“The Unfortunate Swain”


The singer goes to a meadow to pick a rose and asks why he must "love a girl that will break my heart." He will love only her. "He that loves an unkind maid, I am sure he strives against the stream" When she dies he will still think about her.


The description is from broadside Bodleian Harding B 22(312).

Roud puts this with "Love Has Brought Me to Despair" [Laws P25]. I agree that it shares floating verses with the family of songs Roud lumps together under that number. If I had only the Jasper Smith version on Voice11 I would have done the same. The broadside Bodleian Harding B 22(312), has (almost) the same first verse and shares the remaining two verses of Smith's version including one that I haven't seen among the floaters:

A ship there is that sails the sea.

She's loaded deep as deep can be,

But not so deep as the love I'm in.

I care not whether I sink or swim.

The broadside makes it clear that the man of the couple is the singer. It ends

When my love is dead and at her rest

I'll think of her whom I love best.

To wrap her up in linen strong

I'll think of her when dead and gone.

Smith's version seems so likely to have come directly from this or a closely related broadside that I think I am justified in making the broadside and its derivative a separate song. - BS


  • Bodleian, Harding B 22(312), "The Unfortunate Swain" ("Down in a meadow fair and gay"), unknown, n.d.


  • Jasper Smith, "Down In The Meadow" (on Voice11)


  1. Roud #60
  2. BI, RcUSDitM


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1975 (recording, Jasper Smith)
Found in: Britain(England(Lond))