A young couple are parted (when the young man is taken away to sea). While in service, he is drowned. The girl vows she will not dress in fine clothes nor seek another man until the day she dies
Lowlands of Holland, The Complete text(s) *** A *** As printed by W. H. Logan, The Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs, pp. 24-25. Immediate source is not noted. This is listed as the "broadside version" of the song. The night that I was married and laid in my marriage bed, There came a bold sea captain and stood at my bed head; Saying, "Arouse, arouse you, married man, and come along with me To the lowlands of Holland to face your enemy." For Holland is a pretty place for nobles to dwell in, There is no place of harbour for seamen to remain; The sugar cane is plenty and the tea grows on its trees, And the Lowlands of Holland's between my love and me. I'll build my love a gallant ship a ship with noble sails, Twenty-four bold mariners to sail her on the main; Come all you ranting roving heroes! come now, boys, pull away! I wish I was with my true love although he's far away. One evening as I walked down by a river side, There came a bold sea captain and asked me to be his bride; "Your bride, your bride, young man," she says, "your bride I cannot be, I had in the world but one true love and pressed he was from me. "No scarf shall go o'er my shoulder nor comb go in my hair, Neither moonlight nor candlelight shall view my beauty fair; Nor no man will I marry until the day I die, Since the raging seas and stormy winds have parted my love and me." Says the mother to the daughter, "why do you thus lament? Is there not men enough in this world to pease your discontent." "There's not a man in all this world this night shall serve for me, May woe attend the captain that pressed my love away."
"The Lowlands of Holland" is frequently connected to "Bonny Bee Hom" (Child 92), a link dating back to Child (who printed four stanzas of Herd's text). The matter has been much studied, without clear conclusion. It might be noted, however, that "Bonny Bee Hom" involves a magic device (the stone that tells the lover whether his sweetheart is true), a theme not found in "The Lowlands of Holland."
It will also be obvious that "The Lowlands of Holland" has been enduringly popular, whereas "Bonny Bee Hom" has had very little currency in tradition. - RBW