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Alan of Australia Penguin: The Ship In Distress (20) Penguin: The Ship In Distress 02 Jul 00

From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's rendition of the tune of The Ship In Distress can be found here.


You seamen bold who plough the ocean
See dangers landsmen never know.
It's not for honour and promotion;
No tongue can tell what they undergo.
In the blusterous wind and the great dark water
Our ship went drifting on the sea,
Her headgear gone, and her rudder broken,
Which brought us to extremity.

For fourteen days, heartsore and hungry,
Seeing but wild water and bitter sky,
Poor fellows, they stood in a totter,
A-casting lots as to which should die.
The lot it fell on Robert Jackson,
Whose family was so very great.
'I'm free to die, but oh, my comrades,
Let me keep look-out till the break of day.'

A full-dressed ship like the sun a-glittering
Came bearing down to their relief.
As soon as this glad news was shouted,
It banished all their care and grief.
The ship brought to, no longer drifting,
Safe in Saint Vincent, Cape Verde, she gained.
You seamen all, who hear my story,
Pray you'll never suffer the like again.

Sung by Mr Harwood, Watersfield, Sussex (G.B. 1907)

Click here for a much longer version.

Previous song: Salisbury Plain.
Next song: Six Dukes Went A-Fishing.


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