Another beautiful song, but more of the "quarter-deck" than the "fore-castle" variety, was never so far as I know current ashore. The original version was a North Country ballad about the little port of Amble in Northumberland. W. E. Henley took it and rewrote it, giving it Falmouth for a home port. In the British version, the expected son "will live to serve his King,With his dirk and his hat and his little jacket blue ." That had to be changed for Yankee consumption. Whether sung by British or Americans, no song so tenderly expresses the homesick longing of the sailor in foreign parts.
Shay identifies this with the "many-versioned Bell-Bottom Trousers of the clubhouses and bull sessions".
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Oh, Boston's a fine town, with ships in the bay, And I wish in my heart it was there I was today, I wish in my heart I was far away from here, A-sitting in my parlor and talking to my dear,
Then it's home, dearie, home, it's home I want to be, And it's home, dearie, home, across the rolling sea, Oh, the oak and the sale and the bonny ellum tree, They're all growin' green in my own countree, Then it's home, dearie, home!
In Baltimore a-walking a lady I did meet, With her baby on her arm as she walked down the street, And I thought how I sailed, and the cradle standing ready, And the pretty little babe that has never seen its daddy.
And if it's a girl, oh, she shall live with me, And if it's a boy, he shall sail the rolling sea; With his tarpaulin hat and his little jacket blue, He shall walk the quarter-deck as his daddy used to do.