Notes

Original poem
by John Masefield

Printable version

MP3 Sample

A Pier-Head Chorus

Original poem by John Masefield, 1912
from SALT WATER POEMS AND BALLADS
published by The Macmillan Co., NY, 1912, p. 51.

Adapted and musically arranged by Charles Ipcar 7/30/07
Tune after Little Black Train

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Now I'll be chewing salt horse and biting flinty bread,
Dancing with the stars upon the fo'c's'le head;
Harkening to the bow-wash and the welter of the tread
Of a thousand tons of clipper running free.

Chorus:
For the tug has got the tow-rope, she'll lead us to the Downs,
Her paddles churn the river-wrack to muddy greens and browns;
But I have swapped the river-wrack and all the filth of towns
For the rolling, surging, combers of the sea.
For the rolling, surging, combers of the sea.

For we'll sheet her tops'ls home, glide on down the Bay,
The sea-line blue with billows, the land-line blurred and grey;
The bow-wash will be piling high and thrashing into spray,
As the clipper's fore-foot tramples down the swell.

Chorus

She'll log a giddy seventeen and rattle out the reel,
The weight of all that run-out line will be a thing to feel,
As the bacca-chewing shellback shambles aft to take the wheel,
And the sea-sick little middy strikes the bell.

Chorus

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A Pier-Head Chorus

Original poem by John Masefield, 1912
from SALT WATER POEMS AND BALLADS
published by The Macmillan Co., NY, 1912, p. 51.

Oh I'll be chewing salted horse and biting flinty bread,
And dancing with the stars to watch, upon the fo'c's'le head,
Hearkening to the bow-wash and the welter of the tread
Of a thousand tons of clipper running free.

For the tug has got the tow-rope and will take us to the Downs,
Her paddles churn the river-wrack to muddy greens and browns,
And I have given river-wrack and all the filth of towns
For the rolling, combing cresters of the sea.

We'll sheet the mizzen-royals home and shimmer down the Bay,
The sea-line blue with billows, the land-line blurred and grey;
The bow-wash will be piling high and thrashing into spray,
As the hooker's fore-foot tramples down the swell.

She'll log a giddy seventeen and rattle out the reel,
The weight of all the run-out line will be a thing to feel,
As the bacca-quidding shell-back shambles aft to take the wheel,
And the sea-sick little middy strikes the bell.

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Notes:

A classic "outward bound" poem!

"Salted horse" is how the sailors often refered to the preserved meat they were served.

"Rattle out the reel" is a reference to how the speed of a sailing ship used to be determined with the log-line.

- Charley Noble

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