Early, Early in the Spring [Laws M1]

DESCRIPTION: The singer is (pressed and) sent to sea. (He writes to his true love, but her father withholds the letters.) When he returns, her father tells him she has wed another. He accuses her of unfaithfulness and swears to spend the rest of his life at sea
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1869 (Logan-APedlarsPack; broadside version appears to date to the seventeenth century)
KEYWORDS: separation courting love poverty sailor pressgang
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So) Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) Canada (Mar,Newf) Ireland
REFERENCES (32 citations):
Laws M1, "Early, Early in the Spring"
Logan-APedlarsPack, pp. 28-30, "The Disappointed Sailor" (1 text)
OShaughnessy/Grainger-TwentyOneLincolnshireFolkSongs 6, "Early One Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #99, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brocklebank/Kindersley-DorsetBookOfFolkSongs, p. 6, "Single Sailor" (1 short text, 1 tune, probably this although it's hard to be sure with just three verses)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #128, p. 1, "Early in the Spring" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan1 51, "The Sailor Deceived" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 163-164, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts)
Randolph 81, "Early, Early in the Spring" (4 texts plus an excerpt, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 77-80, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 81D)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol1, pp. 144-145, "The Disappointed Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 38, pp. 67-69"Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 87, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts plus 1 excerpt)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 87, "Early, Early in the Spring" (3 excerpts, 3 tunes)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 41, pp. 155-156, "Early in the Spring" (1 text)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 94, "Early In One Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, pp. 144-146, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text)
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 328-331, "Early, Early in the Spring" (3 texts, the third very short; 2 texts on p. 444)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 125, "Early, Early in the Spring" (5 texts, 5 tunes)
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 154-155, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-MaritimeFolkSongs, p. 98, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 549-550, "The Letters of Love" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 63, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 66, "The Trail to Mexico" (5 texts, 1 tune, of which only the "C" and "D" texts go here; "A" and "B" are "The Trail to Mexico" and "E" is "Going to Leave Old Texas")
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 111, "Early in the Spring" (3 texts plus mention of 1 more)
Cox/Hercog/Halpert/Boswell-WVirginia-A, #18, pp. 79-80, "'Twas Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads, pp. 55-56, "Early, Early in the Spring (The Girl I Left Behind)" (1 text)
Ashton-RealSailorSongs, #56 insert, "The Sailor Deceived" (1 text)
Palmer-OxfordBookOfSeaSongs 39, "The Disappointed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex, ZN2863, "When I went early in the Spring"; cf. ZN1423, "In e'ery street I hear 'em sing"
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 22, #5 (1973), p, 19, "Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune, ending with a suicide; the version was collected in Pennsylvania by Sam Bayard though the informant's name was not recorded)

Roud #152
Robert Cinnamond, "Early, Early, All In the Spring" (on Voice15, IRRCinnamond03)
Nicholas Davis, "The Colour of Amber" (on MUNFLA/Leach) (see NOTES)
Margaret Dirrane, "'Twas Early, Early in the Spring" (on Aran1)
Sam Hazel, "Early, Early in the Spring" (AFS 3095 A2, 3095 B1, 1939)
Leonard Hulan, "The Letters of Love" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Roisin White, "It Was Early Early All In the Spring" (on IRRWhite01)

cf. "The Trail to Mexico" [Laws B13] (plot)
NOTES [140 words]: Several texts of this song, including Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety's "B" and one found by Lomax, convert the sailor to a cowboy. It is quite likely that this is a deliberate recension, and so perhaps worthy of separate listing. But Laws does not distinguish the versions, so we don't either. But cf. "The Trail to Mexico" [Laws B13].
Wolfe notes a suggestion by Sharp and Karpeles that this is based on Vernon's 1793 West Indies expedition. This is obviously possible but not compelling, and has vanished from many versions. - RBW
The MUNFLA/Leach text begins with floater "Colour of Amber" verse, in which the singer -- usually female for the verse -- is male. The text also omits the usual "Early, Early in the Spring" verse. Although some of the remaining lines are broken the rest of the text is surely Laws M1. - BS
Last updated in version 5.1
File: LM01

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.