Andrew Poleson                                       SA1974.237.2

This is one of several Georgian ‘sea songs’ that were much in vogue during the early 19th century   (Roud index no. 23596).  The words were composed by Samuel James Arnold and the melody by the immensely popular London tenor opera singer John Braham (d. 1856).  It was still being printed on penny song sheets as late as 1873 by The Poet’s Box at The Overgate in Dundee and the printers Sanderson of Edinburgh often obtained such copies to include in their catalogues: perhaps this is how this song reached Whalsay.  Andrew’s version was recorded late during the partying of the old men in the Cook’s House on July 26, 1974 while they watched over the boiling up of the meat for the wedding feast at nearby Symbister Hall.

Whalsay resident Rose Williamson kindly contributed the following: clearly the song had a special meaning for many of the people of Whalsay.

” I learned recently that this song was sung from the deck of a troopship as it left the pier at Lerwick in 1914.   The singer was (another) Willie Hutchison (“Willie a’ Hoose”) – an uncle to Gracie [Anderson].   It proved to be his last farewell, as he was lost along with Peter Hutchison (Willie of Creadie Knowe’s father) and another cousin, John Hutchison of Brough, with HMS Ramsey.”

The tears fell gently from her eyes
When last we parted on the shore;
Her bosom heaved with many a sigh
To think I never shall see her more.
“Dear youth,” she cries, “And cans’t thou stay away.
My heart will break,” “I canna little stay.”
“Alas I canna, I can not part from thee.”
“The anchor’s a-weigh, the anchor’s a-weigh
Farewell, farewell, remember me.”

[“Weep not my love,” I] gently said,
“Doubt not a constant heart like mine;
I ne’er can meet another maid
Whose charms can fill that heart like thine.”
“Go then,” she cries, “And leave thy constant mind,
Oft think of her you leave in tears behind.
Dear youth, my last embrace my pledge shall be!”
“The anchor’s a-weigh, the anchor’s a-weigh
Farewell, farewell, remember me.”