Modern Street Ballads


You jolly sailors list to me,
I’ve been a fortnight home from sea,
Which time I’ve rambled night and day,
To have a lark on the Highway.

Listen, you jovial sailors gay,
To the rigs of Ratcliffe Highway.

Some lasses their heads will toss,
With bustles as big as a brewer’s horse,
Some wear a cabbage net called veil,
And a boa just like a buffalo’s tail.
I married a lass with her face so red,
She eat three salt herrings and a bullock’s head,
She danced a jig, then began to sing,
Drank a gallon of beer, and a pint of gin.

I have sailed, indeed, all over the world,
And never before my flag unfurled,
In India, China, and Bungo bay,
As the spot we call Ratcliffe Highway.

One night a lady did me drag,
To have a spree at the Lamb and Flag.
There she got drunk, and got in a row,
And sold her shoes at the Barley Mow.

There is eels and shrimps as black as fleas,
And a covey a selling blue grey peas,
There’s ugly Bet, and Dandy Jane,
At the King William in Gravel Lane.

Yes! you’ll see some girls as smart and neat,
As the Dowager Queen of Otaheite,
There’s every colour, indeed ’tis true,
Green, black and purple, yellow and blue.

I went one night to have a reel
At the Angel tap in Blue Coat Fields,
I danced, and capered, and sung a song,
And married a lady they call Miss Long.

I fell in with a lady so modest and meek,
She eat thirteen faggots, and nine pigs feet,
Three pounds of beef, and to finish the meal,
Eat eight pounds of tripe, and a large cow heel.

I met with another borne down with fear,
She guzzled down thirteen pots of beer,
She threw up her heels and play’d the deuce,
And broke her nose at the Paddy’s Goose.

You jovial sailors, one and all,
When you in the port of London call,
Mind Ratcliffe highway and the Damsels loose,
The William, the Bear, and the Paddy Goose.

You sailors bold my song obtain,
And learn it on the raging main.

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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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