I'll sing me a song of the rolling sky,
To the land that's beyond the Main,
To the ebb-tide bell or the salt pork meal,
That I'll never taste me again.
There's many a night I've lied me down,
To hear the teak baulks cry,
To a melody sweet with a shanty-man beat
As the stars went swimming by
Don't ask me where I've damn well bin,
Don't ask me what I did,
For every thumb's a marline-spike,
And every finger's a fid.
I mind the times as we were becalmed,
With never a breath for the sheet,
With a red sun so hot that the water would rot,
And the decking would blister your feet.
And then there's the times, as we rounded the Horn,
With a cargo of silk for Cadiz,
The swell roll was so high it were lashing the sky
Till the whole ruddy world were a fizz!
Be it spices from Java or copra from Yap,
Or a bosun so free with the lash,
It were "Up with the anchor!" and "Run out the spanker!"
And "Damn it, move faster than that!"
I've loved proud women from Spain's lusty land,
And I've seen where the Arab girl sleeps,
And the black girls as well, though they're fiery as hell,
Have all kissed me when silver was cheap.
Lord, how the man's changed from the young cabin boy
To the old man that sits on this bench!
Now he's too old to fight or to stay out all night
In the company of some pretty wench.
Just an old clipper man who's long past his best years,
He knows that he'll never be free
From the smell of the tar that once braided his hair,
From the salty old tang of the sea.