“The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor)”


The singer courts a girl, but she remains true to William, her sailor, gone these seven years. William at last identifies himself and produces his half of their broken ring. The two are married and settle down


Ford sings this to the tune usually associated with "The Blacksmith," which -- so far as I know -- hasn't been otherwise collected outside Britain except as "Brave Wolfe." - PJS

Lines shared with The Banks of Sweet Primroses: Young girl's be true while your love's at sea, For a dark cloudy morning Brings forth a pleasant day."

Broadside LOCSinging as102640: J. Andrews dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 2483, "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-ey'd Sailor," unknown [Printer's Series:(39)], 1767-1808; also Harding B 11(498), "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor," J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838; Harding B 11(499), Johnson Ballads 452, Firth c.18(141), Harding B 15(99a), Harding B 11(1120), Firth c.12(261), Harding B 11(1119), Harding B 11(3030), Harding B 16(84b), "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor"; Firth c.17(53), Harding B 11(2824), Firth b.27(475), "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-ey'd Sailor"; Harding B 16(326b), "Fair Phoebe and her Dark Eyed Sailor"; Firth b.25(142), Harding B 15(98b), "Fair Phoebe and her Dark Ey'd Sailor"; Harding B 11(3493), Johnson Ballads 1837, "Fair Phoebe, and the Dark-Eye'd Sailor"; Firth b.25(193), "Fair Phoebe and the Dark-Eyed sailor"; Harding B 15(99b), "Fair Phoeby and Her Dark Eyed Sailor"; Harding B 18(114), "Dark Ey'd Sailor" ("'Tis of a comely young lady, fair")
  • LOCSinging, as102640, "Dark Ey'd Sailor," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859; also sb10077b, "Dark Ey'd Sailor"
  • Murray, Mu23-y1:016, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor," R. M'Intosh (Calton), 19C; also Mu23-y1:102, "Fair Phoebe And Her Dark-Eyed Sailor," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C


  • Warde Ford, "Nightingales of Spring" (AFS 4198 A1, 1938; in AMMEM/Cowell)
  • Fred Jordan, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (on Voice02)


  1. Laws N35, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor)"
  2. Gardner/Chickering 57, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text plus 1 excerpt and mention of 2 more, 1 tune)
  3. Doerflinger pp. 300-301, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. SHenry H232, p. 318, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. JHCox 93, "The Broken Ring" (1 text)
  6. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 120-122, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Ord, pp. 323-324, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BrownII 95, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text (with mention of a variant collection) plus 1 excerpt)
  9. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 267-270, "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor" (3 texts; the first, "Young Willie's Return, or The Token," with tune on pp. 426-427, is this song; the second, "The Sailor," with tune on p. 427, is "John (George) Riley (II)" Laws N37; the third, "Billy Ma Hone," with tune on p. 427, seems to be its own song)
  10. MacSeegTrav 26, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Creighton/Senior, pp. 144-146, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" ( 2 texts, 1 tune)
  12. Creighton-NovaScotia 29, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Greenleaf/Mansfield 36, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text)
  14. Peacock, pp. 513-514, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Karpeles-Newfoundland 55, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Lehr/Best 27, "The Dark-eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Mackenzie 64, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text)
  18. Ives-DullCare, pp. 93-94,244, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. Manny/Wilson 65, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  20. OLochlainn 5, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. Darling-NAS, pp. 125-126, "The Dark Eyed Sailor" (1 text)
  22. Silber-FSWB, p. 147, "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" (1 text)
  24. Roud #265
  25. BI, LN35


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1809 (broadside, Bodleian Johnson Ballads 2483)
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(Scotland,England(Lond,West)) Ireland