Lesley Nelson-Burns: Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low

This ballad was printed in England on numerousbroadsides in the 1800s. Printers included J. Catnach who printed between 1813 and 1838. Copies of many of these can be found at theBodleian Library. This version was collected by George Gardiner in Hampshire and published in 1909.

The name of the hero is variously Edwin, Edmund or Edward, and Emma is also known as Emily.

The ballad was also well-known in Ireland and America. It was collected in Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Vermont, Michigan, North Carolan, Georgia, New York and Kentucky. It was also found in Nova Scotia.


COME, all you wild, young people
   And listen to the song
That I will sing concerning gold,
   Which guides so many wrong.
Young Emma was a servant-maid
   And loved a sailor bold,
He ploughed the main much gold to gain,
   For his Love, as we've been told.

Young Emma she did daily mourn
   Since Edwin first did roam;
When seven years were past and gone,
   Then Edwin hailed his home.
He went unto young Emma's house
   The store of gold to show,
Which he had gained upon the main
   Above the Lowlands Low.

Her father kept a public inn,
   It stood down by the sea.
Says Emma, 'You can enter in
   And there this night can be.
I'll meet you in the morning,
   Don't let my parents know,
Your name it is young Edwin
   That ploughed the Lowlands Low.'

As Emma she lay sleeping
   She had a frightful dream,
She dreamt her Love stood weeping,
   His blood poured in a stream.
She rose up in the morning
   And to her friends did go,
Because she loved him dearly;
   That ploughed the Lowlands Low.

'Oh, mother, where's the stranger lad,
   Came here last night to stay?'
'Oh, he is dead, no tales can tell;'
   Her father he did say.
'Then father, cruel father,
   You will die a public show
For murdering my Edwin,
   That ploughed the Lowlands Low.

The fishes of the ocean
   Swim o'er my lover's breast,
His body rolls in motion,
   I hope his soul at rest,
How cruel were my parents
   To prove his overthrow,
And take the gold from one so bold
   That ploughed the Lowlands Low.'

1813-1838