“I'll Build Me a Boat”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Keywords: homicide brother ship river love courting suicide drowning sea
Found in: US(SE)

Description

"I'll make me a boat and I'll down the river float... I'll see Mona, fair Mona, pretty Mona I'll see." Using his shirt for a sail, he arrives at Mona's -- but her four brothers break in, kill him, and throw him in the sea. She throws herself in after him

Notes

The editors of Brown, seemingly followed by Roud, threw this in with "Raise a Ruckus Tonight" because it contains that key line, and other hints (e.g. the girl's name Mona) that it is related to that song.

Related, but assuredly not a version. The overwhelming majority of the text is a murder ballad -- and, by the looks of it, a very old and possibly very good one that somehow was mixed up with "Raise a Ruckus." Unfortunately, it's short enough that it can't be identified by its lyrics -- and the plot doesn't exactly match any others I know. The murderous brothers are common -- but throwing the body in the sea certainly isn't, and the use of a shirt for a sail is most intriguing. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. BrownIII 499, "Raise a Ruckus Tonight" (4 texts, of which "A" is this piece)
  2. Roud #10054
  3. BI, Br3499