Rogue’s Gallery: The Art of the Siren, #18
Song: Martin Carthy: The Mermaid (2:23 minutes)
from Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006.
Buy CD in Germany and elsewhere.
Image: Rudi Hurzlmeier: Mädchen am Meer (Girl at the Sea), Inkognito Satire-Karten, 2008.
As we lay musing on our bed,
So early morn at ease,
We thought upon those lodging beds
Poor sailors have at sea.
Though last Easter day in the morning fair,
We was not far from land,
We spied a mermaid sitting on a rock
With a comb and a glass in her hand, in her hand,
With a comb and a glass in her hand.
And first come the bosun of our ship
With courage, stout and bold:
“Stand fast, stand fast, brave lively lads,
Stand fast, brave hearts of gold.
For our gallant ship, she’s gone to wreck,
She was so lately trimmed,
The raging seas have sprung her good,
And the salt seas all run in, run in,
And the salt seas all run in.”
And up then spoke our cabin boy,
Oh, a well spoke boy was he:
“I’m sorry for my mother dear,
I’m lost in the salt, salt sea.
For last night, last night, the moon shone bright,
And you know that she had sons five,
Tonight she may look in the salt, salt waves
And find but one alive, alive,
And find but one alive.”
For boats, for boats, you fair Plymouth girls,
Don’t you hear how the trumpet sound?
For the want of a boat our good ship is lost
And the most of the young men drowned, oh drowned,
And the most of the young men drowned.
As rendered in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd:
The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, 1959.
Explanatory liner notes by ANTI-:
A traditional ballad that illustrates the deeply superstitious nature of sailors. In the old days, the sighting of a mermaid could foretell certain doom for the ship.