Yellow Meal

As I walked out one morning down by the Sligo dock,
I overhead an Irishman conversing with Tapscott;
Good morning, Mr. Tapscott, would you be after telling to me,
Have you ever a ship bound for New York in the State of Amerikee.

Oh, yes, my pretty Irish boy, I have a ship or two,
They're laying at the wharf there, waiting for a crew;
They are New York packets, and on Friday they will sail,
At present she is taking in one thousand bags of meal.

Straightaway then I started, 'twas on the yellow-grog road,
Such roars of mille-murder! oh, the like was never known;
And there I paid my passage down in solid Irish gold,
It's often times that I sat down and wished myself at home.

The very day we started, 'twas on the one of May,
The captain he came upon the deck, these words to us did say;
Cheer up, my hearty Irish blades, don't let your courage fail.
Today I'll serve you pork and beans, tomorrow yellow meal.

One day as we were sailing in the channel of St. James,
A north-west wind came up to us, and drove us back again;
Bad luck to the Josh A. Walker, and the day that she set sail,
For the dirty sailors broke upon my chest, and stole my yellow meal.

But now I'm in America, and working upon the canal,
To cross the ocean in one of those boats, I know I never shall,
But I'll cross it in a great big ship that carries both meat and sail,
Where I'll get lashings of corned meat, and none of your yellow meal.

From The Daytons' Letter-Carrier Songster (New York, ca. 1882)
From Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman by William Main Doerflinger (1951, '72, '91)