The Ship In Distress

You seamen bold who plough the ocean
See dangers landsmen never know.
'Tis not for honour or promotion;
No tongue can tell what they undergo.
In the blusterous wind and the great dark water
Our ship went drifting on the sea,
Her rigging gone, and her rudder broken,
Which brought us to extremity.

For fourteen days, heartsore and hungry,
Seeing but wild water and bitter sky,
Poor fellows all stood in a totter,
A-casting lots as to who should die.
Their lot it fell on Robert Jackson,
Whose family was so great.
“I'm free to die, but oh, me comrades,
Let me keep look-out till the break of day.”

A full dressed ship like the sun a-glittering
Came bearing down to their relief.
As soon as this glad news was shouted,
It banished all their care and grief.
Our ship brought to, no longer drifting,
Safe in Saint Vincent, Cap Verde, she lay.
You seamen all, who hear my story,
Pray you'll ne'er suffer the like again.

Martin Carthy