Flanders Shore, The
DESCRIPTION: A plowman loves his employer's daughter. He tells the farmer who "lock'd her up in a room so high." The plowman sails to Flanders, always thinking of her. He returns. Her father says, "My daughter is dead ... all for sake of loving thee"
EARLIEST DATE: 1683-1696 (Pepys 4.72 dating estimated by Malcolm Douglas; see note below)
LONG DESCRIPTION: A plowman works for a farmer seven years. All that time he loved his employer's daughter. He tells the farmer who "lock'd her up in a room so high" The plowman went "to my love's chamber door where oft-times I had been before" and tells her he is sailing away. The plowman "sailed for fair Flander's shore" [to war?] always thinking of her. Eventually he returns to England. He meets her father who tells him, "My daughter is dead ... all for sake of loving thee." An incomplete(?) warning follows to "all young men who a courting go who never made the bells to ring, Go no more into shady groves for to hear the sweet nightingale sing."
KEYWORDS: love parting return separation travel death father
1688-1697 - War of the League of Augsburg (source: "Nine Years' War" in Wikipedia); for a Flanders reference see 1693 "Battle of Landen" (source: "Battle of Landen" in Wikipedia)
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Bord))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lyle-Crawfurd2 90, "The Flanders Shore"; Lyle-Crawfurd2, pp. 187-189, "The Ploughman's Love to the Farmer's Daughter" (2 texts)
ADDITIONAL: Lucy E. Broadwood, Frank Kidson, A.G. Gilchrist, H.E.D. Hammond and Ralph Vaughan Williams, "Miscellaneous Songs" in Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. III, No. 4 (1907), #38 pp. 130-131, "The Flandyke (?) Shore" (2 texts, 1 tune)
EngBdsdBA 21738, Pepys 4.72, "The Unnatural Mother" or "The Two Loyal Lovers' Fatal Overthrow" [many words illegible but see note below] ("When first of all I began for to Wooe I loved a Bonny Lass as my Life"), Philip Brooksby (London), no date, accessed 08 Dec 2013. [see note below]
cf. "Locks and Bolts" [Laws M13] (theme: girl locked away by father) and references there
NOTES: The description follows Lyle-Crawfurd2 pp. 187-189, "The Ploughman's Love to the Farmer's Daughter," from an undated[?] chapbook. In Lyle-Crawfurd2 the ending is no warning but a graveside statement by the girl's ghost that "ye'r nocht to answer for my death My faither did me slay."
Lyle-Crawfurd2, p. xxiii: "'The Flanders Shore' ... is a modernization of an earlier song. The related story which appears on a blackletter broadside in the Pepys Collection with the title 'The Unnatural Mother: or, The two Loyal Lovers Fatal Overthrow' apparently dates from the time of the war with Flanders in 1693."
In the other "girl locked away by father" ballads noted above -- excluding Andrew Lammie -- the ending is happy. In Andrew Lammie, where "her father locked the door at nicht, Laid up the keys fu canny" -- it's not clear that Annie is a prisoner.
For other unclear examples, in "Bonnie Glasgow Green" [GreigDuncan6 1130B], the girl's "mammy ... [ineffectively] locks the door and keeps the key"; in "The Shepherd Lad o' Rhynie" the girl's father "kept her under guard" or "under ground."
The "girl locked away by father" theme in Laws M10 is often missing and doesn't effect the plot. If included at all it is usually one line (broadside Bodleian 2806 b.11(51) and GreigDuncan6 1097A): "The lady was taken and in her chamber bound."
Note the Jacob-Rachel-Laban (Genesis 29.16-20) theme at the beginning of the ballad [(H317.1, "Seven years of service imposed on suitor"), Motif-Index of Folk-Literature revised and enlarged by Stith Thompson, (Bloomington, 1955)]. Thompson points out that the theme may occur in "Hind Horn," Child 17.D and 17.F, and "The Whummil Bore," Child 27. In those cases, just as in "The Flanders Shore," all we know is that the suitor was in service to the father for seven years and the daughter was his objective; there is no explicit contract, as in Jacob-Rachel-Leah. Child points out that the "Hind Horn" connection may have resulted from the importation of "The Whummil Bore" lines, which otherwise seem out of place.
[There are explicit references to the Jacob-Rachel-Leah-Laban situation in "The Beggar-Laddie" [Child 280], "Foolish and Young," and "The Maid of Croaghmore," See also "The Hireman Chiel." - RBW]
Also see the example of Greig-Duncan2 197A: the page-boy version of "The White Fisher" [Child 264].
Another Thompson H317.1 connection with English literature is to the 15th century romance of "The Squyr of Lowe Degre" in which the lady sets the term of seven years but the father gives another suitor permission to capture the squire if he tries to enter the lady's chamber [though speaking outside her chamber is allowed]. The squire sails off to foreign wars and returns. This story has some points of agreement with "The Flanders Shore," but ends happily [see John Edwin Wells, A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050-1400 (New Haven, 1926), #104 pp. 149-150; Walter Hoyt French and Charles Brockway Hale, editors, Middle English Metrical Romances (New York, 1930), pp. 719-755, "The Squire of Low Degree," especially ll. 5-6, 11-22, 91-266, 413-454].
[The following] comparison looks at five texts I have seen for "The Flanders Shore." The texts are in rough chronological order and, as it happens, each text has more lines than the text that follows. I don't take that at all to mean that a shorter, "later," text is necessarily derived from an older one of these five texts, though "Unnatural Mother" -- dating so closely to the time of William III in Flanders -- seems a good starting point for all the other texts.
-- "Unnatural Mother" (c.1690): (Pepys 4.72) which Malcolm Douglas estimates was printed 1683-1696 by Brooksby. We have another broadside printed by Brooksby dated 1671-1704 (see "The Farmer's Son of Devonshire" for another [War of the League of Augsburg] reference)
-- "Ploughman's Love" (1802): Lyle-Crawfurd2, pp. 187-189, "The Ploughman's Love to the Farmer's Daughter" printed 1802.
-- Lyle (1827): Lyle-Crawfurd2 90, "The Flanders Shore" collected 1827.
-- Sharp (1906): JFSS above as additional, collected 1906 by Cecil Sharp. (For a close version which adds Hammond's verse 1 as verse 3, see Bob Bray, "The Flanders Shore" on "Songs from the Golden Fleece: A Song Tradition Today," Musical Traditions MTCD335-6.)
-- Hammond (1906): JFSS above as additional, collected 1906 by H.E.D. Hammond. (For a very close version see Nic Jones, "The Flandyke Shore" on Nic Jones, "Penguin Eggs," Shanachie SHA-CD-79090 (1994 reissue of 1980 LP).)
-- The Hammond (1906) text is from Dorset and the Sharp (1906) text is from Somerton, both in the South.
-- "Unnatural Mother" (c.1690) has 72 lines. It shares 17 lines with "Ploughman's Love" (1802), [40 lines] 12 with Lyle (1827) [32 lines] and Sharp (1906) [22 lines, not counting 11 repetions] and 5 with Hammond (1906) [15 lines, not counting 5 repetions]. The description is close enough to the long description above, taken from "Ploughman's Love" (1802) but includes sections not found at all in the other texts: before her parents discover their love the singer says "she gave me her hand, with her heart and all"; after the mother locks her up he serenades his sweetheart at her window; then mother, "Her innocent Daughter she took straightway and bound her with Chains in a Dungeon deep"; after the singer arrives in Flanders he sees "youthful young lasses" who remind him of the girl he left behind; he returns to England [after the battle] "in order to see my true Love again"; after hearing of his sweetheart's death he "beat my Breast and tore my Hair," questions why her "unnatural Parents ... have Murder'd your Darling," and bids "Farewel to the World ... I'll lye down in the Grave with thee." "Unnatural Mother" differs from later texts in that the active parent is the mother. It has one set of lines carried into all other versions that seems to have caught listeners' fancy without explanation: in Flanders the singer shoots a bullet toward England and his true love.
-- "Ploughman's Love" (1802) has 23 of 40 lines not shared with "Unnatural Mother" (c.1690). Of those 23 lines 4 are shared with Lyle (1827) and 8 each with Sharp (1906) and Hammond (1906). In the lines carried forward, but not in "Unnatural Mother" (c.1690): the singer goes to his imprisoned sweetheart's door and tells her he is going to Flanders; after her death [but see Sharp (1906) and Hammond (1906)] he goes to her door where "sprung a light from my love's clothes just like the morning sun when rose." A warning, unique to "Ploughman's Love," is that young men who court but have not yet married, should avoid going to shady groves "to hear the sweet nightingale sing."
-- Lyle (1827) replaces the England of the other texts with Scotland. It has 16 unique lines, half of which are scattered throughout the text and don't change the story; in the remaining eight the singer goes to his sweetheart's grave and thinks he hears her absolve him of any guilt: "My father did me slay."
-- Hammond (1906) has a line not found in the other texts: the singer tells his sweetheart he will go to Flanders "never to return more" [and, as far as this story goes, never does return]. Sharp notes that "my version consists of four verses, the last two of which are more of less the same as the [Hammond (1906)] Dorset verses." The line about telling the sweetheart that he is going to Flanders is the main plot difference between the two texts.
-- Hammond (1906) and Sharp (1906) share one line not found in the other three texts: he meets the father "as I was walking on Flanders' shore." The description of Sharp (1906): the singer courts his sweetheart but her father discovers the courtship and locks his daughter "in a room so high"; he goes to her door and sees a light springing from her clothes; in Flanders he meets her father who tells that his daughter "has broke her heart all for the love of thee" and died; the singer shoots a bullet towards England "just where I thought my own true lover lay."
Hammond (1906) and Sharp (1906) are titled "The Flandyke (?) Shore," and Hammond says of his text, "The title Flandyke Shore which Mrs Notley gave, is doubtless a corruption of 'Flanders Shore,' and both Hammond's and Sharp's transcriptions use "Flanders" rather than "Flandyke"; Jones, copying Hammond (1906), restores "Flandyke" and Bray following Sharp (1906) uses "Flanders."
There is a superficial resemblance between ballads with the "girl locked away" theme and international tale type ATU 310, "The Maiden in the Tower" (e.g., Rapunzel) [see Hans-Jorg Uther, The Types of International Folktales, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2004]. In the tale the maiden is magically born and secluded to prevent discovery by any potential lover. In the ballads there is no magic and the lovers meet before the girl is secluded. - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.