British tradition has innumerable songs telling a similar story. It’s known as a ‘broken token’ theme, in which the young man goes away to sea for an unknown number of years. Before he and his sweetheart say farewell they exchange a token of their love, usually a ring, which they sometimes break and each keeps half while they are separated.
The words are from J Pomery, aged 83, Bridport Union, (a workhouse) May 1906; The tune from Mrs Steer, South Perrott, Dorset. Collected by Henry Hammond in July 1906.