“Beam of Oak”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1960 (Leach-Labrador)
Keywords: battle navy death suicide father lover ghost
Found in: Canada(Newf)

Description

A farmer's daughter loves a servant man. Her father has him sent to sea. He is killed in battle. His ghost visits the father. The daughter hears about it. She hangs herself. Father finds her hanging. Her note blames the father, who goes mad

Supplemental text

Beam of Oak
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From MacEdward Leach, Folk Ballads & Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast,
#15, pp. 62-63. "Sung by Stuart Letto, Lance au Clair, July 1960."

A farmer's daughter, you may understand,
She fell in love with a servant man.
And when her father came this to hear,
He separated her from her dear.

We haven't been scarce three days at sea,
When they fell into a bloody fray.
It was this young man's lot to fall;
He lost his life by a cannonball.

Scarce three days after, this young man was seen;
His deathly ghost to her father came
With his deadly wounds by his bedside stood,
WIth his arms and shoulders all covered with blood.

(6 additional stanzas)

Notes

This is not "The Butcher Boy" [Laws P24] in spite of the suicide by hanging, the father finding the body and the suicide note. Consider the differences: the lover is faithful, the father causes the separation, the lover is killed and his ghost returns, and the suicide note blames the father. - BS

Roud lumps it with "Love Has Brought Me to Despair" [Laws P25], but this is a much more detailed song than that. At most, it might be the inspiration, but even that seems forced. The feeling seems very different -- more like "The Suffolk Miracle" than "The Butcher Boy." - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Leach-Labrador 15, "Beam of Oak" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST LLab015 (Partial)
  3. Roud #60
  4. BI, LLab015