Le Grand Coureur (The Great Racer)

The corsair, the Great Racer, is an ill-omened ship,
When she sets sail to hunt the English,
The wind, the seas, and the fight all go against the French.
Ch: Let's go, lads, cheerily, cheerily, let's go lads, so gaily!

She comes from Lorient with a good wind and sea,
She was hauling out on the port tack, sailing like a fish,
When a squall struck her tophamper an' the corsair was hulked.

We had to re-mast her, an' work like the devil,
While the job was progressin', there signaled from starboard,
A fine ship with port-covers on her guns.

As Englishman, in truth, with a double row of teeth,
Carrier of sudden death, but the Frenchman has no fear,
Instead of tryin' to escape, we challenge them to fight.

Their fire it rained upon us, we returned it shot for shot,
While her beard was singeing, in a great cloud of smoke,
She sailed away an' soon escaped us.

At the end of six months our prizes amounted to nothing more than three,
One ship, half sunk an' full of spuds,
The second with slippers for cargo, the third loaded with manure.

To recuperate from our fights, we had for our meals,
Dried beans and rancid bacon, vinegar instead of wine,
Biscuits long since rotten, an' morning camphor instead of coffee.

At the end of this fateful voyage, was our sinking as we made the port,
In this frightful distress, when each seaman saw himself lost,
We had to save ourselves, each one the best way he could.

The captain and his mate saved themselves on a gun,
The master using the great anchor, the steward in his grog-tub,
Ah, the wicked, bloody beggar, the robber of our rations!

You should have seen the cook, with his spoon an' meat-hook,
He got into his pot, like a horrid stew,
He went like the wind, made land like a thunderbolt.

For our horrible misfortune, the one responsible was the caulker,
Who, falling from the main-top, over the forecastle,
Bounced through the galley and smashed up the ship.

If this story of the Great Racer has touched your hears,
Have then the good manners to give generously,
Wine, rum, or beer, an' we shall all be happy.

English translation
From Songs of the Sea by Stan Hugill (1977)