by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)

Hell's pavement
Language: English 
"When I'm discharged at Liverpool 'n' draws my bit o' pay,
I won't come to sea no more;
I'll court a pretty little lass 'n' have a weddin' day,
'N' settle somewhere down shore;
I'll never fare to sea again a-temptin' Davy Jones,
A-hearkening to the cruel sharks a-hungerin' for my bones;
I'll run a blushin' dairy-farm or go a-crackin' stones,
Or buy 'n' keep a little liquor-store."
                                        So he said.

They towed her in to Liverpool, we made the hooker fast,
And the copper-bound [official]1 paid the crew,
And Billy drew his money, but the money didn't last,
For he painted the alongshore blue,
It was rum for Poll, and rum for Nan, and gin for Jolly Jack;
He shipped a week later in the clothes upon his back;
He had to pinch a little straw, he had to beg a sack
To sleep on, when his watch was through,
                                        So he did.

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Speaker, September 1902
1 Keel: "officials"


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in English, [adaptation] ; composed by Paul Walford Corder.

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

This text was added to the website: 2008-12-30
Line count: 18
Word count: 154