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THE GREAT SILKIE OF SULE SKERRY
Traditional

In Norway land there lived a maid,
"Hush, ba, loo lillie" this maid began,
"I know not where my baby's father is,
Or by land or sea does he travel in."
 
It happened on a certain day,
When this fair lady fell fast asleep,
That in cam' a good grey silkie,
And set him down at her bed feet.
 
Saying "Awak', awak' my pretty fair maid,
For oh, how sound as thou dost sleep,
An' I'll tell thee where thy baby's father is,
He's sittin' close at thy bed feet."
 
"I pray come tell to me thy name,
Oh, tell me where does thy dwelling be?"
"My name is good Hill Marliner,
And I earn my livin' oot o' the sea.
 
"I am a man upon the land'
I am a silkie in the sea,
An' when I'm far from every strand,
My dwelling it is Sule Skerry."
 
"Alas, alas this woeful fate,
This weary fate that's been laid on me,
That a man should come from the Wast o' Hoy,
To the Norway lands to have a bairn with me."
 
"My dear I'll wed thee with a ring,
With a ring, my dear, will I wed wi' thee."
"Thoo may go to thee weddings wi' whom too wilt,
For I'm sure thoo will never wed wi' me."
 
"Thoo will nurse my little wee son
For seven long years upon thy knee;
An' at the end o' seven long years
I'll come back and pay the nurse's fee."
 
She's nursed her little wee son
For seven long years upon her knee;
An' at the end o' seven long years
He came back wi' gold and white monie.
 
He says "My dear, I'll wed thee wi' a ring,
Wi' a ring, my dear, I'll wed wi' thee."
"Thoo may go to thee weddings wi' whom thoo wilt
For I'm sure thoo never will wed wi' me."
 
"But I'll put a gold chain around his neck,
An' a gey good gold chain it'll be,
That if ever he comes to the Norway lands,
Thoo may hae a gey good guess on he.
 
"An' thoo will get a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it will be,
An' he'll gae out on a May morning
An' shoot your son an' the grey silkie."
 
Oh, she has got a gunner good,
An' a gey good gunner it was he.
An' he gaed oot on a May morning
An' he shot the son an' the grey silkie.
 
"Alas, alas, this woeful fate,
This weary fate that's been laid on me."
An' aince or twice she sobbed and sighed,
An' her tender heart did brak in three. 
Footnote : Around the north and west coasts of Scotland many tales exist of the belief that the grey seal can cast its skin and become a man on dry land. This was a very popular song during the Scottish Folk Revival.

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