Traditonal Folk Song:
Publication date 1765 Language English.
Scottish traditional first published in 1765 as “Molly Bawn”.
Typically known as “Polly Vaughan” (or Vaughn) or
“The Shooting of His Dear” or “The Fowler” (for bird hunter).
A man (often named Jimmy or Johnny Randall) goes out hunting in the evening for birds. He sees something white in the bushes. Thinking this is a swan, he shoots. To his horror he discovers he has killed his true love, Molly (or Polly Vaughan). Returning home, he reports his mistake to his uncle and is advised not to run away. He should stay and tell the court that it was
an honest mistake. The night before her funeral,
her ghost appears to confirm his version of the events.
Second Hand Songs (a favorite site of mine)
lists only 16 versions of this famous folk song,
but I’m absolutely certain there at least 3 times
as many as that on YouTube alone.