The Common Sailor I am a man before the mast, I plough the trackless sea And on this simple subject, won't you please enlighten me? Common sailors we are called, pray tell me the reason why This sneering adjective unto us which you so often reply Chorus: Don't call us common sailors any more, any more Don't call us common sailors any more Good things to you we bring, why call us common men? We're as good as any lubber on the shore When speaking of a man on shore I never hear you say He is a common this or that, be his calling what it may Be he a travelling tinker, a scavenger or sweep Then why term common unto those who travel on the deep? For is it not your proudest boast that England rules the waves? But could you say as much if none its dangers brave? Among the nations of the world what would old England be But for those battles dearly won by her children on the sea How would you get your luxuries, will you just tell to me Unless these men from foreign lands brought you sugar, coffee and tea? And when the merry Christmas comes how would your pudding taste Unless these men from foreign lands brought you spices, fruits and grapes? Say you are invited to the boons and many more To the common British sailor that seeks the foreign shore Young ladies of our country too you should our calling bless For the foreign silks and satins of which you make your dress To be admired by gentlemen undoubtfully you do Then don't despise such gallant men that bring such dainties to you And lads that like the fragrant weed, while smoking at your ease Just think upon those sleepless nights we spend upon the seas And all of you that slight us so I'd have you go and try One night upon the stormy sea when raging winds are high Amidst the driving, blinding snow, the pelting hail and rain It would be a tempting circumstance if they caught you there again But we ask not for you pity, but give to us our due Respect us in proportion for the good things that we do And the good things that you ask us for we will faithfully procure It shall be brought without delay unto your very door Excuse our little awkwardness, we are not perfect, quite Our heads, I own, are sometimes wrong, but I hope our hearts are right I hope the time will soon be past When folks on shore despise a man who sails before the mast And lastly this wholesome track by nobody be forgot With lords and dukes and all the highest folds must share our common lot from The Oxford Book of Sea Songs, Roy Palmer, ed. RA
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