Dark Eyed Canaller

Author Unknown

This was another song that was adapted from another song to be about the Erie Canal specifically. The original song was called “Dark-eyed Sailor” and was a traditional sea shanty that sailors sang on their travels. The song is about sailor’s lovers waiting for them to return for extended periods of time and in the meantime rejecting other men’s advances while waiting for their true love to return.


It was a comely young lady fair Was walking out to take the air She met a canaller upon the way So I paid attention, so I paid attention To hear what they did say.

“Fair maid,” said he, “while you roam alone, The night is come and the day’s far gone.” She drew a dagger, and then did cry, “For my dark-eyed canaller, for my dark-eyed canaller Though he may live or die.

“My every hope is based on him; True love will wait, true love will win.” She said, while tears from her eyes did fall, ” ‘Tis my dark-eyed canaller, ’tis my dark-eyed canaller Approving my downfall.”

Cried William, “Drive him from your mind, Many as good a canaller as him you’ll find; Love turned aside and cold did grow, Like a winter’s morning, like a winter’s morning When the hills are clad with snow.”

“His coal-black eyes and curly hair, His flattering tongue my heart ensnared; Genteel was he, no rake like you, To advise a maiden, to advise a maiden, To slight this jacket blue.

“It is six long years since he left our boat, A gold ring he took and gently broke; He left this token –here’s half you see, And the other he’s keeping, and the other he’s keeping To remind him oft of me.”

When William did this ring unfold, She seemed too struck with joy and woe; “You’re welcome, William, I’ve land and gold, For my dark-eyed canaller, for my dark-eyed canaller So manly, true and bold.”

Come Ladies, yes, listen, oh, come and see, And a warning take, oh, take from me. Always be true while your love’s away, For a cloudy morning, for a cloudy morning, Oft brings a pleasant day.