Puzzling Bert Jansch lyric

For years I’ve been playing this Bert Jansch tune, Rosemary Lane. I believe it’s a ‘traditional’ song. In it, a young servant woman lies with a visiting sailor, gets pregnant, and this begets a life of misery.

What’s confusing me is the line at the end of the second stanza here:

I can’t make sense of it. As the link notes, the POV changes from first person to third person and back again. Any ideas about what the bolded line means?

It’s not like I get quizzed on this stuff, but I do like to understand what I’m singing about, for the most part.

Isn’t 7 years the length of time necessary to establish a “common-law” marriage? I know that has no legal standing in America, but England of yesteryear? If it had lasted 7 years, then she would have a husband and not be an “un-wed” mother.

What’s so mysterious? They had sex. She, apparently enjoying it, wished that it could have gone on longer. “Seven long years” is just a suitably poetic way of putting it.

I’m not sure that there’s any significance to the seven years except that in folk songs, that seems to be one of the universal units of time. Sailors are always sailing off for seven years on the bounding main while the girl waits behind.

That makes some sense. What confused me is that as far as I know, that stanza is being sung by someone else, so the last line, as being sung by someone else, never made sense. It does make more sense if it’s the girl’s thought.

If it helps your confusion any, I’ve always heard the lyrics of this song slightly differently.
Now this maid young and foolish, she thought it no harm,
to lie on the bed for to keep herself warm
etc

It doesn’t totally clear up the POV problem, but it sounds more like she’s gently mocking herself with those lyrics.
Although it doesn’t address your specific question, here’s some interesting information on the song:
http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/LK43.html
IMHO, this song is much better with a female singing it, and makes much more sense. I would recommend Scartaglen with Connie Dover singing.

Ealain Draoi

Sudden changes in point of view are very common in folk songs. One theory is that people hear different versions and then sort of moosh them together.

Here’s another example, The Banks of Claudy. Note the last verse.

Almost every version particular folk theme (sailor comes back from sea in disguise to test the faithfulness of his love or maybe just piss her off, I dunno) seems to change the POV of the narrator during the course of the song. Usually it starts out that the narrator is just a passerby, then it turns into a first person “oh yeah, I’m in disguise”.