Notes

Original poem by
Burt Franklin Jenness

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MP3 Sample

Mid-Watches

Poem by Burt Franklin Jenness
from OCEAN HAUNTS, edited by Burt Franklin Jenness,
Empire Publishing Co., New York, US, 1934, P. 73.

Adapted and musically arranged by Charlie Ipcar 4/6/07

Tune: inspired by "Song for Gale" by Larry Kaplan and
"Night Rider's Lament" by Michael Burton

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Chorus:
And you climbed the old bridge, looked into the night,
And the wind and the spray stung your face;
While the stars overhead were all dancing and bright
And the ship plunged a-way into space.

Will you ever forget the mid-watches at sea?
How you tumbled out sleepy and dazed,
And though you maneuvered as still as could be
Remember the ruckus you raised
As you bumped into hammocks, or stepped on a mate
Who was dozing away on the deck?
Then you hustled up forward for fear you'd be late
Your pea-coat pulled snug 'round your neck.

(Chorus)

Will you ever forget the long tricks at the wheel;
All your thoughts and your plans and your fears?
The things you'd imagine the dangers you'd feel
With the creak and the groan of the gears;
How you'd wake with a snap from some dream of the shore,
As a comber loomed ahead ghostly pale,
Or you'd start at the crash and the thundering roar
As a beam-sea swept over the rail?

(Chorus)

(Same as the chorus)
And didn't those hours seem lonelier, too,
When the moon and the stars went to bed,
And it seemed, sometimes, there was no one but you
Sailing into that black hole ahead?

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Mid-Watches

Poem by Burt Franklin Jenness
From OCEAN HAUNTS, edited by Burt Franklin Jenness,
Empire Publishing Co., New York, US, 1934, P. 73.

Will you ever forget the mid-watches at sea?
How you tumbled out sleepy and dazed,
And though you maneuvered as still as could be,
Remember the chorus you raised
As you bumped into hammocks, or stepped on a mate
Who was caulking it off on the deck?
Then you hustled up forward for fear you'd be late,
Your pea-coat pulled snug 'round your neck,
And you climbed the old bridge and looked into the night,
And the wind and the spray stung your face;
While the stars overhead were all dancing and bright,
And the ship plunged away into space;
Can you ever forget the long tricks at the wheel;
All your thoughts and your plans and your fears?
The things you'd imagine the dangers you'd feel,
As the creaks and the groans of the gears
Would make you snap out of some dream of the shore?
Or a comber would loom like a ship
Dead ahead, or you'd start at the crash and the roar,
As a beam-sea would hit her on a clip?
And didn't those hours seem lonelier, too,
When the moon and stars went to bed,
And it seemed like sometimes there was no one but you
Sailing into that black hole ahead?

Notes:

"Caulking it off" is old sailor slang for sleeping on deck. For inspections sailors would traditionally line up parallel to the caulked deck boards, and evidently when they were napping on deck they would do the same.

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