Rude Boreas

(The Storm)

Come rude Boreas, blust'ring railer, list ye landsmen all to me
Shipmates hear a brother sailor, sing of the dangers of the sea.
From bounding billows, first in motion, when the distant whirlwinds rise,
To the tempest troubled ocean, when the skies contend with skies.

Hark the bosun's hoarsely bawlin', by tops'l sheets an' halyards stand
Donn yer stays'ls, hard, boys, hard, down t'gallants quick be hauling,
See it freshens, set taut the braces, tops'l sheets now let go,
Luff, boys, luff, don't make wry faces, up yer tops'ls nimbly clew.

Now all ye on down beds a-sportin', fondly locked in Beauty's arms,
Fresh enjoyments, wanton courtin', safe from all but love alarms,
Round us roars the angry tempest, see what fears our minds enthrall,
Harder yet, it blows still harder, hark again the bosun's call.

The tops'l yard points to the wind, boys, see all clear to reef each course,
Let the foresheet go, don't mind boys, tho' the weather should be worse;
Fore'n 'aft the sprits'l yard get, reef the mizze, see all clear;
Hands up each preventer-brace get, man the for-yard, cheer, boys cheer!

All the while fierce thunder roaring, peel on peel contending flash,
On our head fierce rainfalls pourin', in our eyes blue lightning's flash;
All around us one wide water, all above us one black sky,
Different deaths at once surround us, Hark! What means that dreadful cry?

"The foremast's gone!" cried every tongue out, o'er the lee twelve foot above deck.
A leak there is beneath the chesstrees sprung, pipe all hands to clear the wreck;
Come out the lanyards all to pieces; come, me hearts, be stout an' bold,
Plumb the well, the leak increases, four foot water in the hold.

On the lee beam there is land, boys, let the guns overboard be thrown.
To the pump, come every hand, boys; see our mizzenmast is gone!
The leak we've found; it can't pour faster, we've lightened her a foot or more,
Up an' rig a jury foremast. She's right, she's right, boys, we're off shore.

Now once more on shore we're thinkin', since kind heaven has saved our lives,
Come the cup, now let's be drinkin', to our sweethearts an' our wives,
Fill it up, about ship wheel it, close to our lips a-brimmin' fine,
Where's the tempest? Now, who feels it? None! the danger's drowned in wine!

From Songs of the Sea by Stan Hugill (1977)
Roud Index: 949