The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151478   Message #3535577
Posted By: GUEST,blsmith
09-Jul-13 - 02:54 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: 'topsails all a quiver'
Subject: Folklore: 'topsails all a quiver'
Greetings Mudcatters:

There are at least two shanties that have lyrics that contain the phrase "topsails all a quiver". One is the WIld Goose (I spied a pretty fair maid with her topsails all a quiver); and the other is a verse from a version of Shenandoah (Missouri is a mighty river, when she rolls down her topsails quiver). There may be others.

In nautical terms, what does it mean when "topsails are a quiver"? Does it mean that the sails are well-set, trimmed? That the ship is sailing well, looking good, sailing smooth and fast, etc? When would topsails quiver? Is it a formal term or just a nice image to use in song lyrics?