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Penguin: The Ship In Distress


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Sailboat song (7)
Lyr Req: Little Boy Billee / Little Billee (14)
Lyr Req: Il Était un Petit Navire (12)

In Mudcat MIDIs:
A Nau Catarineta (Brazilian set from Folk Songs of the Americas, edited by A.L. Lloyd and Isabel Aretz de Ramón y Rivera (Novello, 1965), originally published in Música Popular Brasileña (O. Alvarenga; Mexico City, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1947). )
Ship In Distress (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)

Alan of Australia 02 Jul 00 - 03:44 AM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Aug 00 - 04:05 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Aug 00 - 04:06 PM
Alan of Australia 12 Oct 00 - 02:26 AM
Sorcha 12 Oct 00 - 03:10 AM
Anglo 12 Oct 00 - 10:27 AM
MartinRyan 12 Oct 00 - 10:46 AM
radriano 12 Oct 00 - 11:45 AM
MartinRyan 12 Oct 00 - 11:54 AM
radriano 12 Oct 00 - 12:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Oct 00 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 12 Oct 00 - 04:51 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Jan 01 - 10:09 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 May 01 - 12:14 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 10 Nov 09 - 06:24 AM
Artful Codger 10 Nov 09 - 06:32 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 10 Nov 09 - 09:21 AM
Little Robyn 10 Nov 09 - 01:51 PM
Artful Codger 11 Nov 09 - 04:45 PM
Little Robyn 12 Nov 09 - 02:07 AM
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Subject: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 02 Jul 00 - 03:44 AM

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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Subject: Lyr Add: LITTLE BILLEE (William M Thackeray)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Aug 00 - 04:05 PM

From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):

"The Portugese Ballad  A Nau Caterineta  and the French ballad  La Courte Paille  tell much the same story.  The ship has been long at sea, and food has given out.  Lots are drawn to see who shall be eaten, and the captain is left with the shortest straw.  The cabin boy offers to be sacrificed in his stead, but begs first to be allowed to keep lookout till the next day.  In the nick of time he sees land ("Je vois la tour de Babylone, Barbarie de l'autre côté") and the men are saved.  Thackeray burlesqued this song in his  Little Billee.  It is likely that the French ballad gave rise to The Ship in Distress, which appeared on 19th. century broadsides.  George Butterworth obtained four versions in Sussex (FSJ vol.IV [issue 17] pp.320-2) and Sharp printed one from James Bishop of Priddy, Somerset (Folk Songs from Somerset, vol.III, p.64) with "in many respects the grandest air" which he had found in that county.  The text comes partly from Mr. Bishop's version, and partly from a broadside."  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

This version was collected by George Butterworth from Mr. Harwood of Watersfield, Sussex, in 1907, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.IV, [issue 17], p.321.

On the DT:

The Ship in Distress     From the Oxford Book of Sea Songs, with tune.
Sept Ans sur Mer         Canadian version of La Courte Paille, with tune.
Il était un Petit Navire  Canadian version of La Courte Paille, with tune.

Le Petit Navire is a later development of the song, dated by Henri Davenson (Le Livre des Chansons, 1955) to the mid-19th. century.   It was re-made in the music-halls, becoming a comic song in which the cabin-boy is actually eaten, in a variety of interesting sauces.  In this form it re-entered tradition -largely as a chidren's song- and continued alongside its more serious-minded ancestor.

See also:

The Banks of Newfoundland  (no tune).
The Silk Merchant's Daughter   From the Oxford Book of Sea Songs, with tune.

These two songs share the central motif, though the surrounding stories are different.

In the Forum:

The Silk Merchant's Daughter  Discussion of variants and broadside sources.
Il était un petit navire  Discussion of variants

@sailor @cannibal

There are entries at  The Traditional Ballad Index:

The Ship in Distress

La Courte Paille

See Also:

The Banks of Newfoundland (II)

The Silk Merchant's Daughter  Laws N10

There is a version of A Nau Catarineta, and links to others, at:   Barcarolas e Marinhas   I am not in a position to provide an adequate translation from the Portugese, so have not included a text at this time.  If there's anybody out there who could do one, that would be great.


(William Makepeace Thackeray)

There were three sailors in Bristol City,
Who took a boat and went to sea.
But first with beef and captain's biscuit,
And pickled pork they loaded she.

There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
And the youngest he was little Billee.
Now when they'd got as far as the Equator
They'd nothing left but one split pea.

Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
"I am extremely hungaree."
To gorging Jack says guzzling Jimmy,
"We've nothing left, us must eat we."

Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
With one another we shouldn't agree!
There's little Bill, he's young and tender,
We're old and tough, so let's eat he."

"O Billy! we're going to kill and eat you,
So undo the button of your chemie."
When Bill he heard this information,
He used his pocket-handkerchie.

"First let me say my catechism
Which my poor mother taught to me."
"Make haste! make haste!" says guzzling Jimmy,
While Jack pulled out his snickersnee.

Billy went up to the main top-gallant mast,
And down he fell on his bended knee,
He scarce had come to the Twelfth Commandment
When up he jumps - "There's land I see!"

"Jerusalem and Madagascar
And North and South Amerikee,
There's the British flag a-riding at anchor,
With Admiral Napier, K.C.B"

So when they got aboard of the Admiral's,
He hanged fat Jack and flogged Jimmee,
But as for little Bill, he made him
The Captain of a Seventy-three.

There are apparantly no broadside texts at  
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads,  but there are variants of the Silk Merchant's Daughter.  These are the most legible:

New York Streets  Printed between 1828 and 1842 by Batchelar, 14, Hackney Road Crescent, London.

The Silk Merchant's Daughter  Printer & Date unknown

There is also a sheet of two broadsides relating to an incident of cannibalism at sea:

The Loss of the Francis Spaight/ Loss of the Ship Francis Spede J. Scott, Pittenweem; Sold at 49 N. Richmond St., and 6 High Riggs, Edinburgh.

The Francis Spaight, (I presume the one wrecked in 1846), was also the subject of a 1908 short story by Jack London, which may be found here: The Francis Spaight: A True Tale Retold.

These kinds of incident, though not common, were generally accepted as legitimate in extreme circumstances.  There is an article about the 1821 incident involving the Nantucket whaleship, the "Essex", here;  The Terrible Truth behind the Legend of Moby Dick.  The "Mignonette" incident of 1884, however, in which ailing cabin boy Richard Parker was consumed by his shipmates, resulted in the trial of Captain Dudley and the other two survivors.  Though the public was shocked, it was generally sympathetic to the accused; they were found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death with a recommendation to clemency.  There was an immediate appeal and a re-trial,"using a classic defence which is still quoted in courts today". The seamen were found guilty of manslaughter, and served six months hard labour.


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From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Aug 00 - 04:06 PM

Here is a version from France:


(The Short Straw)

Il était un petit navire
Il était un petit navire
Dessus la mer s'en est allé
Dessus la mer s'en est allé.

 There was a little ship
 There was a little ship
 Went out upon the sea
 Went out upon the sea.

A bien été sept ans sur mer, sans jamais la terre aborder.

 It was at sea for seven long years, and never came to land.

Au bout de la septième année, les vivres vinrent à manquer.

 When seven years were past, provisions were almost gone.

Faut tirer à la courte paille, poir savoir qui sera mangé.

 They must draw for the short straw, to see who shall be eaten.

Le maître qu'a parti les pailles, la plus courte lui a resté.

 The captain who dealt out the straws was left with the short one.

S'est ecrié: "O Vierge mère, c'est donc moi qui sera mangé!

 He cried: "O mother Virgin, so it's I who shall be eaten!"

Le mousse lui a dit: "Mon maître, pour vous le sort je subirai,

 The cabinboy said to him: "My captain, for you I will undergo this fate,

Mais auparavant que je meure, au haut du mât je veux monter.

 But before I die, I want to climb to the top of the mast.

Le mousse monte dans la hune, a regardé tous côtés.

 The cabinboy climbed to the crow's nest, and looked all around.

Quand il fut monté sur la pomme, le mousse s'est mis à chanter:

 When he reached the masthead, the cabinboy began to sing:

"Je vois la tour de Babylone, Barbarie de l'autre côté;

 "I see the Tower of Babylon, Barbary on the other side;

Je vois les moutons dans la plaine, et la bergère à les garder;

 I see the sheep on the plain, and the shepherdess watching over them;

Je vois la fille à notre maître, à trois pigeons donne a manger."

 I see our captain's daughter; she is feeding three pigeons."

"Ah! chante, chante, vaillant mousse, chante, t'as bien de quoi chanter:

 "Ah! sing, sing, valiant cabinboy, you have plenty to sing about:

T'as gagné la fille à ton maître, le navire qu'est sous tes pieds."  You have won your captain's daughter, and the ship beneath your feet."

This version was printed in Le Livre des Chansons (Henri Davenson, 1955); he gives a text collated by Doncieux (Le Romancero populaire de la France,1904) but gives no provenance for the tune, a midi of which goes to Alan's Mudcat Midi site.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 02:26 AM

(At last) Thanks to Malcolm the tune for "La Courte Paille" with embedded lyrics can be found here at the Mudcat MIDI site.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 03:10 AM

Malcolm, you are absolutely amazing. WOW. What a provenance for a song. You deserve at least a small SNOG for your scholarship and research. Soooooo, SNOGS to you, Malcolm Douglas!!!!!!

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Anglo
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 10:27 AM

Bob Copper also sings a version of the "Ship in Distress," which is printed in the Copper Family Songbook under the title "Seamen Bold."

The Cecil Sharp version is published with a piano arrangement in his "One Hundred English Folk Songs." (Still in print from Dover, I believe). This version seems to be the only one in 6/4 time rather than the more common 5/4.

Terrific job, Malcolm!

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: MartinRyan
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 10:46 AM

Franklin, in his own account of his early explorations in North East Canada, has an account of cannibalism among his French-Canadian voyageurs. I think there was also a suggestion in respect of some of those lost in his later disaster.


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From: radriano
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 11:45 AM

There's an interesting version of Lord Franklin in the Bodleian library that goes into the account of cannabalism on the voyage.

Sir J. Franklin and His Crews
Bodleian Library Broadsheets

You tender Christians I pray attend
To these few lines I have now penned
Of Sir John Franklin and his brave band
Who've perished far from their native land

So listen now while I tell to you
The fate of Franklin and his brave crew

It's now nine years since they first set sail
With joyous hearts and a pleasant gale
In frozen regions to cruise about
The Northwest passage to find out

There was many a sad and an aching heart
As from their friends these brave men did part
To plough their way o'er the raging main
For fear they should ne'er return again

When six dreary years they had been away
Some other vessels without delay
Were sent to search for the missing crews
But alas of them they could hear no news

A gloomy mystery for nine long years
Their wives and children has kept in tears
In deepest anguish they did await
The ships sent out to learn their fate

Poor Lady Franklin in great despair
In anguish wild she tore her hair
Saying ten thousand pounds I'd give for news
Of my loving Franklin and his brave crews

The government in this present year
Did pensions give to their families dear
But Lady Franklin refused the grant
Crying give me my husband I no money want

At length sad tidings of this brave band
Has reached the shores of their native land
By which we hear that they are all dead
Though suffering much ere their souls had fled

As through the frozen seas they pushed
Their ships by blocks of ice were crushed
And offering prayers for their babes and wives
Many brave souls did lose their lives
Forty poor creatures from a watery grave
With one of the boats their lives did save
And over the ice they now took their way
To reach in safety the Hudson's Bay

What horrid sufferings of pain and want
These frozen regions no food did grant
At length, oh horrid, for want of meat
Their dying comrades they had to eat

How horrid was the sight when found
Their limbs and bodies lay scattered round
The flesh gnawed off from every bone
Oh, may their souls to heaven have gone

Now for to finish and make an end
May God their families from want defend
And while their loss we sadly deplore
We hope such horrors to hear no more

The version of "The Ship in Distress" in the Oxford Book of Sea Songs is a wonderful version (with a lovely melody) of the well known sea song, "The Mermaid."


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: MartinRyan
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 11:54 AM


Interesting one alright. John Moulden had sent me a copy of one of those versions - I didn't realise it was in the Bodleian. I find their search system a bit dodgy!

Haven't tried to sing that set to the usual air. Ever heard it done?


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From: radriano
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 12:25 PM


I've had trouble with the Bodleian search system as well. I tend to browse the collections when I have the time to do it.

I believe that the version I just posted would fit well with the usual air. Lately I've been singing a version of the song given in "The Oxford Book of Sea Song" which has a slightly different melody that I like a lot. In case you don't have access to the Oxford book here's the ABC notation for that melody along with the lyrics:

T:Lady Franklin's Lament for her Husband
S:Oxford Book of Sea Songs
(D>F)|A2A2 B2 A>F|(E>D) (E>F) D3"'"D|
E2 (E>F) (G>F) (G>A)|B2B2 A2"'" A>A| BBBB d2 c>B|
A2d2 F2"'" (F>E)|D2 AA (B>F) G>E|E2 D2 D2||

Lady Franklin's Lament for her Husband
The Oxford Book of Sea Songs, Roy Palmer, ed.

You seamen bold that have oft withstood
Wild storms of Neptune's briny flood
Attend to these few lines which I now relate
And put you in mind of a sailor's dream

As homeward bound one night on the deep
Slung in my hammock, I fell fast asleep
I dreamed a dream which I thought was true
Concerning Franklin and his brave crew

I thought as we neared to the Humber shore
I heard a female that did deplore
She wept aloud and seemed to say
Alas, my Franklin is long away

Her mind it seemed in sad distress
She cried aloud, - I can take no rest
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To say on earth that my husband lives

Long time it is since two ships of fame
Did bear my husband across the main
With a hundred seamen with courage stout
To find a north-western passage out

With a hundred seamen with hearts so bold
I fear have perished with frost and cold
Alas, she cried, all my life I'll mourn
Since Franklin seems never to return

For since that time seven years are past
And many a keen and bitter blast
Blows o'er the grave where the poor seamen fell
Whose dreadful sufferings no tongue can tell

To find a passage by the North Pole
Where tempests wave and wild thunders roll
Is more than mortal man can do
With hearts undaunted and courage true

There's Captain Austen of Scarborough town
Brave Granville and Penny of much renown
With Captain Ross and so many more
Have long been searching the Arctic shore

They sailed east and they sailed west
Round Greenland's coast they knew the best
In hardships drear they have vainly strove
On mountains of ice their ships were drove

At Baffin's Bay where the whalefish blows
The fate of Franklin nobody knows
Which causes many a wife and child to mourn
In grievous sorrow for their return

These sad forebodings they give me pain
For the long lost Franklin across the main
Likewise the fate of so many before
Who have left their homes to return no more

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 12:39 PM

Why, thankyou Sorcha!  All I'm really doing is cross-referencing resources available on the Web (and trying to leave out sites that look as if they may disappear without warning.)  Of course, like many others here, I've done a lot of reading and listening over the years, which helps when pulling information together.  The version Sharp found is mentioned in A.L. Lloyd's notes, above; Bob Copper's version is currently available (text only) at Gary Gillard's  Copper Family  site:  Seamen Bold.  The song persists in tradition in Sussex, and the late Gordon Hall also had a set of it.  There is an interview with Gordon at  Musical Traditions  here:  Gordon Hall

There was extensive discussion of Lord Franklin on a thread last year:  Franklin  where several versions were posted, including the full broadside text Radriano gives above.  I will refresh it and put in a link to this thread, though it doesn't have very much to do with The Ship in Distress!

For more on the Franklin expedition, see:

John Franklin's Story  (at  Lord Franklin Productions  )
John Franklin and the Opening of the North, 1845 - 1859

Of course, they were on land at the time and probably would have survived if they had adopted the Inuit diet as Ross had some years before in the same area.

I'm still hoping for a translator for A Nau Catarineta...


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 12 Oct 00 - 04:51 PM


That's alright - we'll take Franklin off elsewhere. Sort of a takeaway, I suppose.


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From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 10:09 AM

Here is another set of La Courte Paille, in answer to a request for the version recorded by a band called "Arcady".  Having never heard of them, I can't be sure that this is the right text, but it seems likely enough.  It appears on several websites, all apparantly deriving from the same, unnamed, source, and is described as Breton.  The narrative is a bit confused in comparison with the collated version I gave earlier in this thread.  Regrettably, none of the sites carrying the text give any indication as to what tune may belong to it.  I give the words as found, though in verse 1 I have substituted "dessus" for "de sur", which is probably either dialectal or the result of a mis-hearing.


Trois matelots du port de Brest
Dessus la mer, djemalon lonla lura,
Dessus la mer se sont embarqués.

Three sailors from the port of Brest
Upon the sea, djemalon lonla lura,
Embarked upon the sea.

Ont bien été trois mois sur mer
Sans jamais terre, djemalon lonla lura,
Sans jamais terre y aborder.

They were a good three months at sea
Without ever coming to land.

Au bout de cinq à six semaines
Le pain le vin, djemalon lonla lura,
Le pain le vin vint à manquer.

At the end of five to six weeks
Bread and wine began to run out.

Fallut tirer la courte paille
Pour savoir qui, djemalon lonla lura,
Pour savoir qui serait mangé.

They had to draw the short straw
To see who would be eaten.

La courte paille tomba sur le chef
Ce s'ra donc moi, djemalon lonla lura,
Ce s'ra donc moi qui s'rai mangé.

The short straw fell to the chief:
"So it is I who shall be eaten."

Oh non sinon, mon capitaine
La mort pour vous, djemalon lonla lura,
La mort pour vous j'endurerai.

"Oh no, my captain,
I shall endure death for you".

La mort pour moi si tu l'endures
Cent écus d'or, djemalon lonla lura,
Cent écus d'or je t'y donn'rai.

"If you endure death for me,
I shall give you a hundred gold crowns.

Ou bien ma fille en mariage
Ou c'beau bateau, djemalon lonla lura,
Ou c'beau bateau qui est sous nos pieds.

Or else my daughter in marriage,
Or this fine boat that is beneath our feet."

Il n'était pas à demi-hune
Se mit à rire, djemalon lonla lura,
Se mit à rire et à chanter.

He was scarcely halfway up the mast
When he began to laugh...
When he began to sing.

Courage mes enfants courage
Je vois la terre, djemalon lonla lura,
Je vois la terre de tous côtés.

"Courage, my children, courage;
I see land on every side.

Je vois les tours de Babylone
Trois charpentiers, djemalon lonla lura,
Trois charpentiers y travailler.

I see the towers of Babylon,
Three carpenters working there.

Je vois les moutons sur la lande
Trois belles bergères, djemalon lonla lura,
Trois belles bergères à les garder.

I see the sheep on the heath,
Three beautiful shepherdesses watching over them.

Je crois que j'en reconnais une
C'est ma maîtresse, djemalon lonla lura,
C'est ma maîtresse du temps passé.
I think that I recognise one of them;
It's my mistress from the old days."


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Subject: Lyr Add: A NAU CATARINETA
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 May 01 - 12:14 PM

A recent brief thread on Little Billee ( Three Sailors from Bristol City ) reminded me that we still had no example here of the Portugese set of the story.  Since I now have one with an English translation, here it is:


(Traditional; Brazilian version)

Faz vint' um anos e um dia
Que andamos n'ondas do mar,
Botando solas de môlho, O tolina,
Para de noite jantar.
Botando solas de môlho, O tolina,
Para de noite jantar.

A sola era tão dura
Que a não podemos tragar.
Foi-se vendo pela sorte, O tolina,
Quem se havia de matar.
Logo foi cair a sorte, O tolina,
No capitão general.

Sobe, sobe, meu gageiro,
Meu gageirinho real;
Vê se vês terras d'Espanha, O tolina,
Areias de Portugal

Não vejo terras d'Espanha,
Areias de Portugal.
Vejo sete espadas nuas, O tolina,
Tôdas ara te matar.

Sobe, sobe, meu gageiro,
Meu gageirinho real;
Olha prá estrêla do norte, O tolina,
Para poder nos guiar.

Alvistas, meu capitão!
Alvistas, meu general!
Avistei terras d'Espanha, O tolina,
Areias de Portugal!

Também avistei três moças
Sentadas num parreiral;
Duas cosendo setim, O tolina,
Outro calçando dedal.

Tôdas três são minhas filhas,
Ai, quem m'as dera abraçar!
A mas bonita de tôdas, O tolina,
Para contigo casar.

Eu não quero sua filha
Que lhe custou a criar.
Quero a nau Catarineta, O tolina,
Para nela navegar.

Tenho meu cavalo branco,
Como não há outro igual;
Dar-to-ei de presente, O tolina,
Para nêle passear.

Eu não quero su cavalo,
Que lhe custou a criar.
Quero a nau Catarineta, O tolina,
Para nela navegar.

Tenho meu palá cio nobre,
Como não há outro assim;
Com suas telhas de prata, O tolina,
Suas portas de marfim.

Eu não quero su palá cio,
Tão caro de edificar.
Quero a nau Catarineta, O tolina,
Para nela navegar.

A nau Catarineta, amigo,
É d'El-Rei de Portugal.
Ou eu não serei quem sou, O tolina,
Ou El-Rei te há de dar.

Desce, desce, meu gageiro,
Meu gageirinho real!
Já viste terras d'Espanha, O tolina,
Areias de Portugal!


(Translation by A.L. Lloyd)

It's twenty-one years and over
We sailed upon the salt sea,
Until we were boiling our boots, O tolina,
For we had nought else to eat.
Until we were boiling our boots, O tolina,
For we had nought else to eat.

The leather it was so hard, lads,
We couldn't eat it at all,
So we cast lots for to see, O tolina,
Which of the crew we should kill,
And on our captain so bold, O tolina,
The lot it happened to fall.

Oh, climb aloft then, my topman,
My little topman so royal!
Do you see the land of Spain, O tolina,
The sands of fair Portugal?

The land of Spain I don't see, sir,
Nor sands of fair Portugal,
But I see six naked swords, O tolina
And you're the one they would kill.

Aloft again, O my topman,
My little topman so bright!
The northern star will appear, O tolina,
And you may guide us aright.

Good news, good news, O my captain!
Good news, my shipmates and all!
I see the coastline of Spain, O tolina,
The sands of fair Portugal!

Likewise I see three young maidens
A-sitting under a vine.
One of them puts on her thimble, tolina,
Two sew their satin so fine.

The three girls, they are my daughters,
Three little stars of my life.
The prettiest of them all, O tolina,
Shall be your own wedded wife.

It's not your daughter I care for,
Who cost you so much to raise.
I want the Catarineta, tolina,
In her the world I would sail.

Oh, I have a snow-white stallion.
There's not another so fine;
To ride where'er you've a mind.
And you may have him for yours, O tolina.

It's not your stallion I care for,
That cost you so much to raise.
I want the Catarineta, tolina,
In her the world I would sail.

Oh, I have a noble palace,
It's like you'll never behold.
For it has portals of marble, tolina,
And roofs of silver and gold.

It's not your palace I care for,
That cost you so much to build.
I want the Catarineta, tolina,
To sail in around the world.

The good ship Catarineta,
She is the king's, as you know.
Either I'm not who I am, O tolina,
Or he will give her to you.

Come down, Oh come down, my topman,
My little topman so royal!
I see the bright land of Spain, O tolina,
The sands of fair Portugal!

Except in the second verse, the second two lines of each verse are repeated as a refrain.

This Brazilian version of the widespread Portugese song is taken from Folk Songs of the Americas, edited by A.L. Lloyd and Isabel Aretz de Ramón y Rivera (Novello, 1965), and was originally published in Música Popular Brasileña (O. Alvarenga; Mexico City, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1947).

A midi of the tune goes to the  Mudcat Midi Pages;  as a temporary measure, it may be heard via the  South Riding Folk Network  site:

A Nau Catarineta (midi).


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 06:24 AM

Obviously mistook the thread for The Courtship In Distress!


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Artful Codger
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 06:32 AM

That remark will be mighty puzzling when the spam post is removed. ;-}

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 09:21 AM

True enough AC - I'd thought the elf would be clever enough to remove my post too!


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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Little Robyn
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 01:51 PM

I thought, from the title of this thread, that it was about the sinking of the Penguin - a ferry that went between the north and south islands of New Zealand.
My grandfather, Dick Williams and his identical twin brother Jim were stewards on the Penguin and my late Father had several stories of their time on board. There was one time during a storm when Dick was moving a mattress from one room to a room on the deck below. He was standing at the top of the companionway with the mattress, the ship lurched and the next second he was on the deck below - just one little step away - the lower deck had risen to meet him. Lucky he had a mattress underneath!
But the boys were both hard drinkers and one time were both so drunk that they missed the boat - they were left behind in the South Island on that fateful day in February 1909 - and their boat sank on the Wellington coast with the loss of 75 out of 105 on board.
If they hadn't been drunk, if they hadn't missed the boat, the chances are they would have died that night, aged 20 years, and so they would never have married or had kids, and I would never have been born!!!
Quite a frightening thought really.
So I was hoping there might have been a song written about it????

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Artful Codger
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 04:45 PM

Did they seal, did they seal? If so, you could adapt "David Lowston" to the circumstances.

I can also envision a comic song about twin brothers getting into difficulties piloting a boat, muddling their duties because each couldn't tell himself from the other.

Post more details about the sinking of the ferry and we'll compose "The Penguin in Distress"! You know how folkies go wild for songs about nymphs, shepherds and ferries.

Codgerly yours...

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Subject: RE: Penguin: The Ship In Distress
From: Little Robyn
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 02:07 AM

Hi Codger,
I found these details from a site with NZ shipwrecks online. I wonder if the discrepency re numbers on board and numbers lost had anything to do with Dick and Jim being AWOL that night?
No seals around, unless there were some swimming around Cape Terawhiti that night.

1909 SS Penguin wrecked in Cook Strait

The voyage began promisingly. On the evening of 12 February 1909 the Union Company's passenger steamer Penguin left Picton for Wellington in fine weather. The ship was small (749 tons) and old (launched in 1864), but had been rebuilt, and Captain Francis Naylor knew the route thoroughly.

By the time the Penguin entered the open waters of Cook Strait, however, it was dark and the weather had closed in, blacking out every landmark. Unable to see the Pencarrow light, Captain Naylor set a course to take him clear of danger. He later made another course change, intending to ride out the storm until daylight, but then the ship struck heavily - with a noise like 'the rending of a gigantic piece of calico', a seaman recalled. The Penguin began sinking in heavy seas off a rugged, isolated stretch of coast.

The practice of 'women and children first' prevailed but this proved disastrous as the lifeboats they were placed in quickly capsized in the rough seas. None of the children and only one of the women, Ada Hannam, survived. Hannam was declared a heroine in the days that followed, particularly for her efforts assisting in the rescue of the youngest survivor, teenager Ellis Matthews. But this would have been of small consolation to the then pregnant Hannam; she had lost her husband and four children in the wreck. Only 30 of the 102 people who had set out from Picton that summer evening lived to tell the tale, 72 perished, making it New Zealand's worst 20th century maritime disaster (some contemporary accounts put the number of people on board at 105, with 75 deceased).

All but 13 of the bodies were eventually recovered. Most were transported via the salvage tug Terawhiti to Miramar wharf and then to the drill hall in Buckle Street for identification. A public funeral was then held in Wellington on 16 February. The half-day holiday declared for the event saw thousands line the street as 'a cortège of cabs and lorries' left the drill hall, thousands more met the cortège at Karori Cemetery. The deaths of the four McGuire children were among those that 'touched the people of Wellington'. They had been placed in St Andrews Presbyterian Orphanage, Nelson after their mother's death in 1906 but were on their way to be reunited with their father, who had recently remarried.

Although some said the Penguin had struck a drifting wreck, it is widely believed that it struck Thoms Rock off Cape Terawhiti, after being carried off course by an exceptionally strong flood tide. The inquiry blamed Captain Naylor and suspended his certificate for 12 months. But it was also unanimous that once disaster struck Naylor 'did everything in his power to prevent loss of life'.


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