses are quite similar to those of Sir Patrick Spens.

Lyrics

Young Allan in Last Leaves … June Tabor sings Young Allan

When a’ the Hawks o Oxenford
Was drinkin at the wine,
There cam a reesin them amon
In a unseily time.

All the skippers in Scarsburgh
Sat drinking at the wine,
They fell to boasting one by one
Unlucky was the time.

Some they reesed the Hawk, the Hawk,
An’ some o them the Houn’,
An’ some o them their Comely Cog
That floated on the faem.

And some there praised their hawk, their hawk,
And some there praised their hound,
But Young Allan he praised his comely cog
That lay upon the strand.

Oot it spak an English knight,
An’ a prood word spak he:
“There’s nae a ship in Leve London
That’ll sail aboard wi me.”

“There's not a ship in Scarsburgh
Can sail along with mine,
Except it be the Burges Black
Or the Small Cordvine.

“There's not a one among you all
Can sail along with me
But the comely cog o Hecklandhawk.
And the Flower o Germanie
And the Black Snake o Leve London,
They all can outsail me.”

Then oot it spak a bonnie boy,
Steed by Young Allan’s knee:
“My master has a coal car[rier]
That’ll sail aboard wi thee.

“Then it's up and spoke a little wee boy:
So loud I hear you lie!
My master has a coal-carrier
Can take the wind from thee.

“She’ll sail ootower the leaf, the leaf,
An’ in under the lee,
An’ seven times intil a nicht
She’ll tak the win’ fae thee.”

“For she'll sail in at your foremast
And out at your fore-lee,
And nine times in a winter's night
She'll take the wind from thee.”

“I widna wad nae less wager
Nor twenty tuns o wine,
An’ syne as much gweed red scarlet
As wid cleathe the merrie men.”

And it's then they fell to wagering
Full fifty tuns of wine,
And aye as much o' the good black silk
Would clothe their ladies fine.

He to ship an’ he to ship,
An’ shippin made them boun’,
There was nae a squire in a’ the ships
Had will to weet their han’,
But I fear or a’ the play was ower,
They wat their golden ban’.

There was nae a squire in a’ the ships
Had will to weet their sheen,
But I fear or a’ the play was ower
Their hats was weet abeen.

Allan steed upo the shore,
Min’t him on ill an’ gweed,
“I winna go to ship,” he said,
“Till I say mess an’ dine,
An’ tak my leave o my ladie,
Go to my gweed ship syne.

“Eat an’ drink, my merry men a’,
Our gweed ship sails the morn.”
“Ochone, alas! my dear master,
It bodes a deadly storm.

“The streen I saw the new, new meen
An’ the aul meen in her arms:
Ochone, alas 1 my dear master,
It bodes a deadly storm.”

They hae sailed fae Monandav
Till Tysday o the nicht,
An’ they hae sailed fae Wednesday
Till Feersday vera rieht.

But they had not sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When through the side of the bonny ship
They saw the green walled sea.

An’ bonnie was the feather-beds
Was floatin on the faem,
But bonnier was the women’s sons
Was sinkin to the san’.

Then Young Allan he cried and he wrung his hands
For he knew not what to do.
“The wind is loud and the waves are proud,
We'll all sink in the sea!

“Is there nae a boy in my ship
Wid tak my helm in han’
Till I go up to my tapmast
An’ see gin I see lan’?”

“O where can I get a little wee boy
Will take my helm in hand?
And who will steer my bonny ship
And bring it safe to the land?

“I'll give him the half of all my gold
And a third part of my land,
And if he bring us safe ashore
I'll give him my daughter Ann.”

“Here am I a bonnie boy
Will tak your helm in han’,
But gin ye go up to yon tapmast,
I fear ye’ll never come doon.

“O here am I, the little wee boy
Will take your helm in hand,
And I will steer your bonny ship
And bring it safe to the land.”

“Come here, come here, my master dear,
See ye nae what I see ?
For through an’ through your comely cog
I see the green heowe sea,
An’ the Black Snake o Leve London,
I see her blawn by me.

“What wid ye gie, my master dear,
What wid ye gie to me,
That wi the help o my Maker
Wid bring ye safe fae sea? ”

“The half o the ship an’ the half o the gear
It’s I will gie to thee,
An’ my ae sister, Lady Maisry,
Your wedded wife to be.”

He’s taen up a feather-bed
An’ wrappit it in aroon,
An’ pick’t her weel an’ spared her not
An’ leet nae water in.

Take fifty ells of the canvas broad
And wrap it all around,
And as much of pitch and as much of tar
To make her hale and sound.

“Is there nae a boyin my ship
Will tak my helm in han’,
Till I go up to my tapmast
An’ see gin I see lan’?”

“Here am I a bonnie boy
Will tak your helm in han’
Till ye go up to your tapmast,
But master, stayna lang.”

The firstan shore that he did see
It was the towers o Lin,
The nextan shore that he did see
Was bonnie Aberdeen.

“Sail forth, sail forth, my comely cog,
Sail forth against the win’,
An’ the firstan shore that ye come till
Ye’se get a year’s rest in;
A firlot syne o gweed red gowd
’S be gien at your partin.”

“Spring up, spring up, my bonny ship
And bring us safe to land,
For every iron nail in you
With silver you shall have ten,
And its where you want an oaken bolt
I'll beat the red gold in.”

The ship she widna go aboot
Till she heard the heavy meed,
An’ syne she sprang oot thro’ the waves
As sparks go fae the gleed.

Now the ship she listened all the while,
And hearing of her hire
She sprang as fast out the salt salt sea
As sparks do from the fire.

The firstan shore that she cam till
Was bonnie Aberdeen,
An’ the young men lap upo the shore
Wi their low buckled sheen.

And the first land they come to,
It was bonny Aberdeen,
The pipes and drums did sweetly play
To welcome Young Allan in.

“What do ye think, my master dear,
What do ye think o me,
That wi the help o my Maker
Has brought ye safe fae sea ?”

“Oh bring to me the little wee boy
That took my helm in hand,
And who did steer my bonny ship
And bring it safe to the land.

“The half o the ship an’ the half o the gear,
It’s I will gie to thee,
An’ my ae sister, Lady Maisry,
Your wedded wife to be;
She may think hersel a happy woman
The day she does wed thee.”

“I'll give him the half of all my gold
And a third part of my land,
And since he brought us safe to shore
I'll give him my daughter Ann.”

“Oh here am I the little wee boy
That took your helm in hand,
Though I'll have none of your land or gold
I'll wed your daughter Ann.”

Forty ships went out that night,
Forty ships and five,
But none of one of them come back
But Young Allan alive.

Links and Acknowledgements

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: June Tabor's Young Allan (Child 245). Thanks to Roberto who posted his transcription there and to Garry Gillard for some corrections.