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Widows on the Shore

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If you think about it, the traditional sea shanties and songs that have survived to modern times are pretty exclusively man-centric. I got to wondering about the songs the women who were left ashore in the maritime towns and villages might have sung as they went about their work while their menfolk went to work at sea. If any such songs have survived, they're not many and certainly obscure by comparison.

Anyone familiar with the age of sail knows that the sea exacted a high cost in the lives of men and boys who never returned to their beloved women, leaving behind wives, daughters, sisters, aunties, sweethearts and so on. I got to thinking that the loss of so many loved ones might well have been something that women of those days would have sung about. And so I tried to imagine a sea shanty type song from that point of view, taking some inspiration from Kipling's "Captains Courageous", among other things.

Dedicated to the memory of my paternal grandmother, Ruth Paige Palomo, linguist, scholar, children's poet, world traveler, and gourmet cook. In many ways she was 50 years ahead of time, in other ways she was left behind on the shore. She quietly taught me to enjoy cooking good food, to speak Spanish, to respect other cultures and countries, and she encouraged me to explore music and be myself.

Lyrics

You’ve heard many a song of sailor men
Widows on the shore
Who sailed but never came home again
Widows on the shore
But never no songs about maids like Ye
Widows on the shore
Found in every town beside the sea
Widows on the shore

CHORUS:
Widows on the shore ye be
Your menfolk never more to see
This side of Eternity
Ye be widows on the shore

My name is Anne of Gloucester Bay
Widows on the shore
I remember well my wedding day
Widows on the shore
Five years as man and wife had we
Widows on the shore
Then my Edward was taken by the sea
Widows on the shore

CHORUS

I am sweet Peg of Portland town
Widows on the shore
My Jonathan with his ship went down
Widows on the shore
Honest and strong and brave was he
Widows on the shore
In a gale of George’s he were took from me
Widows on the shore

CHORUS

Jane am I of Prince Edward Isle
Widows on the shore
Little cause have I to smile
Widows on the shore
My father, my brother, and a son I bore
Widows on the shore
Who now I never shall see no more
Widows on the shore

CHORUS

When next in the tavern ye shall be
Widows on the shore
Singing songs of men who sail the sea
Widows on the shore
Remember the widows now and then
Widows on the shore
Whose menfolk never sailed home again
Widows on the shore

CHORUS

TAG:
Ye be widows
On the shore