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The Great Selkie Of Sule Skerry

This song is by June Tabor and appears on the album Ashore (2011).

In nor'way land there lived a maid
"Hush ba lu lilly" she did sing,
For little ken I my baby's father
Nor yet the land that he dwells in.

It happened on a certain day
As this fair maid lay fast asleep,
That day there came a grey selkie
And sat him down at her bed feet

Awake, awake, my pretty maid
It's oh how soundly you do sleep.
For here am I your baby's father,
Sitting here at your bed feet.

I pray you tell to me your name
And where your dwelling it may be?
My name is Good Hale Mariner
I earn my living out at sea.

I am a man upon the land
I am a selkie in the sea,
And when I'm far and far from land
My home it is in Sule Skerry.

Oh woe alas this weary fate,
This weary fate that's laid on me,
That a man should come from the west of Hoy
And father his ain child on me.

My dear, I'll wed you with a ring,
With a ring my dear I'll wed with thee.
You may go to the wedding with whom you will,
I'm sure we'll never married be.

And she has nursed his little wee son
For seven years all at her knee
And when seven years were past and gone
He's come with gold and white money.

And now my dear, will you take the ring?
Will you take the ring and wed with me?
You may go to the wedding with whom you will,
I'm sure you'll never marry me.

I'll put a gold chain round his neck,
And a gay gold chain I'm sure it will be.
And if e'er he comes to the nor'way land,
He'll know for sure that it is he.

And you will marry a gunner good,
And a gay good gunner he will be,
And he'll go out on a May morning
And he'll shoot your son and he'll shoot me.

And the selkie took the little boy in his arms
And they went away and over the hill. And in time,
As the selkie had prophesied, she did marry a gunner,
Who went out on a May morning and shot two seals -
A big bull male and a young male with a gold chain
Around his neck.

Oh woe, alas, this weary fate,
This weary fate that's laid on me.
And so she cried and so she sighed
And her tender heart it broke in three.