Oh, Johnny was my true love's name as you can plainly see,
And my father he employed him his labouring boy to be,
To harrow, to reap, and to sow the seed, and to plough my father's land;
Very soon I fell in love with him as you may understand.
I courted him for six long months but little did I know
That cruel was my father; he proved my overthrow,
He watched us close one evening down by a shady grove
While pledging our vows together in the constant bands of love.
My mother come to me one day and this to me did say;
'Oh your father is determined for to appoint your wedding day.'
Well nobly I made answer, 'It's with him I'll never comply,
For I'd rather live a single life or have my labouring boy.'
'O daughter, dearest daughter, oh why do you talk so strange,
To marry a poor labouring boy the wide world for to range?
Some noble lord would fancy you better; great riches you could enjoy,
So do not throw your life away for a poor labouring boy.'
'O mother, dearest mother, your talk is all in vain.
Your kings, lords, dukes or earls, their offer I disdain.
I'd rather live a single life, my time for to enjoy,
Then increasing nature prosper for my bonny labouring boy.'
Five hundred pounds of my best clothes I sold that very night,
And with the boy who I love best to Belfast we did fly.
His love it has entangled me and the same I'll never deny,
And God may speed the plough with my bonny labouring boy.
So fill your glasses to the brim, let the toast go merrily round;
Here is a health to every labouring man who ploughs and sows the ground,
And when his work is over, it's home he'll speed with joy,
And happy, happy is the girl who weds the labouring boy.
The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs.
Abridged from The Penguin Book.
This song is more popular in England, turning up in Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset and is found in Ireland. It appeared on many nineteenth-century ballad sheets, with the couple fleeing to different places, eg Plymouth rather than Belfast.
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six