SWEET WILLIAM'S FAREWELL TO BLACK-EY'D SUSAN:
by: John Gay (1685-1732)
- LL in the Downs the fleet was
- The streamers waving in the wind,
- When black-ey'd Susan came aboard.
- Oh! where shall I my true love find!
- Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
- If my sweet William sails among the crew.
- William, who high upon the yard,
- Rock'd with the billow to and fro,
- Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
- He sigh'd, and cast his eyes below:
- The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
- And, (quick as lightning) on the deck he stands.
- So the sweet lark, high pois'd in air,
- Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
- (If, chance, his mate's shrill call he hear)
- And drops at once into her nest.
- The noblest captain in the British fleet,
- Might envy William's lip those kisses sweet.
- "O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
- My vows shall ever true remain;
- Let me kiss off that falling tear,
- We only part to meet again.
- Change, as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
- The faithful compass that still points to thee.
- "Believe not what the landmen say,
- Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
- They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
- In ev'ry port a mistress find.
- Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
- For thou art present wheresoe'er I go.
- "If to far India's coast we sail,
- Thy eyes are seen in di'monds bright,
- Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
- Thy skin is ivory, so white.
- Thus ev'ry beauteous object that I view,
- Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
- "Though battle call me from thy arms
- Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
- Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms,
- William shall to his dear return.
- Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
- Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye".
- The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
- The sails their swelling bosom spread,
- No longer must she stay aboard:
- They kiss'd, she sigh'd, he hung his head.
- Her less'ning boat, unwilling rows to land:
- "Adieu", she cries! and wav'd her lily hand.
POEMS BY JOHN GAY
"Sweet William's Farewell to
Black-Ey'd Susan: A Ballad" is reprinted from Poems on
Several Occasions. John Gay. London: Jacob Tonson and Bernard