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Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?

GUEST,proxy04@mikanet.com 02 Apr 05 - 02:53 AM
Charley Noble 02 Apr 05 - 11:27 AM
GUEST 02 Apr 05 - 11:28 AM
MartinRyan 02 Apr 05 - 04:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Apr 05 - 07:11 PM
Charley Noble 02 Apr 05 - 08:34 PM
Lady Hillary 02 Apr 05 - 08:39 PM
Amos 02 Apr 05 - 09:26 PM
rich-joy 02 Apr 05 - 09:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Apr 05 - 12:53 AM
Uncle_DaveO 03 Apr 05 - 11:15 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Apr 05 - 02:14 PM
Megan L 03 Apr 05 - 03:05 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 03 Apr 05 - 04:56 PM
Charley Noble 04 Apr 05 - 02:09 PM
Mr Happy 04 Apr 05 - 02:47 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 05 - 08:37 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 04 Apr 05 - 08:46 PM
dkurland 19 Apr 05 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,asdf_guy 06 Nov 11 - 07:52 PM
JohnInKansas 07 Nov 11 - 01:14 AM
Paul Burke 07 Nov 11 - 04:44 AM
Lighter 07 Nov 11 - 07:40 AM
GUEST 07 Nov 11 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Malcolm Bauer 30 Jul 16 - 01:49 PM
keberoxu 30 Jul 16 - 05:12 PM
keberoxu 30 Jul 16 - 05:30 PM
keberoxu 01 Aug 16 - 05:51 PM
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Subject: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: GUEST,proxy04@mikanet.com
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 02:53 AM

Hi, all. My mom used to sing me to sleep with a pun-infested lullaby titled "Do Ships Have Eyes?", and I've been trying to find the origins of the tune and lyrics. So far, I haven't found anyone else who knows this one, although the public library in Herkimer, NY apparently has a book which lists the song title and suggests the tune from "The Wearing of the Green." The lyrics are:


Do ships have eyes when they go to sea?
Are there springs in the ocean's bed?
Does the Jolly Tar* flow from a tree?
Can a river lose its head?

Could you bring relief to a window pane?
Or mend the break of day?
Would you paint a rabbit on a bald man's head,
Just to give him a bit of hare?

If you ate a square meal would the corners hurt?
Can you dig with the Ace of spades?
Would you throw a rope to a drowning lemon,
Just to give a lemon aid?

* a sailor (we had to look that up)


For the tune as I know it, follow the link for an MP3 of my mom singing it to my daughter when she was 3.

http://www.mikanet.com/public/9804eyes.mp3

Ring a bell, anyone?

- Duff


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 11:27 AM

Nice, but no clue where it came from.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 11:28 AM

yes, one red one, one green one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 04:42 PM

Aye, aye!

regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 07:11 PM

In some places boats normally have eyes, so they can see whewre they are going. Here is one such boat, in Malta.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 08:34 PM

McGrath-

Really not the poster's question but an interesting aside.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Lady Hillary
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 08:39 PM

Clearly, the eyes can be found in the head.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 09:26 PM

The running lights are not the ship's eyes; they are typically amidships.

A ship does have an area called the eyes of the ship up forward near the pointy end, but the expression is not much used.

Ancient vessels and some modern fishing boats often had eyes painted on either side of the prow as a guarantee against getting lost or running into something.

A


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: rich-joy
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 09:55 PM

This is an intriguing little song and I hope some 'Catter can shed some light ...

As regards the first line :
The sacred Egyptian symbol, The Eye of Maat (later called the Eye of Horus) and known as the UTCHAT, was painted on both boats and funerary equipment, as a prophylactic against all manner of evils - and many Mediterranean boats still have these eyes painted on, to guard against losing their way.


Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 12:53 AM

Proxy04, thanks for the lyrics and the tune. I hope the author can be named.
There are many ballads about the 'jolly tar'; I like the image raised in this song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 11:15 AM

This is not your song, but it's to The Wearin' of the Green" and is "infested with puns", to use your expression:

BORN IN CINCINNATI

(To the tune of The Wearin' o' The Green)

I was born in Cincinnati
Up in Iceland, in the South
And that's the very reason why
My voice is in my mouth.

'Twas a hot and frosty morning,
Yes, quite windy, I believe,
And the great big trees were making boughs
For they were going to leave.

And I went to sleep in a river
Just because it had a bed
And I took a sheet of water
Just to cover up my head.

If a rooster could but carry a hod,
A hen would lay a brick.
There are cripples dying nowadays
Because they cannot kick.

And the veg'tables were racing
To win the Butter Cup,
And the cabbage got so far a-head
The tomatoes couldn't ketchup.

And the pigs was making pigsties
And the grass was making hay,
And the bumblebees was making bum . . . .
For Ta-ra-bum-de-ay!

Collected in Minnesota in the late 40s, from an old (then about 70) Irishman named Frank McGovern (my stepfather)

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 02:14 PM

It might not have been the question asked by the poster, but it's the question asked by the song!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Megan L
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 03:05 PM

another brief deviation from the original question. duff said they had to look up Jolly Tar to find out it meant a sailor, this name came about as a result of the pigtail worn by sailors in the 18th century.

The older habit of sailors wearing a pigtail [rather than a queue] was a protection against a cut to the back of the neck -- from sword or dirk -- during close fighting, as would be encountered in boarding an enemy vessel or in repelling boarders. Often, sailors would stiffen their pigtails with tar before such combat, in order to provide added protection. Such a dressing for the neck was a regular feature of the preparations for battle by the Royal Marines and soon became a standard of their habit regardless of whether or not battle was expected.


They also have their hair in a queue, a practice which was abolished in 1808.

Ok i ken maist o ye knew that but an auld lass has tae get a word in some weys :)

Meg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM

Couple thousand years ago, Greek and Roman battleships (triremes) had eyes painted on the prow.

Modern reproduction. Another. Details.

Before cannon, sea battles involved trying to a) board the enemy ship and do battle hand to hand; b) set the enemy ship on fire; or c) ram it an sink it. Triremes generally had one or two square-rigged sails, but for battle, the main form of propulsion consisted of three banks of oars ("tri-" as opposed to "bireme," two banks of oars.). The prow of the trireme was a metal-clad ram at, or under, the waterline that extended several yards in front of the bow of the ship. When a trireme bore down on you swiftly, intending to ram you amidships, prominent in your view would be a pair of fearsome looking eyes.

"Here's looking at you, kid!"

Pretty fair reprsentation of triremes in action in the Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton epic Cleopatra.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 04:56 PM

There can easily be confusion about the "-reme" description of the ancient shipping.

While bireme and trireme ships had two and three banks of oars, surprisingly enough quadriremes and quinquiremes did not have four and five banks of oars.

The usage was confused, but what seems to be the case is that the "tri-" in some cases, and the "quadri-" and "quinqui-" roots refer not to the number of banks of oars but to the number of rowers per oar. A greater number of oar-banks than three is mechanically impracticable. The angle of the fourth and fifth banks, if there were such, would mean that those oars would have to be way too long to be effective, and there would be real problems keeping the sets of oars from interfering with each other.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 02:09 PM

Well, even our old skiff had a wicked set of "eyes" as well as "teeth" painted on the bow so as to freighten the yachting crowd down at the marina. My brother and I modeled it after some WW-II PT boats we'd seen pictures of.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 02:47 PM

i's?

of coarse!

ess,aitch, 'eye'[eye, skipper!], pee!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 08:37 PM

More on triremes. As ancient ship-building got more sophisticated, they tried all kinds of configurations. Given several centuries to work on it, they managed to iron out a lot of wrinkles, until at the Battle of Actium (depicted in Cleopatra), they were using quadriremes, quinqueremes, and even larger vessels.

Clicky. Interesting! Scroll down to "The Big Ones."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 08:46 PM

In the words of a Polynesian boat builder "no hab eyes how can see?"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: dkurland
Date: 19 Apr 05 - 04:56 PM

(Formerly proxy04... I've joined now.) Sorry to see no theories on the origin of the song yet, although the discussion of ships' eyes and running lights is illuminating :-) and I really enjoyed Uncle_DaveO's song. Still wondering...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: GUEST,asdf_guy
Date: 06 Nov 11 - 07:52 PM

it's a nice poem, but i don't know where it's from. sry. :P


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 01:14 AM

I don't recognize the poem, although there were a number of somewhat similar ones in circulation in times within memory. "Nonsense" poems, sometimes called "doggerels" appear to have been popular among teenagers of my mother's generation judging from her "autograph books." (early-mid 1920s?)

As to ships having eyes, among many sailors up to "almost modern" times, the eyes of the ships were said to be provided by the Figurehead, and I was taught (possibly incorrectly) that there were numerous "mystic beliefs" relating to the "doom of the vessel" if the figurehead was lost or damaged.

It appears that the three ships sailed by Columbus had no figureheads, which some might say explains why he didn't know where he was when he got to where he wasn't but thought he was.

(I always thought the "lions rampant" used as figureheads on some British (and Spanish?) ships were sort of a cop-out, since the FHs supposedly served the dual purpose of being a reminder of "back home," but maybe that's how the Brits thought of their "women left behind" (?). Folklore has lots of songs about what the women thought of sailors, but ...)

John


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 04:44 AM

I'm sorry if I missed someone pointing it out above, but the pun is much simpler than the traditional painted eyes on boats (also traditional on British canal boats), or anchor chain holes or whatever. It's just go to sea/ go to see.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 07:40 AM

The real question is whether pitchers have ears. Or am I thinking of walls?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 08:45 AM

With regard to "Jolly Tars" I was told recently that the sailors also used the tar in their queue as a handy supply of tar to give their hands a better grip on a line when they were hauling or when working aloft.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: GUEST,Malcolm Bauer
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 01:49 PM

My parents samg this song to me as a lullaby in the 1960s in New York city. Lyrics were the same except instead of the "bald man ... hare" they sang:
"Do you find your dairy man each morn and night
Selling milk from the milky way?"

Any progress on where it's from?

Thanks,
Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 05:12 PM

Books.google.com scared this up.

Do ships have eyes when they go to sea?
      Are there springs on the ocean bed?
Can a jolly tar spring from a tree?
      Can a river lose its head?

Are fishes crazy when found in seine?
      Can an old hen sing her lay?
Can you bring relief to a window pane?
      Can you mend the break of day?

Is a king all well when he's through his reign?
      Is a newspaper white when it is read?
Is a baker poor when he's kneading dough?
      Is an undertaker's business dead?

Is this the reason people don't move,
      Because they are so staid?
Would you throw a rope to a drowning lemon,
      Just to bring the lemon aid?

attributed to the magazine "Searchlight"

quoted in: Correct English and Current Literary Review, Volume V, no. 1
          © 1904 by editor, Josephine Turck Baker


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 05:30 PM

as well as:

What kind of food is a watchman's beat?
      Does the old hen sing her lay?
Did you ever see a poem trip with its feet?
      What kind of notes does the banker play?

Is Father Time a thief if he steals the hours away?
      Did you ever see a tinker mend the break of day?

Does a ship have eyes when it goes to sea?
      When does a river lose its head?
Does the "jolly tar" ooze from a tree?
      Are there any springs to the ocean's bed?

Will a blacksmith's vise make him lose his soul?
      Who can shingle a watershed?
To whom does the church bell pay its toll?
      Can a book be black and white and read?

Can a haul of fish for a fish ball be hired?
      Is a mountain climb like May?
Will a foreign clime make anyone tired?
      Can a donkey be fed on a brae?

attributed to "E. A. M."
quoted in the Pacific Rural Press and California Fruit Bulletin,
March 3, 1906, San Francisco, California   page 136


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Subject: RE: Origins: Do Ships Have Eyes?
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Aug 16 - 05:51 PM

Well, the following version says at the bottom: "FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE," which stopped me in my tracks...so I went looking in the Boston Globe Archives search engine...got absolutely noplace. So:

Here's the earliest version I could scare up.

QUESTIONS

Do ships have eyes when they go to sea?
    Are there springs in the ocean's bed?
Does a "jolly tar" ooze from a tree?
    Can a river lose its head?

What kind of food is a watchman's beat?
    Can an old loom sing its lay?
Can a poem trip without its feet?
    What notes does the gambler pay?

Will a blacksmith's vise condemn his soul?
    Can a book be white and read?
To whom does the church bell pay its toll?
    Who shingles a water shed?

If a minstrel boy can sing his lay,
    Can a ship sing her "lay-to"?
Do tigers ask for grace when they prey?
    Can a bugle note come due?

Is "Father Time" a noted thief
    For stealing the hours away?
Can you give a window-pane relief?
    Can you mend the break of day?

Will a foreign clime make anyone tired?
    Is a mountain climb like May?
Can a haul of fish for balls be hired?
    Can donkeys feed on a brae?

Is a purchase made when shoes are soled?
    Can an axe the rainbow hue?
If I keep on twisting the tale I've told,
    Pray what will your readers do?
                     -- Boston Globe.


found in: The Notre Dame Scholastic, Vol. 23, no. 35 : page 562
May 10, 1890.


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