The Ward Line

De cap'n's in de pilot house ringin' de bell,
Ch: Who's on the way boys, who's on de way?
'N' de mate's down 'atween decks giv'n de niggas hell!
Ch: Tell me, whar yo' goin'?


When I sign on de cap'n say,
"On dis fine ship, no wo'k all play."

De mate he say "no wo'k on de ship,
Jes' lay aroun' an' enjoy de trip."

De mate he say "one trip up de lake,
Jes' set yo' up like a plutocrate."

Ah'd rudd'r be daid 'n' a'lyin' in de san',
Dan make a'nudda trip on de "Old Black Sam."

Her smokestack's black 'n' her whis'l's brown,
'N' I wish de Lawd ah'd a'stay'd in town.

Ah don' min' wo'kin' by de light o' de moon,
If de cap'n giv' us a half-hour noon.

"Git along, der, Mose, yo' feet ain't stuck,
Jes' hump yo' back an' push dat truck."

"Git along, der, Mose, push dat truck,
By 'n' by yo' dead, 'n' yo' have good luck."

Takes tons o' coppa' t' fill dat hol',
"Step along, der, nigga, damn yo' soul."

It's wo'k all night an' wo'k all day,
An' all yo' get am not half pay.

De mate say, "Sam, I'se raise yo' pay,
Yo' now git fifty cents a day!"

Roll 'em up dat long gangplank,
It make yo' thin 'n' lean 'n' lank.

City folks, dey's gon' to bed,
But we push coppa till we's dead.

De cap'n he give us a *tub o' suds,
It burn yo' belly 'n' rot yo' guts.

Jes' one drink fum de cap'n's tin,
'N' it makes yo' feel like commit'n sin.

Black boy, tick'l dat ol' banjo,
It lif' yo' heels an' make 'em go.

It make me think o' ma Liza Lou,
When she hear music, man! What she do!

Lake Superior's col'er 'n' ice,
Fall in jes' once, freeze all yo' lice.

Lake Superior's big an' rough,
'N' fo' dis nigga, one trip's enough.

It mus' be hours pas' dinna time,
'N' boss, ah's sho' da eat'n kind.

De Ward's boun' up, de Moran's boun' down,
'N' de John M. Nichol am hawd agroun'.

De Wm. H. Stevens is a'lyin' roun' de ben',
'N' all she's doin' is a'killin' good men.

Now I'se goin' back to Detrite,
'N' no more wo'k both day 'n' night.

'N' ah's goin' way down to Mobile
Whar white man bring de nigga's meal.

'N' ah's goin' down to Baltimore,
'N ah's ain't goin' to wo'k at all no more.