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Sea Fever - John Roberts

Sea Fever
The Boatman's Cure
Let the Bulgine Run
What Fortunes Guide a Sailor
1. Sea Fever 3:05
2. Campañero 3:00
3. Diego's Bold Shore 5:27
4. The Bonny Ship the Diamond 3:00
5. Candlelight Fisherman 2:41
6. Farewell Nancy 2:10
7. The Weeping Willow Tree 6:23
8. The Boatman's Cure 4:59
9. Short Jacket and White Trousers 2:21
10. Sir Patrick Spens 4:43
11. Let the Bulgine Run/Sally in the Garden/Hog-Eye Man 5:51
12. The Black Cook 4:14
13. The Saucy Sailor 2:08
14. The Old Figurehead Carver 4:43
15. What Fortunes Guide a Sailor/Leave Her Johnny 6:59





SONG NOTES

Sea Fever is the famous poem by John Masefield set to music by Andy Taylor. I learned it from Ed Trickett and Harry Tuft who recorded it in the early 1970s. This version of The Campañero is a little different from the one popularized by Stan Hugill — I learned it from Ewan MacColl. I first heard Diego's Bold Shore sung by Eliza Carthy in concert at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Later I found out that it is in Gale Huntington's book Songs the Whalemen Sang. How could I have missed it? The Bonny Ship the Diamond is another whaling song, this time from Scotland. This version was popularized by singer, author and folklorist A. L. Lloyd, who collected it in Liverpool in 1937. Candlelight Fisherman comes from Bob Roberts, master of the Cambria, the last of the Thames sailing barges. He had a great repertoire of sea songs, many of them humorous, and a lot of them have become staples of the folk clubs. Cecil Sharp collected Farewell Nancy in Somerset in 1905; again, A. L. Lloyd, one of several singers who recorded versions of it, seems to have had a hand in "folk-processing" the lyrics.

The Weeping Willow Tree was given to the Vermont collector Helen Hartness Flanders by Lena Bourne "Grammy" Fish of E. Jaffrey, NH. Since this version of The Golden Vanity has a twist in the tail, folklorists have suggested that Mrs. Fish rewrote the ending. I learned it from my dear friend the late Margaret MacArthur of Marlboro, VT. My friend and neighbor George Ward wrote The Boatman's Cure, based on research he did on the history of the "bateau," the vessel used along the Mohawk River for exploration and trade in the 18th century. Short Jacket and White Trousers is another song from the repertoire of A. L. Lloyd; I don't know his source. I learned Nic Jones' version of Sir Patrick Spens quite a few years ago when I was asked to sing some ballad examples in an English class at Union College. It lay dormant for a while, but I gradually started wondering if I could work out a concertina arrangement for it.

Let the Bulgine Run and Hog-Eye Man are the first real chanteys presented here, though they are obviously not sung as work songs. They are both well-known, and I link them with an old fiddle tune called Sally in the Garden, inspired by some of the lyrics in the second chantey. My long-time singing partner Tony Barrand recorded The Black Cook on one of our early albums. It's a collation of Newfoundland and Pennsylvania variants. Since I hadn't heard him sing it in a good while, I thought I might borrow it. Frankie Armstrong and Maddy Prior both recorded The Saucy Sailor, adapting a Somerset tune collected by Sharp. Mine is a variant of a different tune family from the same collection.

The Old Figurehead Carver started out as a poem by Hiram Cody of Fredericton, New Brunswick, referring to the famous clipper Marco Polo launched in 1851 in nearby Saint John. My friend Dick Swain gave the poem a tune and added a marvelous chorus. Another friend, Gina Dunlap, took the well-known song How Can I Keep From Singing, and wrote a new set of verses on a whaling theme: What Fortunes Guide a Sailor. I segue from this to Leave Her Johnny, another popular chantey often sung round the capstan at the end of the voyage.


Sea Fever


Sea Fever is the famous poem by John Masefield set to music by Andy Taylor. I learned it from Ed Trickett and Harry Tuft who recorded it in the early 1970s.

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's a-shaking,
A grey mist on the sea's face, a grey dawn a-breaking.

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds a-flying,
The flung spray and the blown spume, the sea-gulls a-crying.

I must down to the sea again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick is over.


The Campañero


This version of The Campañero is a little different from the one popularized by Stan Hugill — I learned it from Ewan MacColl.

I was flat broke on the shore in the town of Baltimore
And I fancied taking a trip to Rio Janeiro
Well, the Frenchman gave me a chance and like wise a month's advance
And shipped me aboard the bark the Campañero.

That night I came on board, my head was whisky sore
And the crimp, he said, In your bunk you'll find a square-o
Well, the square-o it was small and the Cockney drank it all
On board of the handy bark the Campañero.

She was ready to sail away from the moorings where she lay
The sails were set and the wind was blowing fair-o
But the captain he was drunk, and he couldn't get out of his bunk
On board of the handy bark the Campañero.

Now the wind blew down the bay, it blew all of our sails away
And all of them flaming sheets we had to repair-o
So I lost my watch below and I was sent on the poop to sew
On board of the handy bark the Campañero.

Now the mate, he was a big bluff, and he tried to handle us rough
Says I, Is it me you're figuring for to scare-o
But a great big Russian Finn taught a couple of things to him
On board of the handy bark the Campañero.

After forty days or more we reached Brazilia's shore
And the man at the top he shouter, Mates, we're there-o
Well, the wind was blowing free and so straight ahead went we
And dipped our hook that night in Rio Janeiro.

Now the mate, he went ashore, and he never come back no more
And the captain he sent ashore his bags shillero
What with the mate, the skipper, the pump, I was nearly off my chump
On board of the handy bark the Campañero.

So now my voyage is o'er and I'm back in Baltimore
From those flaming old down-easters,, mates, beware-o
If ever more I go to sea, no more Yankee ship for me
For they may be like the bark the Campañero


Diego's Bold Shore


I first heard Diego's Bold Shore sung by Eliza Carthy in concert at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Later I found out that it is in Gale Huntington's book Songs the Whalemen Sang. How could I have missed it?

Has a love of adventure, a promise of gold
Or an ardent desire to roam
Ever tempted you over the watery world
And away from your kindred and home
With a storm beaten captain free hearted and bold
And a score of brave fellows or two
Inured to the hardships of hunger and cold
And a fearless and a jolly good crew.

Have you ever stood watch where Diego's bold shore
Looms up from the Antarctic wave
Where the snowy plumed albatross merrily soars
Over many a mariner's grave
Have you heard the masthead's man sing out there she blows
Seen the boats gaily leave the ship's side
Or the giant fish breach 'neath the harpooner's blows
Till the blue sea with crimson is dyed.

Have you seen the foam fly when the mighty right whale
Thus boldly attacked in his lair
With a terrible blow of his ponderous tail
Sends the boat spinning up in the air
Or where the green isles of the evergreen glades
Are teeming with dainties so rare
Have you ever made love 'neath the coco's green shade
To the sweet sunny maids that dwell there.

Have you ever joined in in the boisterous shout
Reaching far through the heaven's blue dome
When rich in the spoils you have purchased so dear
You have hoisted your topsails for home
Or when the dark hills of Columbia arose
From out the blue waves of the main
Have you ever relived the unspeakable joy
Of meeting with loved ones again.

Let those who delight in the comforts of home
And the joys of a warm fireside
Who deem it a peril the ocean to roam
In the cots of their fathers abide
Though not a day nearer we reckon our death
Though daily we sport o'er our graves
No sweeter they'll slumber beneath the green sod
Than we in the boisterous waves.


The Bonny Ship the Diamond


The Bonny Ship the Diamond is another whaling song, this time from Scotland. This version was popularized by singer, author and folklorist A. L. Lloyd, who collected it in Liverpool in 1937.


The Diamond is the ship, my lads, for the Davis Strait she's bound,
And the quay it is all garnished with bonny lasses round
Captain Thompson gives the orders to sail the ocean wide,
Where the sun it never sets, my lads, nor darkness dims the sky
So it's cheer up my lads, let your hearts never fail,
For the bonny ship the Diamond goes a-fishing for the whale.

Along the quay at Peterhead, the lasses stand around
With their shawls all pulled about them and the salt tears running down
Now don't you weep, my bonny lass, though you be left behind,
For the rose will grow on Greenland's ice before we change our mind.

Here's a health to the Resolution, likewise the Eliza Swan,
Here's a health to the Battler of Montrose and the Diamond, ship of fame;
We wear the trousers of the white and the jackets of the blue
When we return to Peterhead we'll haste sweethearts to you.

It'll be bright both day and night when the Greenland lads come home
With a ship that's full of oil, my lads, and money to our name
We'll make the cradles for to rock and the blankets for to tear
And every lass in Peterhead sing, Hushabye, my dear.


Candlelight Fisherman


Candlelight Fisherman comes from Bob Roberts, master of the Cambria, the last of the Thames sailing barges. He had a great repertoire of sea songs, many of them humorous, and a lot of them have become staples of the folk clubs.

Now my dad was a fisherman bold
And he lived till he grew old
For he'd open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

And he'd oftentimes tell to me
You be sure before you go
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the north wind roughly blow
Then I lie snug below
But I open the pane and pop out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind comes in from the east
It's no good for man nor beast
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind back into the west
It'll blow in hard at best,
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

But when the south wind softly blow
It's then I love to go
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
And there's not enough wind to go.

Now my wife she says to me
We shall starve if you don't go
So I open the pane and I pops out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

So come all you fishermen bold
If you'd live till you grow old
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.


Farewell Nancy


Cecil Sharp collected Farewell Nancy in Somerset in 1905; again, A. L. Lloyd, one of several singers who recorded versions of it, seems to have had a hand in "folk-processing" the lyrics.


Fare you well, my dearest Nancy, for now I must leave you
All across the western ocean I am bound for to go
Don't let my long absence to trouble and grieve you
For I shall return in the spring, as you know.

She says, Like a pretty sea boy I'll dress and go with you
In the midst of all danger your help I'll remain
In the cold stormy weather, when the winds they are a blowing,
My love, I'll be ready to reef your topsail.

Oh, your slender little hands they couldn't handle our tackle,
And your delicate feet to our top mast can't go
Your little behind, love, would freeze in the wind, love,
I would have you at home when the stormy winds do blow.

So fare you well, my lovely Nancy, since now I must leave you
All for the West Indies I am bound for to steer
But though we are parted, my love, be true-hearted
And I will return in the spring of the year.


The Weeping Willow Tree


The Weeping Willow Tree was given to the Vermont collector Helen Hartness Flanders by Lena Bourne "Grammy" Fish of E. Jaffrey, NH. Since this version of The Golden Vanity has a twist in the tail, folklorists have suggested that Mrs. Fish rewrote the ending. I learned it from my dear friend the late Margaret MacArthur of Marlboro, VT.

A sailing ship was fashioned to sail the southern seas
Down in the Lowlands low,
She was handsome, she was tall, and as trim as trim could be
The name of the ship was the Weeping Willow Tree
This ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

Her crew were hearty seamen, as brave as brave could be
Lads from the Lowlands low,
Her decks were broad and wide, and as white as white could be
And on her sail was printed a weeping willow tree
In this ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

This worthy ship was chosen to sail the Spanish Main
Far from the Lowlands low,
Our captain he was shrewd, he was also proud and vain
And he hoped by his shrewd dealings a fortune for to gain
In this ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

As our ship was sailing all on the southern seas
Far from the Lowlands low,
We met a Spanish ship called the Royal Castilee
And they jeered at the crew of the Weeping Willow Tree
This ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

The captain called his cabin boy, as he had done before,
A lad from the Lowlands low,
He said, Boy, you can swim, and your stroke is swift and sure
That sassy Spanish ship, she'll never reach the shore
You'll sink her in the ocean low, low, low,
You'll sink her in the ocean low.

In your hand you'll take an augur, and swim to her side
For we're from the Lowlands low,
And there you'll bore a hole, and you'll bore it deep and wide
For five hundred pounds in gold and to be first mate besides
You'll sink her in the ocean low, low, low,
You'll sink her in the ocean low.

So that was the end of the Royal Castilee
She sank in the ocean low,
Her lofty sails so high and her haughty air so free
They were buried in the depths of the raging southern sea
We sunk her in the ocean low, low, low,
We sunk her in the ocean low.

The cabin boy exclaimed, Sir, I now demand my fee
You knave from the Lowlands low,
Five hundred pounds in gold you now must give to me
And I also am first mate of the Weeping Willow Tree
This ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

You'll get no gold from me, boy, for causing this wreck
You thief from the Lowlands low,
And he took the cabin boy by the nap of the neck
And he threw him overboard from the Weeping Willow's deck
He threw him in the ocean low, low, low,
He threw him in the ocean low.

Ah, but he still carried the augur as he had done before
The lad from the Lowlands low,
His heart was full of vengeance and his stroke was swift and sure
Instead of boring one hole, he bored twenty-four
In that ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

This ship was two hundred leagues from the shore
Far from the Lowlands low,
The captain and his crew they never reached the shore
And the wilds seemed to say, Fare thee well for evermore
To that ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.

But one brave hearty seaman escaped the raging sea
'Twas the lad from the Lowlands low,
He was picked up by a ship, so it has been told to me
And he told to us the tale of the Weeping Willow Tree
That ship built in the Lowlands, Lowlands low,
Born to ride the waves, hi, ho.


The Boatman's Cure


My friend and neighbor George Ward wrote The Boatman's Cure, based on research he did on the history of the "bateau," the vessel used along the Mohawk River for exploration and trade in the 18th century.

Poling up the river in a three-hand boat,
Too deep to carry, too shallow to float,
Too deep to carry, too shallow to float.
If it doesn't lift your spirits it'll leave you numb
Best cure for the river is a bottle of rum,
Best cure for the river is a bottle of rum.

Listen to the forwarder struttin' on the quay,
He's quick to tell the boatman how the river will be.
…Best cure for the forwarder…

Workin' up the rift the current swung her round,
Bedbugs swum ashore, poor boatman nearly got drowned.
…Best cure for bedbugs…

Sweatin' in the heat of day, chillin' in the rain,
Sleepin' in the open got the ague again.
…Best cure for the ague…

Frostbite in November took my toes away,
Devil take the blackfly 'bout the last week in May.
…Best cure for the blackfly…

Sweet Annie from Schenectady, she stole my heart,
Her face is in the firelight, the river sings her part.
…Best cure for a woman…

Got a callus on my shoulder and my hands are sore,
Sweetest sight some thirsty frontier girl ever saw.
…Best cure for wisdom…

I fought all through this wilderness in '59
Still fancy I see shadows moving most of the time.
…Best cure for shadows…

Morning comes up early for a fast bateau,
Shoulder to the setting pole, you push off and go.
…But there ain't no cure for living in a bottle of rum.


Short Jacket and White Trousers


Short Jacket and White Trousers is another song from the repertoire of A. L. Lloyd; I don't know his source.

Short Jacket and white trousers this young girl she put on
And like a gallant seaman bold went rambling through the down
She did engage with our Captain Blair a sailor for to be
And it's all for to seek her own true love far across the raging sea.

One night as she sat drowsing, she was ready for her bed
The captain heaved a sigh and said, Oh I wish you were a maid
Your cherry cheeks and ruby lips, they have beguilèd me
And I've often wished with all my heart my sweetheart you could be.

Oh hold your tongue dear captain, such talk is all in vain
And if our shipmates came to know, they would make sport and game
But when that we do go ashore some pretty girls we'll find
To ramble along with us brave lads, since you're that way inclined.

It's about a few days after, we docked in Baltimore
This maid appeared in her petticoats, which made our captain roar
She said, A sailor I have been at sea but a maid I'm going ashore
And you missed your chance dear captain so adieu forever more.


Sir Patrick Spens


I learned Nic Jones' version of Sir Patrick Spens quite a few years ago when I was asked to sing some ballad examples in an English class at Union College. It lay dormant for a while, but I gradually started wondering if I could work out a concertina arrangement for it.

Now the king sits in Dunfermline town
A-drinking the blood red wine
And where can I get me a good mariner
To sail seven ships of mine
Up then spoke an old, old man
A-sitting at the king's right knee
He says Sir Patrick Spens is the best mariner
That ever sailed on the sea.

So the king he has written a broad letter
And signed it with his hand
And he's sent it to Sir Patrick Spens
A walking all on the strand
And the very first line that Patrick he read
A little laugh then gave he
But the very next line that Patrick he read
The salt tears blinded his eye.

Oh who is him that's done this deed
And told the king on me
For never was I a good mariner
And never do intend to be
Late yestreen I saw the new moon
The old moon in her arms
And I fear, I fear a deadly storm
Our little ship'll come to harm.

But rise up rise up my merry men all
Our little ship she sails with the dawn
Whether it's windy or whether it's wet
Or whether there's a deadly storm
And they had not sailed a league, a league
A league but barely nine
When the wind and the wet and the sleet and snow
Come a blowing up behind.

Oh where can I get me a little cabin boy
To take the helm in hand
While I climb up to the top of the mast
To see if I can't spy land
Come down, come down Sir Patrick Spens
We fear that we all must die
For in and out of the good ship's hull
The wind and the ocean fly.

And the very first step that Patrick he took
The water came up to his knee
And the very next step that Patrick he took
They drownded they were in the sea
Many was the fine feather bed
A-floating on the foam
And many was the little lords sons
That never, never more came home.

Oh long, long may the ladies sit
With their fans all in their hands
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
A-walking on the strand
It's fifty miles from Aberdeen shore
It's fifty fathoms deep
And there does lie Sir Patrick Spens
With the little lords at his feet.

Let the Bulgine Run


Oh The smartest packet you can find
Ah Hee! Ah Ho! Are you most done
Is the old Wildcat of the Swallowtail Line
So clear away the track and let the bulgine run.
With a Hey Rig-a-jig, in a jaunting car
Ah Hee! Ah Ho! Are you most done
With Liza Lee all on my knee
Oh, clear away the track and let the bulgine run.

Now the old Wildcat of the Swallowtail Line
She's never a day behind her time.

We're outward bound for New York Town
Them Bowery gals we'll waltz around.

And when we dock at the South Street Pier
We'll all go ashore and have some beer.

Hog-Eye Man


Oh, who's been here since I've been gone,
A railroad navvy with his sea-boots on.
With a hog-eye, Steady on the jib with a hog-eye
Row the boat ashore with a hog-eye-o
She wants the hog-eye man.

Now the hog-eye sailors roll and go
When they come down to San Francisco.

Oh Sally's in the garden shellin' peas,
Her golden hair hangs down to her knees.

And Sally's in the parlor a-sittin' on his knee,
Kissin' the sailor come from sea.

A hog-eye ship and a hog-eye crew,
A hog-eye mate and skipper too.

So fetch me down my riding cane,
For I'm off to see my darling Jane.

When we get back to Liverpool town
I'll stand you whiskies all around.

When I get home across the sea Eliza will you marry me?

The Black Cook


A collation of Newfoundland and Pennsylvania variants.

Come listen a while and I'll sing you a ditty,
Of an eminent doctor who lived in Cork town,
By seamen so bold he was fairly outwitted,
And fifty bright guineas he had to lay down.
Three jolly Jack Tars and their messmates, so groggy,
Their money all spent, and their credit far gone,
From Patrick Street to the quayside they rambled,
They were bent to procure it, some money for fun.

Now the cook of the ship, being one of the party,
A smart lad he was and his color was black,
With wit and contrivement he always was ready
And soon found a way to get cash in a crack.
Said he to his messmates: I've heard people talking,
A corpse can be sold very readily here,
So take me alive, wrap me up in your hammock,
And sell me to buy all your whiskey and beer.

The sailors agreed, and accepted the offer,
And off to the house where the doctor did dwell,
And into his ears they so boldly did whisper,
Saying: Doctor, we've got a fine corpse here to sell.
A corpse! said the doctor, like one in amazement,
Oh where did you get it? Come tell me, I pray.
If you'll bring it here I will buy it quite ready
And fifty bright guineas to you I will pay.

Well the sailors agreed, and accepted the offer,
And it's back to the ship, oh, they quickly did steer.
Come listen awhile, and pay great attention,
And the rest of my story you quickly shall hear.
They took the black cook, tied him up in his hammock,
But he being a lad both sturdy and strong,
It's under his waistcoat, by way of protection,
He carried a blade about half a yard long.

It's round about midnight, the streets were deserted,
The sailors set off with the cook on their back,
And into the house, oh, they boldly did enter,
And in the back room they concealed the poor black.
The doctor soon paid the bold seamen their money,
They told him the cook, he had died on the sea,
And rather than have his dead body to bury
We've sold him to you, sir, now he's out of our way.

Well, the doctor soon went for some knives to dissect him,
And then came downstairs with the tools in his hand,
When he came to the room where the corpse had been lying
The black stood before him with cutlass in hand.
The doctor cried out, like one in amazement,
A-thinking the corpse was in very rich prime,
With a voice loud as thunder the black he approached him,
Crying: Damn your eyes, doctor, I'll dissect you alive!

Well, the doctor was forced to retreat in a hurry,
And of his late bargain was soon to lament,
And Jack hurried off to where his comrades were drinking,
And the rest of the evening was merrily spent.


The Saucy Sailor


Frankie Armstrong and Maddy Prior both recorded The Saucy Sailor, adapting a Somerset tune collected by Sharp. Mine is a variant of a different tune family from the same collection.

Come, my dear one, come, my fair one,
Come and tell it unto me;
Could you fancy a poor sailor boy
That's just come from the sea?

You are ragged, love, and you're dirty, love
Your clothes, they smell of tar
So begone, you saucy sailor boy
So begone, you Jack Tar.

If I'm ragged, love, if I'm dirty, love
If my clothes, they smell of tar
Then I've silver in my pockets, love,
And gold in great store.

And when she heard these words come from him,
On her bended knee she fell,
I will marry my dear sailor boy
For I love him right well.

Do you think that I am foolish, love
Do you think that I am mad
Fot to wed with a poor country girl
Where no fortune's to be had.

I will cross the briny ocean, love
I will whistle, I will sing.
And since you've refused the offer, love,
Some other shall have the ring.

For I'm young, love, and I'm frolicsome
I'm good-tempered, kind and free
And I don't care a single pin, my boys
What the world thinks of me.


The Old Figurehead Carver


The Old Figurehead Carver started out as a poem by Hiram Cody of Fredericton, New Brunswick, referring to the famous clipper Marco Polo launched in 1851 in nearby Saint John. My friend Dick Swain gave the poem a tune and added a marvelous chorus.

I have done my share of carving figureheads of quaint design
For the Olives and the Ruddicks and the famous Black Ball Line
Brigantines and barks and clippers, brigs and schooners, lithe and tall
But the bounding Marco Polo was the flower of them all.
While my hands are steady, while my eyes are good,
I will carve the music of the wind into the wood.

I can see that white-winged clipper reeling under scudding clouds
Tramping down a hazy skyline with a Norther in her shrouds
I can feel her lines of beauty, see her flecked with spume and brine
As she drives her scuppers under, and that figurehead of mine.

'Twas of seasoned pine I made it, clear from outer bark to core
From the finest piece of timber, from the mast-pond on Straight Shore
Every bite of axe or chisel, every ringing mallet welt
Wrought from out that block of timber all the spirit that I felt.

I had read of Marco Polo, til his daring deeds were mine
And I say them all a-glowing in that balsam-scented pine
Saw his eyes alight with purpose, facing every vagrant breeze
Saw him lilting free and careless over all the seven seas.

That was how I did my carving, beat of heart and stroke of hand
Putting into life and action all the purpose that I planned
Flowing robes and wind-tossed tresses, forms of beauty, strength, design
I saw them all and tried to carve them in that figurehead of mine.

And when my hands are feeble, and my outward eyes grow dim
I will see again those clippers reeling o'er the ocean's rim
Great white fleet of sailing rovers, wind above and surf beneath
With the Marco Polo leading, and my carving in her teeth.

What Fortunes Guide a Sailor


Another friend, Gina Dunlap, took the well-known song How Can I Keep From Singing, and wrote a new set of verses on a whaling theme: What Fortunes Guide a Sailor.

We're bound away upon the tide
To leave our friends behind us
Haul anchor chains and slip away
To break the ties that bind us.
Fast on the breeze to the northern seas
What fortunes guide a sailor?
To earn a share of the oil and bone
'Tis a hard life for a whaler.

Through many dangers unforeseen
And bitter storms to try us
Cold icy winds and towering waves
The faintest star to guide us.
When darkening skies around us close
'Neath Greenland's cliffs forsaken
Ten thousand miles away from home
And hearts are nearly breaking.

And when at last we hear the cry
And all in wild commotion
The cutting blast, and down she dives
In that dreary troubled ocean.
And when that whale has breathed her last
And sea-birds left to grieve her
We'll hoist the sails and steer for home
And it's, Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her.

Leave Her Johnny


Leave Her Johnny is a popular chantey often sung round the capstan at the end of the voyage.

Now the times was hard and the wages low
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
But now once more ashore we'll go.
And it's time for us to leave her.
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
Oh, Leave her, Johnny, leave her
For the voyage is done and the winds don't blow
And it's time for us to leave her.

She would not wear, she would not stay,
She shipped it green both night and day.

It was rotten meat and weevily bread
You'll eat it or starve, the old man said.

The winds were foul, all work no play
To the Davis Strait and back to the quay.

I thought I heard the old man say
You may go ashore and get your pay.

It's time for us to say goodbye
For the old pierhead is drawing nigh.

    
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