My Boatman

by Sue Lee



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Oh I fell in love in love with a boatman lad
It was eighteen ninety one!
He worked upon his father's boats
He was their only son
From dawn to dusk he laboured hard
To load their boats with coal
And I watched him from my father's yard
On the Grand Junction Canal

He was so tall and handsome then
With eyes of deepest blue
His hair was black and curly
And my love for him grew
I watched him as the weeks went by
Working with a will
Loading boats at my father's wharf
The memory's with me still

I little thought he'd notice me
I was but eighteen years
Each week I'd wait for his boats to come
When they left I'd shed the tears
Oh my hopeless situation!
I dared not even pray
That he might ever look at me
Until that fateful day

It was on the twenty third of March
And the wind was blowing shrill
My boatman came in search of help
For his father, Oh so ill!
A rope had snapped and the load had trapped
His father, so he cried
And by six o'clock that very night
John Sutton he had died

Well I learned that day, his name was Jack
And as the weeks went by
When his boat and butty he'd tie up
I would 'happen' to pass by
We came to know each other well
I can see him to this day
With his bold brave smile and gentle heart
Saying he'd wed me next May Day

"He's beneath your station" Father cried,
"You're not for the likes of he!"
We knew then we would have no peace
From my home I'd have to flee
Jack said I was so beautiful
More fitting for a King!
And when next he came in search of me
Jack brought a golden ring

And though we were never wed in church
Jack always called me 'Wife'
Though times were hard, but together
We've had a happy life.
I've borne him sons and daughters ten
And we've lived life to the full
Though our days are spent in a cottage now
I love my boatman still!
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