Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeetta

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)

Related threads:
Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield) (4)
A letter from John Masefield (19)
Lyr Add: Mother Carey (John Masefield) (24)
Lyr Add: Ballad of John Silver, A (John Masefield) (38)
Lyr Add: Pier-Head Chorus (John Masefield) (1)
Poetry: The West Wind (John Masefield) (9)
Lyr Add: Hell's Pavement (John Masefield sea poem) (9)


Charley Noble 28 May 11 - 10:58 AM
Charley Noble 28 May 11 - 11:06 AM
Artful Codger 28 May 11 - 05:01 PM
Artful Codger 28 May 11 - 05:53 PM
kendall 28 May 11 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 28 May 11 - 07:47 PM
Charley Noble 28 May 11 - 08:29 PM
Charley Noble 29 May 11 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 29 May 11 - 12:31 PM
Charley Noble 29 May 11 - 03:07 PM
dick greenhaus 29 May 11 - 03:41 PM
Charley Noble 29 May 11 - 05:07 PM
Charley Noble 30 May 11 - 10:42 AM
Artful Codger 30 May 11 - 03:33 PM
Artful Codger 30 May 11 - 04:22 PM
Charley Noble 30 May 11 - 07:51 PM
Charley Noble 31 May 11 - 09:05 AM
mally 31 May 11 - 02:31 PM
Charley Noble 31 May 11 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,alan Whittle 01 Jun 11 - 12:32 AM
Charley Noble 01 Jun 11 - 07:56 AM
Charley Noble 03 Jun 11 - 09:33 AM
Charley Noble 04 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 11 - 10:32 AM
Charley Noble 06 Jun 11 - 08:57 AM
Tug the Cox 06 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM
Charley Noble 06 Jun 11 - 01:36 PM
Big Al Whittle (closed) 06 Jun 11 - 02:44 PM
Tug the Cox 07 Jun 11 - 08:52 AM
Charley Noble 08 Jun 11 - 09:05 AM
Charley Noble 09 Jun 11 - 08:30 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:




Subject: John Masefield-Songs from Poems
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 May 11 - 10:58 AM

The sea poems of John Masefield have attracted the attention of singers ever since they were published in the early 20th century, and the process of adapting such poems for singing has been a process continuing to the present day. I will begin this perma thread by posting some of the poems as set to music by Andy Kenna of Liverpool Forebitter, some poems I've adapted myself, and poems adapted by others.

I would welcome other contributions and comments but if you are posting poems that have been adapted for singing please follow this format:

The original poem and a literary reference.

The poem as adapted for singing with chords, if possible a link to a MP3 sample of how it is sung, and a credit to the artist.

In some cases there are alternative adaptations, which is fine. Some singers prefer to stick to the text of the original poem, some make slight wording changes, while some add chorus or refrains, or drop or add entire lines or verses. All contributions are welcome for discussion, civil discussion; I will delete what I consider "uncivil discussion" or posts that stray too far from the major purpose of this perma thread.

Here's an appropriate song to launch this thread titled "Pier-Head Chorus":

From Salt Water Poems And Ballads, John Masefield, published by The Macmillan Co., NY, © 1912, p. 51.

A Pier-Head Chorus
(John Masefield)

Oh I'll be chewing salted horse and biting flinty bread,
And dancing with the stars to watch, upon the fo'c's'le head,
Hearkening to the bow-wash and the welter of the tread
Of a thousand tons of clipper running free.

For the tug has got the tow-rope and will take us to the Downs,
Her paddles churn the river-wrack to muddy greens and browns,
And I have given river-wrack and all the filth of towns
For the rolling, combing cresters of the sea.

We'll sheet the mizzen-royals home and shimmer down the Bay,
The sea-line blue with billows, the land-line blurred and grey;
The bow-wash will be piling high and thrashing into spray,
As the hooker's fore-foot tramples down the swell.

She'll log a giddy seventeen and rattle out the reel,
The weight of all the run-out line will be a thing to feel,
As the bacca-quidding shell-back shambles aft to take the wheel,
And the sea-sick little middy strikes the bell.


Notes:

A classic "outward bound" poem!

"Salted horse" is how the sailors often referred to the preserved meat they were served.

"Rattle out the reel" is a reference to how the speed of a sailing ship was determined by use of the log-line.

Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar in 2007, as recorded on Old Sailor-Poets, © 2007 (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords)
Tune: after Little Black Train

A PIER-HEAD CHORUS-2
(John Masefield)

C-------------------F---C
Now I'll be chew-ing salt horse an' biting flinty bread,
F
Dancing with the stars upon the fo'c's'le head;
C--------------F---C
Harkening to the bow-wash an' the welter of the tread –
-----F--------------------------------------C
Of a thousand tons of clipper running free.


Chorus:

C---F---C------------F---C
For the tug has got the tow-rope, she'll lead us to the Downs,
-----F
Her paddles churn the river-wrack to muddy greens and browns;
----C-------------------F--C
But I have swapped the river-wrack an' all the filth of towns
---------F-------------------------------------C
For the rolling, surging, combers of the sea.
---------F---------------------------------G--C
For the rolling, surging, combers of the sea.


For we'll sheet her tops'ls home, glide on down the Bay,
The sea-line blue with billows, the land-line blurred an' grey;
The bow-wash will be piling high an' thrashing into spray,
As the clipper's fore-foot tramples down the swell. (CHO)

She'll log a giddy seventeen an' rattle out the reel,
The weight of all that run-out line will be a thing to feel,
As the bacca-chewing shellback shambles aft to take the wheel,
An' the sea-sick little middy strikes the bell. (CHO)

Here's a link to a MP3 sample of how this is sung: Click here for MP3 sample!

Here's an alternative setting for this poem as adapted for singing by Andy Kenna as recorded on Salt Water Ballads, Liverpool Forebitter, © 2002

A Pier-Head Chorus-3

C---------------------G--C--------------------------F
Oh I'll be chewing salt horse and biting flinty bread,
---------------------------C----------------------------F-C-----G
And dancing with the stars to watch, up-on the fo'c's'le head,
C---------------------G----C------------------------------F
Hearkening to the bow-wash and the welter of the tread
--------------------------C--------G--------C
Of a thousand tons of clipper running free.

Chorus:

----------G----C-----------------------------------F
'Cause we're rollin' (rollin'), rattlin' out the reel;
-----------------------------------C-----------------------F----C--G
As the bacca-quidding shell-back shambles aft to take the wheel;
-----------------C----------------------------------------F
'Cause we're rollin' (rollin'), to the welter of the tread,
-----------------------------------C---------------------------G-----C
An' we'll bid farewell to the Mersey, lads, an' the old pier-head!



For the tug has got the tow-rope and will take us to the Downs,
Her paddles churn the river-wrack to muddy greens and browns,
And I have given river-wrack and all the filth of towns
For the rolling, combing cresters of the sea. (CHO)

We'll sheet the mizzen-royals home and shimmer down the Bay,
The sea-line blue with billows, lads, the land-line blurred and grey;
The bow-wash will be piling high and thrashing into spray,
As the hooker's fore-foot tramples down the swell. (CHO)

She'll log a giddy seventeen and rattle out the reel,
The weight of all that run-out line will be a thing to feel,
As the bacca-quidding shell-back shambles aft to take the wheel,
And the sea-sick little middy strikes the bell. (CHO)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble

      This is an edited PermaThread® to document the sources of the poem-songs of John Masefield. This thread will be edited by Charley Noble. Feel free to post to this thread, but remember that all messages posted here are subject to editing or deletion.
      -Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 May 11 - 11:06 AM

Here's Masefield's tribute to a typical sailor's spree in Sailortown:

From Salt Water Poems & Ballads, by John Masefield, The MacMillan Co., NY, © 1916, pp. 38-39.

A Night at Dago Tom's
(John Masefield)

Oh yesterday, I t'ink it was, while cruisin' down the street,
I met with Bill. — "Hullo," he says, "let's give the girls a treat."
We'd red bandanas round our necks 'n' our shrouds new rattled down,
So we filled a couple of Santy Cruz and cleared for Sailor Town.

We scooted south with a press of sail till we fetched to a caboose,
The "Sailor's Rest," by Dago Tom, alongside "Paddy's Goose."
Red curtains to the windies, ay, 'n' white sand to the floor,
And an old blind fiddler liltin' the tune of "Lowlands No More."

He played the "Shaking of the Sheets" 'n' the couples did advance,
Bowing, stamping, curtsying, in the shuffling of the dance;
The old floor rocked and quivered, so it struck beholders dumb,
'N' afterwards there was sweet songs 'n' good Jamaikey rum.

'N' there was many a merry yarn of many a merry spree
Aboard the ships with royals set a-sailing on the sea,
Yarns of the hooker Spindrift, her as had the clipper-bow, —
"There ain't no ships," says Bill to me, "like that there hooker now."

When the old blind fiddler played the tune of "Pipe the Watch Below,"
The skew-eyed landlord dowsed the glim and bade us "stamp 'n' go,"
'N' we linked it home, did Bill 'n' I, adown the scattered streets,
Until we fetched to Land o' Nod atween the linen sheets.

Notes:

"Santy Cruz" is of course a reference to bottles of rum.

"Doused the glim" is to turn down the wick of a lantern.

Here's the song:

Adapted for singing by Andy Kenna as recorded on Salt Water Ballads, Liverpool Forebitter, © 2002 with minor word changes by Charlie Ipcar, 5/27/2011 (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

A NIGHT AT DAGO TOM'S-2
(John Masefield)

C--------------------------G-C-----------G---------------G7
Now yesterday, I think it was, while cruisin' down the street,
--------------------------------------------------C--------------F-C
I met with Bill. — "Hullo," says he, "let's give the gals a treat!"
-------G--C-------------------------------F-----------------------
Red ban-danas round our necks, our shrouds new rattled down,
-----C-------G-C------G--C-------------------------------G7
We nabbed a couple of Santy Cruz, and cleared for Sailor Town –
------C------------------G-C------G--C----------G--------------------G7
We cleared for Sail-or Town, me boys, we cleared for Sailor Town,
-----C------G-C-------G-C------------F----C-------------F---G--C
We nabbed a couple of Santy Cruz, and cleared for Sail-or Town.

We scooted south with a press of sail till we fetched to a caboose,
The "Sailor's Rest" at Dago Tom's, 'longside "Paddy's Goose" –
Red curtains in the windies, white sand upon the floor,
And an old blind fiddler liltin' a tune of "Lowlands, No More" –
Of "Lowlands, No More," me boys, of "Lowlands, No More,"
And an old blind fiddler liltin' a tune of "Lowlands, No More."

He played the "Shaking of the Sheets" and the couples did advance,
Bowing, stamping, curtsying, in the shuffling of the dance –
The old floor shook and shivered, it struck beholders dumb,
And afterwards we sang sweet songs and drank Jamaikey rum –
And drank Jamaikey rum, me boys, and drank Jamaikey rum.
And afterwards we sang sweet songs and drank Jamaikey rum.

And many the merry yarn we spun of many the merry spree,
Aboard our ships with all royals set a-sailing on the sea,
Yarns of the flying Spindrift, her as had the clipper-bow, —
"There ain't no ships," says Bill to me, "like that there hooker now" –
"Like that there hooker now," me boys, "like that there hooker now,"
"There ain't no ships," says Bill to me, "like that there hooker now."

When the old blind fiddler struck up the tune "Pipe the Watch Below,"
The skew-eyed landlord dowsed the glim and bade us "stamp 'n' go" –
So we linked arms, did Bill and I, and staggered down the street,
Until we found two doxies, aye, to lay beneath the sheets –
To lay beneath the sheets, me boys, to lay beneath the sheets,
Until we found two doxies, aye, to lay beneath the sheets.

I especially like Andy's change in wording for the last line of the poem; "Land o' Nod" just doesn't cut it!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 May 11 - 05:01 PM

"Captain Stratton's Fancy" was set nicely by Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) in 1921. The poem was published in Masefield's The Story of a Round-house, 1912.

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2rKVPUrR_s
I believe the track was taken from A Warlock Centenary Album and was sung by Robert Lloyd.

And here is a different setting, composer unidentified, sung by Nelson Eddy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1akP0PknN3Y

Captain Stratton was an officer in the British navy who carried on a sideline trading rum and other commodities with pirates in the Caribbean (at an exorbitant markup!). He was turned in by one of his mates, though not until after having reputedly buried a large sum in gold somewhere near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay; his treasure is not known to have been recovered.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sea Fever (Masefield)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 May 11 - 05:53 PM

"Sea Fever" is in the DT; there must be a thread about it, too, considering the number of people who have set it, in both "folk" and "art" settings. The most famous setting was by John Ireland; he also set "Cargoes" and doubtless other Masefield poems.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: kendall
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:37 PM

I'm still reciting The Loch Arcre, my favorite Masefield poem. I hope no one ever puts it to music, it is so powerful as a poem.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 May 11 - 07:47 PM

I know that Charley's well aware of my effort. But in case no one else has heard it here's my shot at "The Ballad of John Silver." I changed some words, and added a chorus. Sacrilege! arhhhh!

http://www.bigalwhittle.co.uk/id24.html


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 May 11 - 08:29 PM

A nice response and, yes, I can see that there will be a number of competing versions. And I don't expect everyone to do chords and/or a MP3 link but if you can that would be great.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 May 11 - 10:13 AM

Art-

"Sea Fever" has understandably attracted a lot of attention from singers. Andy Kenna also has an especially nice tune for this poem on his CD listed above, which actually revived my interest in the poem. There are over 12 different settings via YouTube.

Alan-

Would you please post your revised lyrics, with chords, for your version of "The Ballad of John Silver."

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 29 May 11 - 12:31 PM

Do you think any people will be interested in singing my version? I feel all grown up - like a real folksinger! Writing out chords for my own song. I'm sorry it looks okay in this little box but the first line comes out wrong Its D on schooner in the first line, which changes to G on the word 'long'. Similarly on the line we each had a brace of pistils theres a D on Had and a A7 on hip.

Its a three chord trick - complicated by the fact that the three chords are in DADGAD (which makes my version a bit ponderous in my book!)

A Ballad of John Silver
(John Masefield with ammendments and a tune and chorus from Alan Whittle)
                                                                            d                                  g
We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
       D                              a7
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
       d                      g
Yes our Jolly Roger flapping, gamely at the fore,
   d                                  a7            d
We sailed the Spanish Waters, in the jolly days of yore.
       a7                                    
We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,                                                                        d                                             a7
We each had, a brace of pistols and a cutlass at our hip;
      d                                     g
Oh we were such naughty pirates,   you will certainly deplore
                                                                        d                                     a7                d
We chased   goody goody merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.
(Improvised arghhh!)Chorus
   A7
Oh cut and let rip!
       d
Was the way on Flints old ship
    D                a7
Cos dead men tell no tales
   d
Oh Me and Billy Bones
            g
We sent 'em down to Davy Jones
                               a7               d
Weren't we the jolliest gang o' cutthroats under sail


Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,
And the pale survivors left us by walking of the plank.
Then while standing by the taffrail, lounging on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken-coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a jolly hornpipe, like pirates tend to do
Chorus
O! the fiddle on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!"
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not real looking, but his pipe-bowl glowing red.
Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the rotten tricks we played,
They've all been put a stop-to, by that nasty Board of Trade;
The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south of sunset, in the Islands of the Blest.
So every setting of the sun
I fills me glass right up with rum
We as survived – our beards are old and grey
But we remember plain as print
Our dear Old Captain Flint, and his very genial orders of the day
(music and chorus and amendments to John Masefield's lyric by Alan Whittle ©December 2007)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:07 PM

Alan-

Things never quite line up here for chords on Mudcat. That's why I do it first in WORD/TIMES/12 and then suggest to folks that they copy and paste into that in hopes of lining up things again.

I'm sure that old John Silver would have approved of your chorus.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 29 May 11 - 03:41 PM

Not by, but about Masefield:

SEA CHILL
(Arthur Guiterman)

(News item, ca 1928:
"When Mrs. John Masefield and her husband, the author of "I
must go down to the seas again", arrived here on a liner, she said
to a reporter, "It was too uppy-downy, and Mr. Masefield was
ill.")

I must go down to the seas again, where the billows romp and reel,
And all I ask is a large ship that rides on an even keel,
And a mild breeze and a broad deck with a slight list to leeward,
And a clean chair in a snug nook and a nice, kind, steward.

I must go down to the seas again, the sport of wind and tide,
As the gray wave and the green wave play leap-frog over the side.
And all I want is a glassy calm with a bone-dry scupper,
A good book and a warm rug and a light, plain supper.

I must go down to the seas again, though there I'm a total loss
And can't say which is worse, the pitch, the plunge, the roll, the toss.
But all I ask is a safe retreat in a bar well tended,
And a soft berth and a smooth course 'till the long trip's ended.

@parody @water @sailor
see also SEAFEVER, SEAFVR3
filename[ SEACHILL


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 May 11 - 05:07 PM

Thnaks, Dick.

I bet there are a lot of parodies but I hope that people resist posting more of them. I swear never to post mine!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 May 11 - 10:42 AM

Here's the original poem "A Ballad of John Silver" by John Masefield:

A Ballad of John Silver
(John Masefield)

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

O! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken-coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

O! the fiddle on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!"
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.

Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop-to by the naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the Islands of the Blest.

Notes:

From SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, edited by John Masefield, published by The Macmillan Company, New York, US, © 1921, pp. 64-65.

Here's my current version as adapted for singing (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

Adapted by Charles Ipcar, 10/3/07
After "On the Range of the Buffalo"

A BALLAD OF JOHN SILVER
(John Masefield)

Dm-------------------------------Gm------------Dm-------------Am-Dm
We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and slend-or hull,
---------------------------------------------Am--------------------Dm
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
----------------------------------------------Am------------Dm
We'd a big black Jolly Roger, flapping boldly at the fore,
-------------------------------Gm-------------------Dm---------Am-Dm
And we sailed the Spanish Wa-a-ters in those happy days of yore.

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which weighs against us, and a fact to be deplored –
That we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid ourselves aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
They were boarded, they were looted, they were scuttled till they sank,
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a lively hornpipe, as the old salts taught us to;
Oh the fiddling on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping barefoot soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsy when she rolls!"

Ah! the pig-tailed, feisty pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop-to by the naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and their merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset – in the Islands of the Blest –
A little south the sunset – in the Islands of the Blest.

Here's a link to Jeff Logan of Roll & Go leading this song on Look Out!, © 2010: click here for website

Jeff does a more fast-paced full-throated version of this song than I was able to manage on my own CD, and we also had great fun with concertina, penny whistle and guitar.

Arrgggh,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Christmas Eve at Sea (John Masefield)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 May 11 - 03:33 PM

Re: "Christmas Eve at Sea"

Guest "julia" posted Masefield's poem "Christmas Eve at Sea" in the thread on songs about Christmas at sea, but she gave no indication whether this had been set (folk-style) as an actual song. The poem was published in Masefield's Salt Water Ballads (1915).

This lieder site lists quite a number of texts by Masefield which have been set to music:
The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Page: John Masefield
http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/m/masefield/

There are two settings listed there for "Christmas Eve at Sea": one by Frederick Ayres and one by Malcolm Gordon Davidson, the latter titled rather generically "A Christmas carol." Amazon.com has a sketchy listing for the Ayres setting. For what it's worth, Ayres lived most of his life in Colorado Springs, Colorado, more isolated from the sea than even that famous spawning ground of sea captains, the Czech Republic!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Vagabond (John Masefield)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 May 11 - 04:22 PM

The Lester S. Levy Collection has an online scan of the John Ireland setting of "Vagabond" ("Dunno a heap about the what an' why"), 1922. The poem appears in Salt Water Ballads (1902, though I've only found scans of the 1913 and 1915 editions); you can also find it published in The Spectator (magazine), Volume 90, 1903, in a review of the aforementioned book. The review is a delightful read, being an outright pan of the collection, which the reviewer finds too coarse and brutal in expression. Apparently, he imagines real sailors must while away their days gaily spit-polishing davit tackles and composing paeans to chaste maids and balmy zephyrs.

VAGABOND
   (John Masefield, 1902)

Dunno a heap about the what an' why,
   Can't say's I ever knowed.
Heaven to me's a fair blue stretch of sky,
   Earth's jest a dusty road.

Dunno the names o' things, nor what they are,
   Can't say's I ever will.
Dunno about God—he's jest the noddin' star
   Atop the windy hill.

Dunno about Life—it's jest a tramp alone
   From wakin'-time to doss.
Dunno about Death—it's jest a quiet stone
   All over-grey wi' moss.

An' why I live, an' why the old world spins,
   Are things I never knowed;
My mark's the gypsy fires, the lonely inns,
   An' jest the dusty road.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 May 11 - 07:51 PM

Masefield did serve as an apprentice under two brutal captains and certainly knew the realities of the common sailor. He actually jumped ship himself in New York City, finding work as a waiter at a waterfront dive, and later as a clerk at a shoe factory in New Jersey. Fortunately, he found his way back to England and eventually was able to support himself with his literary talents.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 May 11 - 09:05 AM

As Andy Kenna points out in his excellent notes, Salt Water Ballads when it was first published in 1902 was received with mixed reviews. Some critics thought the poems were "...vulgar and lacked poetic quality while others commended them for their insight into the seafarer's life and a haunting quality which belied their apparent simplicity."

Kenna actually got permission to set the poems he recorded to music from the Society of Authors as Literary Representatives of the Estate of John Masefield. The Society maintains a website for John Masefield which I'll provide a link to later when I get my new computer tomorrow and regain control over important aspects of my so-called life.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: mally
Date: 31 May 11 - 02:31 PM

John Masefield's poem Cargos fits very well to the tune of The Sailers Hornpipe I've found.

    Mally


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 May 11 - 05:26 PM

Mally-

Have you done a recording to that tune or do you know someone else who has done so?

Here's the poem in question:

Cargoes
(John Masefield)

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Notes:

From SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, edited by John Masefield, published by The Macmillan Co., New York, US, © 1944, p. 124; first published in SALT-WATER POEMS, © 1902.

I'm thinking that this poem could really use three different tunes, each one representing the culture of the verse.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: GUEST,alan Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 12:32 AM

Well i think, to a sailors hornpipe - it would sound borderline insane.

Not that I've got any aesthetic objection to 'insane sounding'. But this would be insane in the wrong way. One would sound like posh twit.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 07:56 AM

Setting poems to tunes is more than a mechanical process. One can shoehorn a poem into practically any tune but it won't necessarily be a good fit.

I like to read the poem over and over and see if there is some kind of rhythm which suggests a tune. For example with regard to C. Fox Smith, many of her poems fit nicely into "Sweet Betsy from Pike/The Old Orange Flute" which isn't exactly a good solution to the puzzle either.

Another criteria has to do with the setting of the poem; if it is traditional nautical setting with sailors, a traditional shanty or forebitter tune scores high.

If it is more of a nautical art song, then there is no clear solution. "Cargoes" is more of an art song to my mind, while "A Night at Dago Tom's" is more of a forebitter or foscle song.

Since many sea shanties or forebitters were inspired by the popular songs of the day, the minstrel or music hall songs, those tunes are also fair game. The broadside ballads are also something to mine.

By the time I get finished with reworking a tune, it sounds vaguely familiar rather than identical to what I began with.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Jun 11 - 09:33 AM

Here's another great outward bound poem:

A Valediction
(John Masefield)

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."

Green and merry run the seas, the wind comes cold,
Salt and strong and pleasant, and worth a mint of gold;
And she's staggering, swooping, as she feels her feet,
"A long pull, a strong pull, and aft the mainsheet!"

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."

Notes:

From SALT WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, John Masefield, published by The Macmillan Co., NY, © 1912, p. 49.

Here's the poem as adapted for singing by Andy Kenna as recorded on Salt Water Ballads, Liverpool Forebitter, © 2002 (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords)
Tune: after traditional "Ten Thousand Miles from Home"

A VALEDICTION-2
(John Masefield/Andy Kenna)

C---------------------------------------------F-------------C
We're bound for blue water where the great winds blow,
----F-----------------C------------------F---------------G
It's time to get the tacks aboard, it's time for us to go;
-----C-----------------------------------F--------------C
The crowd's at the capstan and the tune's in the shout,
----F-------------C------------------G---------G7------C
"A long pull, a strong pull, and warp the hooker out."


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

Green and merry run the seas, the wind comes cold,
Salt and strong and pleasant, lads, and worth a mint of gold;
She's staggering, she's swooping, as she finds her feet,
"A long pull, a strong pull, and aft the mainsheet!"

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

Andy sings this one at a leisurely pace backed up by concertina. I would strongly suggest picking up the pace but it's a fine musical setting.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM

While Masefield was learning as a young lad about seamanship aboard the training ship Conway, he was also absorbing the yarns from some of his older mentors, which became the inspiration for some of his poems such as this one:

Mother Carey (As told me by the bo'sun)
(John Masefield)

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 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 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 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.

Notes:

From Salt-Water Poems & Ballads, by John Masefield,
The MacMillan Company, Publishers, New York, 1913, pp. 46-47

"Brassbounder" is an apprentice officer on a merchant ship; in most shipping companies the apprentices wore caps with thin gold lacing binding them.

"Rip" a dissolute person

Here's the poem as adapted and set to music by Charles Ipcar, © 2009 (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords) and here's a link to how it's sung, with a great graphic of Mother Carey and a young brassbounder: click here for mP3 sample!

Tune: after "Johnnie o' Breadisley"

MOTHER CAREY-2
(John Masefield)

Dm------------F---C--------------Dm--------F----Dm
Now Mother Car-ey? She's the mother o' witch-es
-----C--------------F-C
An' all them sort o' rips;
------C-Dm-------------------------Dm7/Dm
She's a fine gal to look at but the hitch is –
---------C----------------F-C
She's a sight too fond of ships,
F----C-Dm--C---Am-C-Dm
She's a sight too fond of ships;
------C---Dm--------------------C
Now she lives on an ice-berg to the nor-red,
-----------Dm-------------F-C
With her flashman Dav-y Jones,
-----C--Dm---------------------C
An' she combs the weeds up-on her for-red
------Dm-------------F----C--Dm
With pore drowned sail-ors' bones,
F/C-Dm---C---------Am-C---Dm
With pore drowned sail-ors' bones.

She's the mother o' wrecks, an' the mother
O' all big winds as blows;
She's up to some deviltry or other
When it rains, or sleets, or snows,
When it rains, or sleets, or snows;
As the big winds blow you can hear her call,
"I wants a young man fine –
A brassbounder, beefy-ribbed an' all,
So me an' my mate kin dine,"
So me an' my mate kin dine.

She's a hungry old rip an' she's cruel
To sailormen like we,
Mariners are her chosen gruel
Down beneath the sea,
Down beneath the sea;
She's got the blood o' them she's lured
An' the bones of many a wreck;
She's got barnacles a-growin' on her,
An' shark teeth round her neck,
An' shark teeth round her neck.

Now you know I've ne'er had no schoolin'
Nor read no books like you,
But it just ain't healthy to be foolin'
With that there gristly crew,
With that there gristly crew;
So you may be smart an' you thinks you're lairy,
But if you're to make old bones,
Steer clear, I says, o' Mother Carey,
An' that there Davy Jones,
An' that there Davy Jones!

Notes:

The tune is after traditional folk song "Johnnie o' Breadisley" as sung by Ewan MacColl on English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Child Ballads), Volume 1, Folkways FG 3509, 1961.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 11 - 10:32 AM

I've just added Andy Kenna's alternative setting to "A Pier-Head Chorus" to my initial post. Love the POWER to edit!

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jun 11 - 08:57 AM

Port of Many Ships
(John Masefield)

It's a sunny pleasant anchorage is Kingdom Come
Where the crew is always layin' aft with double-tots o' rum
And there's dancin' 'n' there's fiddlin' of ev'ry kind o' sort;
It's a fine place for sailormen is that there port.
'N' I wish --
I wish as I was there.

The winds is never nothin' more than jest light airs,
'N' no one gets belayin' pinned, 'n' no-one never swears;
Yer free to loaf an' laze around, yer pipe atween yer lips
Lollin' on the fo'c's'le, sonny, lookin' at the ships.
'N' I wish --
I wish as I was there.

For ridin' in the anchorage the ships of all the world
Have got one anchor down 'n' all sails furled;
All the sunken hookers 'n' the crews as took 'n' died,
They lays there merry, sonny, swingin' with the tide.
'N' I wish --
I wish as I was there.

Drowned old wooden hookers green wi' drippin' wrack
Ships as never fetched to port, as never came back;
Swingin' to the blushin' tide, dippin' to the swell,
'N' the crews all singin', sonny, beatin' on the bell.
'N' I wish --
I wish as I was there.


Notes:

First published in Speaker, August 1902 and then published in Masefield's Salt Water Ballads the same year. In 1919 it was first set to music by Frederick Keel (1871-1954).

This poem seems likely to have been the inspiration for "Port of Dreams" by Cicely Fox Smith, which mirrors many lines.

As sung by Andy Kenna (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

PORT OF MANY SHIPS-2
(John Masefield)

C--G-C-----------------------------G-C-----G---C
It's a sunny pleasant anchorage is King-dom Come
---------G--C------------------------------G----C---------------G
Where the crews is always laying up with double tots of rum
---------------F-------------------------------C-Dm-C
And there's fiddling, there's dancing of ev'-ry sort
----G-C--------------------------G-C---G----C
It's a fine place for sailormen is that there port --
-----G-C-----------G--------------F/C
And I wish (and I wish), I was there.

The winds is never nothin' more than jest light airs
And no one gets belayin' pinned, and no one never swears
Yer free to loaf to laze around, yer pipe atween yer lips
Lollin' on the fo'c'sle, sonny, lookin' at the ships --
And I wish (and I wish), I was there.

A-ridin' in the anchorage the ships of all the world
Have got one anchor down and now their sails furled
All the sunken hookers and the crews 'as took and died
They lays there merry, sonny, swingin' on the tide --
And I wish (and I wish), I was there.

Drowned old wooden hookers, green wi' drippin' wrack
Ships as never fetched to port, and never came back
Swingin' to the blushin' tide, dippin' to the swell,
And the crews all singin', sonny, beatin' on the bell --
And I wish (and I wish), I was there.
And I wish (and I wish), I was there.

Notes:

As sung by Andy Kenna of the liverpool shanty duo Forebitter as recorded on Salt Water Ballads, © 2002.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 06 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM

"The Emigrant" goes well to the tune of 'Sally Gardens':

The Emigrant

Going by Daly's shanty I heard the boys within
Dancing the Spanish hornpipe to Driscoll's violin,
I heard the sea-boots shaking the rough planks of the floor,
But I was going westward, I hadn't heart for more.

All down the windy village the noise rang in my ears,
Old sea boots stamping, shuffling, it brought the bitter tears.
The old tune piped and quavered, the lilts came clear and strong,
But I was going westward, I couldn't join the song.

There were the grey stone houses, the night wind blowing keen,
The hill-sides pale with moonlight, the young corn springing green,
The hearth nooks lit and kindly, with dear friends good to see.
But I was going westward, and the ship waited me.

Notes:

From The Poems & Plays of John Masefield, Vol. 1, by John Masefield, The MacMillan Co., London, UK, © 1918, p. 87.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jun 11 - 01:36 PM

Tug the Cox-

Have you led this one yourself or know anyone who has recorded it?

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Big Al Whittle (closed)
Date: 06 Jun 11 - 02:44 PM

Sounds good to me Tug, have you done it?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 07 Jun 11 - 08:52 AM

A friend of mine in Exmouth sings it, accompanying himself on the mandolin.Rosie, who was involved with hanging Johnny, sings it to another tune. Don't know of any recordings.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Jun 11 - 09:05 AM

Here's another poem that Stan Hugill used to preface his book titled Sailortown, E. P. Dunton & Co., New York, © 1967:

Hell's Pavement
(John Masefield)

"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 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.

Notes:

From Salt-Water Poems & Ballads, © 1921, p. 25.

Here we have another take on the sailor's pledge never to go to sea once more, only to be shipped out "a week later with the clothes upon me back."

In adapting this one for singing, I used the melody to a British Music Hall song (not sure which one but it's in that style), did some rewording with advice from two friends and added a chorus (copy and past into word/times/12 to line up chords):

Arrangement and new words by Charles Ipcar, Norris Dale & Judy Barrows © 2004
Tune: Charles Ipcar, Music Hall style

HELL'S PAVEMENT
(John Masefield)

C-------------------F---C--------F-C-------------------------------G-C
"Now, when I'm dis-charged at Liverpool 'n' draws me bit o' pay,
----G7---------------------------C
I'll never, never, go to sea no more;
----------F-C---F-C----------------------------G---C
I'll court a pret-ty little lass 'n' have a wed-din' day,
----G7----------------------------------C
'N' settle down some quiet place a-shore;
----G7------------------------C---------G7---C
I'll never go to sea again a-temptin' Davy Jones,
D-------------------------------------G-------------------G7
Hearkening to them cruel sharks a-hungerin' for me bones;
----C--F-C----F—C---------------------------G---C
I'll run a blush-in' dairy-farm or go a-crack-in' stones,
---G----------------G7----------C
Or buy 'n' keep a little liquor-store."

Chorus:

C-------G------------G7-----------C--------G7-----C
Oh, I'll never go to sea again to plow the ocean deep,
----D---------------------------------------G---------------G7
No more I'll hear "All hands aloft" to rob me of me sleep;
----C------------F—C--------------------------------G----C
I'll settle ninety miles from shore, no more the pier head leap,
----F--------------G7-----------C
I'll never, never, go to sea no more!


Then, they towed her in to Liverpool, we made the hooker fast,
And the copper-bound official paid the crew (paid the crew),
So I drew me money, but me money didn't last,
For I went and painted Lime Street blue (so blue), –
It was rum for Poll, and rum for Nan, and gin for Jolly Jack;
I shipped a week later in the clothes upon me back;
And I had to pinch a little straw, I had to beg a sack,
To sleep on, when me watch was through.

But, I'll never go to sea again to plow the ocean deep,
No more I'll hear "All hands aloft" to rob me of my sleep
I'll settle ninety miles from shore, no more the pier head leap,
I'll never, never, go to sea no more!


Here's a link to a MP3 sample as recorded on Uncommon Sailor Songs, © 2004: click here for lyrics and MP3 Sample!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 08:30 AM

Off to the Mystic Sea Music Festival until Monday.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 27 April 9:06 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Cafι Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.