The Nightingale

(Sweet Nightingale)

Both old and young, I pray lend an ear
To a lovesick maiden in deep despair,
Whose heart was light, but whose courage failed,
When her true love sailed in the Nightingale.

My parents were of high degree,
My true love not so rich as they,
So they sent a press gang which did not fail
To press my true love in the Nightingale.

As I that night on my pillow lay,
A form before me these words did say:
"Go tell your parents they may bequail [that they may quail?]
For the loss of your true love in the Nightingale.

"On the fifteenth day of December last,
The wind did blow a most fearful blast.
We lost our spars, likewise every sail.
What a dismal wreck was the Nightingale.

As I awoke in an awful fright,
It being the hour of twelve at night,
For to see his ghost standing cold and pale,
Just as he was drowned from the Nightingale,

These words he spake in lamenting cries:
"In the Bay of Biscay my body lies
To become the prey of a shark or whale,
With my drownded shipmates of the Nightingale."

From Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman by William Main Doerflinger (1951, '72, '91)