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A Ballad of John Silver (painting is Thermopylae)

A Ballad of John Silver
by John Masefield
Recited to the fleet by Captain Stephen Mann
June 30, 2000 S/V Tawodi Lat. N31:45 Long. W137:50

We were schooner rigged and rakish with a long and lissome hull
And we flew the pretty colors of the crossbones and the skull.

We had a big black Jolly Rodger flapping grimly at the fore.
And we sailed the Spanish water in the happy days of yore.

We had a long brass gun amidship like a well conducted ship
We each had a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip.

It's a point that tells against us and a fact to be deplored, but
We chased the goodly merchantmen and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains
And the paintwork was all splatterdashed with other people's 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.

Oh then it was how saddening by the aft rail on the poop
You could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken coop.

And having washed the blood away we had little else to do
Than dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

Ah the fiddle on the forecastle and the flapping naked soles
And the genial "Down the middle Jake, and curtsey when she rolls".

The silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead
The lookout not a looking and his pipe bowl glowing red.

Ah the pigtailed 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 blessed.

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