Salt Water Ballads

Song Cycle by Marshall H. Barnes (b. 1921)

Word count: 704

?. I must go down to the seas again [sung text not yet checked]

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the 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 shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas 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 flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume and the seagulls crying.

I must go down to the seas 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]1 from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: first published in Speaker (Feb. 1902)
1 Ireland: "tale"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

?. Rest her soul, she's dead [sung text not yet checked]

She has done with the sea's sorrow and all the world's way
And the wind's grief;
Strew her with laurel, cover her with bay
And ivy-leaf.
Let the slow mournful music sound before her,
Strew the white flowers about the bier, and o'er her
The sleepy poppies red beyond belief.

On the black velvet covering her eyes
Let the dull earth be thrown;
Hers is the mightier silence of the skies,
And long, quiet rest alone.
Over the pure, dark, wistful eyes of her,
O'er all the human, all that dies of her,
Gently let flowers be strown.

Lay her away in quiet old peaceful earth
(This blossom of ours),
She has done with the world's anger and the world's mirth,
Sunshine and rain-showers;
And over the poor, sad, tired face of her,
In the long grass above the place of her
(The grass which hides the glory and the grace of her),
May the Spring bring the flowers.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Mother Carey [sung text not yet checked]

     (as told me by the bo'sun)

Mother Carey? She's the mother o' the witches
  'N' all them sort o' rips;
She's a fine gell to look at, but the hitch is,
  She's a sight too fond of ships;
She lives upon an iceberg to the norred,
  'N' her man he's Davy Jones,
'N' she combs the weeds upon her forred
  With pore [drowned]1 sailors' bones.

She's the mother o' the wrecks, 'n' the mother
  Of all big winds as blows;
She's up to some deviltry or other
  When it storms, or sleets, or snows;
The noise of the wind's her screamin',
  'I'm arter a plump, young, fine,
[Brass-buttoned, beefy-ribbed]2 young seam'n
  So as me 'n' my mate kin dine.'

She's a hungry old rip 'n' a cruel
  For sailor-men like we,
She's give a many mariners the gruel
  'N' a long sleep under sea;
She's the blood o' many a crew upon her
  'N' the bones of many a wreck,
'N' she's barnacles a-growin' on her
  'N' shark's teeth round her neck.

I ain't never had no schoolin'
  Nor read no books like you,
But I knows ['t]3 ain't healthy to be foolin'
  With that there gristly two;
You're young, you thinks, 'n' you're lairy,
  But if you're to make old bones,
Steer clear, I says, o' Mother Carey,
  'N' that there Davy Jones.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Speaker, 1902
1 Keel: "drown'd"
2 Keel: "Brass-button’d, beefy-ribb’d"
3 Keel: "it"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Mike Pearson

?. A valediction [sung text not yet checked]

We're bound for blue water where the great winds blow,
It's time to get the tacks aboard, time for us to go;
The crowd's at the capstan and the tune's in the shout,
"A long pull, a strong pull, and warp the hooker out."

The bow-wash is eddying, spreading from the bows,
Aloft and loose the topsails and some one give a rouse;
A salt-Atlantic chanty shall be music to the dead,
"A long pull, a strong pull, and the yard to the masthead."

Shrilly squeal the running sheaves, the weather-gear strains,
Such a clatter of chain-sheets, the devil's in the chains;
Over us the bright stars, under us the drowned,
"A long pull, a strong pull, and we're outward bound."

Yonder, round and ruddy, is the mellow old moon,
The red-funnelled tug has gone, and now, sonny, soon
We'll be clear of the Channel, so watch how you steer,
"Ease her when she pitches, and so-long, my dear."

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]