"I was in a hooker once," said Karlssen, "And Bill, as was a seaman, died, So we lashed him in an old tarpaulin And tumbled him across the side; And the fun of it was that all his gear was Divided up among the crew Before that blushing human error Our crawling little captain, knew. "On the passage home one morning (As certain as I prays for grace) There was old Bill's shadder a-hauling At the [mizzen weather]1 topsail brace. He was all grown green with seaweed He was all lashed up and shored; So I says to him, I says, 'Why, Billy! What's a-bringin' of you back aboard?' "'I'm a-weary of them there mermaids,' Says old Bill's ghost to me; 'It ain't no place for a Christian Below there -- under sea. For it's all blown sand and shipwrecks And old bones eaten bare, And them cold fishy females With long green weeds for hair. "'And there ain't no dances shuffled, And no old yarns is spun, And there ain't no stars but starfish, And never any moon or sun. I heard your keel a-passing And the running rattle of the brace, And I says, "Stand by,"' says William, '"For a shift towards a better place."' "Well, he sogered about decks till sunrise, When a rooster in the hen-coop crowed, And as so much smoke he faded, And as so much smoke he goed; And I've often wondered since, Jan, How his old ghost stands to fare Long o' them cold fishy females With long green weeds for hair."
1 Keel: "weather mizzen"
- by John Masefield (1878 - 1967), "Cape Horn Gospel", appears in Salt Water Ballads, first published 1902 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by Jeanne M. Boyd (1890 - ?), "Cape Horn Gospel", published 1945. [voice and piano] [text not verified]
- by J. Frederick Keel (1871 - 1954), "Cape Horn Gospel" [voice and piano], from Four Salt-Water Ballads, no. 4. [text verified 1 time]
- by Samuel R. Lewis , "Cape Horn Gospel", published <<1940. [text not verified]
Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Mike Pearson
This text was added to the website: 2008-10-23
Line count: 40
Word count: 259