Modern Street Ballads


Here I am, poor Jack,
Just come home from Sea,
With shiners in my sack,
Pray what do you think of me?
Eight long years I have been
Cruising the wide world over,
Many a droll sight have I seen,
But I wish the War was over.

I’ve sailed in many a flood,
Where cans of grog did pour,
Fought up to my knees in blood,
Where bullets flew in showers,
Where the French cried out parblue,
The Dutch cried out Peccavi.
The Danes and Spaniards too,
Went tumbling to old Davy.

Sailors have mann’d the gales,
Let it rain, blow or fog,
The purser often fails
To serve us out with grog.
I’ve crossed the Equinoctial line,
Where the sun would scorch your nose off,
I’ve sailed in such a clime,
Where the frost would bite your toes off.

It was off the coast of Spain,
Coming from a six months’ cruise,
Little did I think to hear
Of such glorious news.
I heard our people tell,
Talking of an invasion,
But that I knew full well,
Was all a botheration.

I next was at the Nore,
We cast anchor in the night,
Looking towards the shore,
A boat appeared in sight.
As on the yard we lay,
Our topsails for to furl,
I heard our pilot say
There’s peace with all the world.*

I wish it was a peace,
And all our men on shore,
With the shiners in my sack,
And go to sea no more.
And should war come again,
Damme if I don’t enter,
And, like a jolly tar,
Both life and limb, I’ll venture.

* This, in all probability, was the Peace of 1814.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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