Digital Tradition Mirror

Shantyman's Hail

Shantyman's Hail
(Fred Gosbee)

cho: Hey ho! Roll and go!
     Round Cape Horn to San Francisco
     Shantyman sing, boys, pull on the line
     And we're back in record time.

At Bath down in Maine they built many tall ships
They were faired up and planked then launched down the slips
The strength of our nation was built on the pine
Of the mast-trees that harnessed the wind.

There were schooners and sloops and all kinds of small craft
Warships with cannons both foreward and aft
And the queens of the seas, the graceful clippers
Mighty proud men were their skippers

Then the steam-powered ships came along
Their engines replaced the shantyman's song
And the men in the hellish heat down in the hold
Spent their watches shoveling coal

First coal, then oil, then nuclear heat
Replaced all the wind-driven ships in the fleet
And skills handed down for hundreds of years
Have all but disappeared

And where went the tall ships that once sailed so free
Under clouds of white canvas across the salt sea
With the wind in their rigging and foam at the bow
Tell me, where are they now?

Well some were scrapped and some can be found
Like the Luther and the Hesper, up the Sheepscot aground
Some were towed out to deep water and sunk
Regarded as no more than junk

We can't live forever on fuel from the ground
The price go up and no more will be found
If we're still around for the next age of sail
We might hear that shantyman hail.

Copyright Fred Gosbee, 1984

Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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