“Across the Western Ocean”


"Oh, the times are hard and the wages low, Amelia, where you bound to? The Rocky Mountains is my home Across the western ocean." The emigrants leave poverty behind to set out for better conditions in America. Unusual passengers may be described


Shay attempted to find a ship _Amelia_ that might have been the inspiration for the chorus. He found none that fit, and suggested "O'Malley" as a possible emendation. Of course, the other possibility (as he himself admits) is that Amelia is just a girl.

Shay also has an unusual verse, in which the sailor heads across the ocean "To join the Irish army." Shay does not connect this with any sort of militarism; he thinks it applies simply to the mass emigration of the Irish to America. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Colcord, p. 118, "Across the Western Ocean" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Harlow, pp. 58-59, "Across the Western Ocean" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hugill, pp. 292-293, "Across the Rockies," "Across the Western Ocean" (2 texts, 1 tune) [AbrEd pp. 215-216]
  4. Sandburg, p. 412, "Leave Her, Bullies, Leave Her" (2 text, 1 tune, but the "A" text is "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her")
  5. Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 71-72, "Across the Western Ocean" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Scott-BoA, pp. 150-151, "Across the Western Ocean" (1 text, tune referenced)
  7. SHenry H96, p. 96, "It's Time for Us to Leave Her" (1 text, 1 tune -- a fragment, short enough that it could be this or "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her")
  8. Silber-FSWB, p. 88, "Across the Western Ocean" (1 text)
  10. Roud #8234
  11. BI, San412


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (Sandburg)
Found in: US