Jack the Jolly Tar (I) (Tarry Sailor) [Laws K40]

DESCRIPTION: Jack overhears a girl tell her lover that she will lower a string from her window to let him find her. Jack comes to her window early and enjoys the girl's charms until morning when she realizes the truth. Having had his romp, he returns gaily to his ship
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (Cecil Sharp collection)
KEYWORDS: sailor love trick sex bawdy humorous
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(South)) US(MW,Ro)
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Laws K40, "Jack the Jolly Tar (I)"
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 50, "Tarry Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 288-290, "Jack the Jolly Tar" (1 texts, 3 tunes)
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 38, "Jack in London City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lehr/Best-ComeAndIWillSingYou 63, "Jolly Jack Tar" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow-ChantyingAboardAmericanShips, pp. 168-169, "Do Me Ama" (1 text, 1 tune)
Grimes-StoriesFromTheAnneGrimesCollection, pp. 46-447, "The Substitute" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #54, "Jack and Nancy" (1 text)
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland2, pp. 82-86, "Jack, the Jolly Tar" (2 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Finger-FrontierBallads, pp. 16-17, "Doo Me Ama" (1 excerpt, 1 tune)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, pp. 54-55, "Jack the Jolly Tar" (1 text, 1 tune)
Butterworth/Dawney-PloughboysGlory, pp. 24-25, "Jack went up to London city" (1 text, 1 tune)
Copper-SongsAndSouthernBreezes, pp. 260-261, "The Squire's Lost Lady" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 84, "Jack the Jolly Tar" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 101-102, "Jack the Jolly Tar" (1 text)

Roud #511
Mrs. Alvina Coles, "Jack the Jolly Tar" (on PeacockCDROM)
George Maynard, "Jack the Jolly Tar-O" (on Maynard1)

Bodleian, Harding B 22(169)[some words illegible], "The Merchant's Courtship to the Brazier's Daughter," unknown, n.d.
cf. "Glasgerion" [Child 67] (theme)
cf. "The Butcher's Daughter" (theme: sex and disguise by darkness)
cf. "Kiss Me in the Dark" (theme: sex and disguise by darkness)
cf. "Jack Simpson the Sailor" (theme: sex and disguise by darkness)
The Merchant's Courtship to the Brazier's Daughter
NOTES [362 words]: In several versions, including [the Penguin text and the Copper text], the story ends: Jack offers to steal away quietly; the lady tells him not to stray too far for "I never will part from my jolly Jack Tar." - PJS
The first instance of this motif in English-language folklore appears to go back to none other than Shakespeare: according to a story in the diary of John Manningham, it came during a performance of Richard III.
A lady in the audience sent a note to Richard Burbage, who played Richard, inviting him to her bed. Shakespeare got wind of it, and he, rather than Burbage, enjoyed her charms. When Burbage arrived, Shakespeare allegedly said, "William the Conqueror was before Richard III."
Hey, I didn't say I believed it.
For an account of this, see Jeremy Potter, Good King Richard? An Account of Richard III and His Reputation, 1983 (I use the 1989 Constable edition), p. 154.
If that connection isn't enough, there is also a link of sorts with Chaucer's "Miller's Tale." That too involves a trick to get the hero into bed, but so different a trick as to make a connection most unlikely. However, it is sometimes claimed that one of Chaucer's sources was an Italian tale eventually published by Masuccio Salernitano (although in 1476, so more than a quarter of a century after the Miller's Tale). In this account, according to Thomas W. Ross, editor, A Variorum Edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Volume II, Part 3, The Miller's Tale, University of Oklahoma Press, 1983, p. 5, a carpenter has a young wife, Viola, and some trickery involving one lover scaring off another. Still not a very close parallel, I agree. It strikes me more as evidence of how a certain type of person enjoys tales of cuckoldry. The same page tells of a Flemish parallel which is closer; a priest tries to sneak in with a girl by saying, in effect, "You know who I am." And that seems to be early enough to have been known to Chaucer. But Chaucer doesn't seem to have known the Flemish dialect, and he did know Italian.
The notes in Flanders connect this with "Glasgerion" (Child 67).All we can say is, the theme is somewhat similar, but they're different songs.- RBW
Last updated in version 5.1
File: LK40

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