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 crossbones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the 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 tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter dashed with other peoples 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.

O! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

O! the fiddle on the fo'c'sle, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!"
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.

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

by John Masefield

Comments (8)

a masefield poem by john masefield. i couldnt put this all in better words.
A parading ballad it is to read and enjoy! Nice flowing poem!
Words give a graphic description of baser pirate days of the wood sail, cutlass, brains and blood. Then the circle of joy over the booty.
This is wonderfully-made poem. You can see the the retired old pirate over his grog at an Inn from which he can see the ocean on which he was once such a terror regretting the passing of his exciting, if blood-soaked and nefarious, life.
na na NA na na na NA na na na NA na na na Na...It's a wonderful ballad, with an enjoyable rythm and an interesting content. This really deserves to be the poem of the day. And the pirate life aboard the ship is really described as a LIFE! Wooo! A great thumbs-up to you Ser!
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