Rogue’s Gallery: The Art of the Siren, #7
As we learn from Captain Ahab, the captain was the absolute authority on sea; as we learn from Captain Vere, a cruel captain could subject his crew to any tortures. This is a gallows confession and a warning.
A boy to me was bound apprentice
Because his parents they were poor.
So I took him from Saint James’ Workhouse
All for to sail on the Greenland shore.
One day this poor boy he did annoy me.
Nothing to him then did I say,
But I rushed him to my frozen yard-arm
And I kept him there till the very next day.
When his eyes and his teeth did hang before me,
With his hands and his feet down-bowed,
And with a bloody iron bar I killed him
Because I would not hear his cries any more.
Now all you sea captains that go out a-navyin’
Take a warning example by me
And don’t misuse your young apprentice boys
Or else it’s hanged you’ll surely be.
This 18th century folk song from East Anglia
came upon us as an
anonymously written broadside ballad.