A BALLAD OF JOHN SILVER

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger, flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Waters in those happy days of yore.

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which weighs against us, and a fact to be deplored
That we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid ourselves aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,

And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank!

Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a lively hornpipe, as the old salts taught us to;
Oh the whistlin' on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping barefoot soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!"

Ah! the pig-tailed, feisty pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop-to by that naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and their merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the Islands of the Blest.
A little south the sunset in the Islands of the Blest.

(Based on a poem by John Masefield from Salt-Water Poems And Ballads,
edited by John Masefield, published by The Macmillan Company, N
ew York, US, 1921, pp. 64-65.
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar, 2007.
Tune after traditional On the Range of the Buffalo.)

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Jeff Logan
Portland, Maine