Sweet William's Farewell to Black-ey'd Susan: A Ballad

Original Text: 
John Gay, Poems on Several Occasions (London: Jacob Tonson and Bernard Lintot, 1720). E-10 4365 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
1  All in the Downs the fleet was moor'd,
2    The streamers waving in the wind,
3When black-ey'd Susan came aboard.
4    Oh! where shall I my true love find!
5Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
6If my sweet William sails among the crew.
7  William, who high upon the yard,
8    Rock'd with the billow to and fro,
9Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
10    He sigh'd, and cast his eyes below:
11The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
12And, (quick as lightning) on the deck he stands.
13  So the sweet lark, high pois'd in air,
14    Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
15(If, chance, his mate's shrill call he hear)
16    And drops at once into her nest.
17The noblest captain in the British fleet,
18Might envy William's lip those kisses sweet.
19  "O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
20    My vows shall ever true remain;
21Let me kiss off that falling tear,
22    We only part to meet again.
23Change, as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
24The faithful compass that still points to thee.
25  "Believe not what the landmen say,
26    Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
27They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
28    In ev'ry port a mistress find.
29Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
30For thou art present wheresoe'er I go.
31  "If to far India's coast we sail,
32    Thy eyes are seen in di'monds bright,
33Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
34    Thy skin is ivory, so white.
35Thus ev'ry beauteous object that I view,
36Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
37  "Though battle call me from thy arms
38    Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
39Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms,
40    William shall to his dear return.
41Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
42Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye".
43  The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
44    The sails their swelling bosom spread,
45No longer must she stay aboard:
46    They kiss'd, she sigh'd, he hung his head.
47Her less'ning boat, unwilling rows to land:
48"Adieu", she cries! and wav'd her lily hand.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.558.