I guess Nuage had this pegged as a nursery rhyme, which it can be – it is also used as a jump rope rhyme. But it was originally an English folk song – probably originating in Northumberland. Shaftoe is pronounced Shafty. Although there are variations in the lyrics depending on who you ask, here’s a good average version:

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.

Bobby Shaftoe's bright and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair,
He's my ain for ever mair,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.

Bobby Shaftoe's tall and slim,
He's always dressed so neat and trim,
The lassies they all keek at him,
Bonny Bobby Shaftoe.


Bobby Shaftoe's gett'n a bairn,
For to dandle on his airm,
On his airm and on his knee,
Bobby Shaftoe loves me.