"Well there's many ports," said Murphy, "and I guess I've sampled most,
Round a-bout the Gulf of Guinea, up and down the Chili coast,
The Black Sea and the Baltic, and the China seas I've seen,
The North Sea and the South Sea, and the places in between.
But the ports as look the finest turn out somehow worst of all,
For I lost my chum in Rio, in a Dago dancin' hall,
And I lost my bloomin' heart once, to a wench in Cal-la-o,
And I lost my youth in Frisco, so many years ago.
But there's one I've never sighted, out of all the ports there be;
It's a place a feller talked of as was shipmates once with me,
On the hooker Maid of Athens, she was one of Dunc Macneill's,
She's gone missin' many a year now, bound from Steveston home with deals;
And this feller said the drinks there are the best a man could find,
And a sailor's always welcome, and the girls are always kind;
Well, there's dancin' and there's singin' and there's every sort of fun,
On the plaza in the evening when the lazy sun is done.
And the blessed old Pacific, keeps singin' like a psalm,
To the ships out in the roadstead, the firefly in the palm,
And the days are never scorchin', and the nights are never hot,
In that port he used to yarn of, with the name I've clean forgot;
So I'll never fetch that harbour, but it's maybe for the best,
For I daresay if I found it, it'd be like all the rest;
Still I'd like to think it's waitin', waitin' just for me,
With the red wine and the white wine, the dancin' and the spree.
Oh I'd like to think it's waitin', waitin' just for me,
With the red wine and the white wine, the dancin' and the spree;
And a table by the quayside, a good gal for my knee,
With the firefly gleamin' golden, in the palms I'll never see!"
(Poem by C. Fox Smith,
SEA SONGS & BALLADS 1917-22, pp. 32-33, © 1924
Adapted for music by Charles Ipcar, 9/15/04
Tune: after Jon Campbell "The Mary" ©1992)