by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)

Mother Carey
Language: English 
     (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.

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"

Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)


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

This text was added to the website: 2008-12-30
Line count: 33
Word count: 225