“Fire Down Below” the last shanty

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“Fire Down Below” in addition to being the title of a film and a rock song is above all a sea shanty) according to Stan Hugill “the laswt shanty”. Given the theme it was often used as pump chanty but also as capstan chanty.

JOHN SHORT VERSION

The authors of the project “Short Sharps Shanties” write: There was a broadside called Fire! Fire! Fire! – printed by the Glasgow Poet’s Box on the 23rd Nov. 1867.  Versions were also printed by Fortey of London and Sanderson of Edinburgh at about the same time. The chorus is obviously related to, if not the origin of, the shanty:Fire! fire! fire!, Now I’s bound to go;
Can’t you give us a bucket of water,
Dere’s a fire down below.
The text is in a faux-Negro patois and describes Aunt Sally nearly dying in a house-fire.  There was also a parody, printed by Such of London at about the same time, where the text is concerned with a country boy’s encounter with a city girl and the more familiar ‘fire down below’ caused by venereal disease.
Fire! fire! fire!, Fire down below;
Let us hope that we shall never see,
A fire down below.
Perhaps surprisingly, neither theme seems to recur in any of the collected versions of the shanty although plenty of contemporary shanty-singers adopt a nudge-nudge-wink-wink view of the chorus. Tozer and Sharp give it as a pumping shanty, Hugill cites it as a favourite for the purpose, and Colcord says that “Almost any of the capstan shanties could be used on the pump-brakes, but a few were kept [as this one is], by the force of convention, for no other use.”
Hugill comments that, of his five versions, Short’s version has “a not so musical pattern. This form has become popular with radio shanty-singers.”  All verses except the last come from Short although, inexplicably, he only gave Sharp the ‘fire in the galley’ verse on the day and subsequently sent him, by post, the other four verses. (tratto da qui)

Jackie Oates from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor Vol 1 (su Spotify)

Chorus
Fire, fire, fire down below,
It’s Fetch a bucket of water girls
There’s fire down below.
I
Fire in the galley, fire down below.
It’s fetch a bucket of water girls,
There’s fire down below.
fire, fire..
II
Fire in the bottom fire in the main
It’s fetch a bucket of water girls,
And put it out again.
fire, fire..
III
As I walked out one morning
all in the month of June
I overheard an irish girl
sing this old song
fire, fire..
IV
Fire in the lifeboat,
fire in the gig(6),
Fire in the pig-stye roasting of the pig.
fire, fire..
V
Fire up aloft boy  and fire down below,
It’s fetch a bucket of water girls,
There’s fire down below.


Shanty Gruppe Breitling
from Haul the Bowline 2013 


Fire in the galley, fire in the house,
Fire in the beef kid(1), scorching the scouse(2).
Fire, fire, fire down below,
Fetch a bucket of water boys
Fire down below.
Fire in the forepeak(3) fire in the main(4)
fire in the windlass(5) fire in the chain.
Fire in the lifeboat, fire in the gig(6),
Fire in the pig-stye roasting the pig.
Fire on the orlop(7) (cabine) fire in the hold.
Fire in the strong room melting the gold.
Fire round the capstan(5), fire on the mast,
Fire on the main deck, burning it fast.
Fire on .. 

NOTES
1) Beefkid = small wooden tub in which beef salt is served.
2) It is a traditional dish of Liverpool, that is a meat stew with potatoes, onions, carrots. It is a popular dish of poor cooking. Scouse is also the typical accent of Liverpool (of the popular classes) with clear Celtic influences, the origin of the accent is derived most likely from the English pronunciation by Irish immigrants arrived in Liverpool to look for work. In the 1841 census a quarter of the inhabitants of Liverpool were born in Ireland and again from the census at the beginning of the twenty-first century it was found that 60% of Liverpudlians originated in Ireland.
3) forepeak= the interior part of a vessel that is furthest forward; the part of a ship’s interior in the angle of the bow
4) main= ocean
5) windlass and capstan they are two different “machines” which, however, perform the same function, that of lifting weights by the use of a rope or chain.
6) gig= A light rowboat, powerboat or sailboat, often used as a fast launch for the captain or for a lighthouse keeper. The gig was always designed for speed, and was not used as a working boat.
7) orlop = the name of a lower deck.

CARIBBEAN VERSION

This version comes from the Caribbean fishermen from the Isle of Nevis (reported by Roger Abrahams in “Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore”)
Hulton Clint

FOLK VERSION

A decadent version that with the “fire in the lower parts” alludes to the disruptive sexuality of a young girl!

Nick Cave from Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys  ANTI 2006.

She was the parson’s daughter
With her red and rosy cheeks
(Way, hey, hee, hi, ho!)
She went to church on Sunday
And sang the anthem sweet
(‘Cause there’s fire down below)
The parson was a misery
So scraggy and so thin
“Look here, you motherfuckers
If you lead a life of sin.
He took his text from Malachi(1)
And pulled a weary face
Well, I fucked off for Africa
And there, I feel(2) from grace.
The parson’s little daughter
Was as sweet as sugar-candy
I said to her, “us sailors
Would make lovers neat and handy”.
She says to me, “you sailors
Are a bunch of fucking liars
And all of you are bound to hell
To feed the fucking fires”.
Well, there’s fire down below, my lad
So we must do what we oughta
‘Cause the fire is not half as hot
As the parson’s little daughter.
Yes, there’s fire (fire)
Down (down)
Below (below)

NOTES
1) Malachi was an Old Testament Prophet who lived in the fifth century a. C.
2) found written both as a feel and as a fell

LINK
http://www.bethsnotesplus.com/2015/01/fire-down-below.html
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/783.html
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/19/fire.htm
http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=2020
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=35083
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or32B_IZWKs
https://ismaels.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/rogue%E2%80%99s-gallery-the-art-of-the-siren-4/

Blow the man down sea shanty

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“Blow  the man down”, that is to knock a man down or strike with a fist, belaying pin or capstan bar, is a popular sea shanty.

There are a great variety of texts of this halyard shanty, with the same melody, and after the version for the cartoon character “Popeye” it has also become a song for children!

Billy Costello the voice of the first Popeye

According to Stan Hugill “the shanty was an old Negro song Knock A Man Down. This song, a not so musical version of the later Blow The Man Down, was taken and used by the hoosiers of Mobile Bay, and at a later date carried by white seamen of the Packet Ships.

Knock a man down

The original version probably comes from African-American workers, but ended up in the repertoire of liners along the transatlantic route. In his video Ranzo combines the melody of Stan Hugill with that of John Short: in the first text the shantyman would prefer to be on the ground, to enjoy themselves with drinks and girls.
Hulton Clint

There are three main themes.

FIRST VERSION: prime seamen onboard a Black Ball

The oldest version is the one in which the novice sailors are soon aware of the harsh and violent climate on the Black Baller.

black-ball
In addition to the flag the Black Ball of the Black Ball Line was drawn on the fore-topsail

As Hugill says ” Chief Mates in Western Ocean ships were known as “blowers”, second mates as “strikers”, and third mates as “greasers.”
Packets and Blowers
A Packet ship was one which had a contract to carry packets (formerly “paquettes”) of mail. The earliest and most famous transatlantic packet route was the Liverpool service, started in 1816 by the Black Ball Line, with regular departures from New York on the 1st and 16th of every month without fail, regardless of weather or other inconveniences. These early ships of 300 to 500 tons averaged 23 days for the eastward voyage and 40 days to return westward. Cabin passengers were usually gentlefolk of good breeding, who expected to find courtesy and politeness in the captains with whom they sailed. Packet captains were remarkable men, hearty, bluff, and jovial, but never coarse, always a gentleman.
The mates, on the other hand, had no social duties to distract their attention, and devoted their time and energies to extracting the very maximum of performance from both their vessel and its crew, so it is no surprise that it was on board the Black Ball liners that “belaying pin soup” and “handspike hash” first became familiar items of the shipboard regime. A hard breed of sailor was required to maintain the strict schedules whatever the weather, and it took an even harder breed of mate to keep this rough and ready bunch in some sort of order. If all else failed then then Rule of the Fist applied: to “blow a man down” was to knock him down with any means available – fist, belaying pin, or capstan bar being the weapons most often preferred. (from here)

“Capstan Bars” di David Bone 1932
CHORUS
oh! Blow the man down, bullies.
Blow the man down W-ay! hey?
Blow the man down!
Blow the man down bullies.
Blow him right down, give us the time and we’ll blow the man down!
Come all ye young fellers that follows the sea.
W-ay! hey? Blow the man down!
I’ll sing ye a song if ye’ll listen t’ me.
Give us the time an’ we’ll blow the man down!
‘Twas in a Black Baller I first served my time.
and in a Black Baller I wasted my prime.
‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparin’ for sea.
Th’sights in th’ fo’ cas’le(1) is funny t’ see
Wi’ sodgers (2) an’ tailors an’ dutchmen an’ all,
As ships for prime seamen(3) aboard th’ Black Ball.
But when th’ Black Baller gets o’ th’ land
it’s then as ye’ll hear th’ sharp word o’ command.
oh! it’s muster ye sodgers an’ tailors an’ sich.
an’ hear ye’re name called by a son of a bitch.
it’s “fore-topsail halyards”(4), th’ Mate(5) he will roar.
“oh, lay along smartly you son of a whore”.
oh, lay along smartly each lousy recroot.
Wor it’s lifted ye’ll be wi’ th’ toe of a boot.

NOTES
1 )the forward part of a ship below the deck, traditionally used as the crew’s living quarters.
2) sodger vvariant of soldier is used as an insult in the sense of ambush, slacker, one who always tries to escape from work, that when there is work, goes away or retires
3) the inexperienced and the novices are good only for the easy maneuvers
4) fore-topsail halyards= In sailing, a halyard or halliard is a line (rope) that is used to hoist a ladder, sail, flag or yard; fore-topsai  the sail above the foresail set on the fore-topmast
5) Mate= first officer

The Seekers


I
Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea
To me weigh hey blow the man down
And pray pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
I’m a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong
If you’ll give me some rum I’ll sing you a song-
II
T’was on a Black Baller I first spent my time
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime
T’is when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea
You’d split your sides laughing at the sights that you see
III
With the tinkers and tailors and soldiers and all
That ship for prime seamen onboard a Black Ball
T’is when a Black Baller is clear of the land
Our boatswain then gives us the word of command
IV
“Lay aft” is the cry “to the break of the poop
Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot”
T’is larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball
Aye first it’s a fist and then it’s a pall
When you ship as a sailor aboard the Black Ball

SECOND  VERSION: I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor

The second version tells the story of a “flying-fish sailor” just landed in Liverpool from Hong Kong, swapped by a policeman for a “blackballer”. The sailor reacts by throwing the policeman on the ground with a sting and obviously ends up in jail for a few months.

Stan Hugill& Pusser’s Rum from Sailing Songs  (1990)


I’ll sing you a song if you give some gin
To me wey-hey, blow the man down
?? down to the pin
Gimme some time to blow the man down
As I was rolling down Paradise street(1)
a big irish scuffer boy (2) I chanced for to meet,
Says he, “You’re a Blackballer from the cut of your hair(3);
you’re a Blackballer by the clothes that you wear.
“You’ve sailed in a packet that flies the Black Ball,
You’ve robbed some poor Dutchman of boots, clothes and all.”
“O policeman, policeman, you do me great wrong;
I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor(4) just home from Hongkong!”
So I stove in his face and I smashed in his jaw.
Says he, “Oh young feller, you’re breaking the law!”
They gave me six months in Liverpool town
For bootin’ and a-kickin’ and a-blowing him down.
We’re a Liverpool ship with a Liverpool crew
A Liverpool mate(5) and a Scouse(6) skipper too
We’re Liverpool born and we’re Liverpool bred
Thick in the arm, boys, and thick in the head
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
With a crew of hard cases(7) from Liverpool town

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2 sassy policeman or big Irish copper: scuffer is a typical nineteenth-century term for policeman
3) all the Black Baller line sailors wore their hair cut short
4) According to Hugill a flying-fish sailor is a sailor ” who preferred the lands of the East and the warmth of the Trade Winds to the cold and misery of the Western Ocean
5) first mate
6) scouse is a term used by the people of Liverpool which is also the name given to the local dialect. Originally born from the habits of the sailors of Liverpool to eat the stew of lamb and vegetables probably derived from the Norwegian “skause”. It refers to the English spoken language typical of Irish immigrants
7) hard cases: a tough or intractable person, a person who is hard to get along with.

JOHN SHORT VERSION: Knock a man down

The shantyman John Short sings a very personal version compared to the “Blow the man down” reported in the shanties archives, in the arrangement for the Short Sharp Shanties the authors write ” ” Fox-Smith, Colcord and Doeflinger all comment on the number of different texts which the shanty carried.  Hugill gives six different sets of words and Short’s words are not really related to any of them – so we have added ‘general’ verses from other versions.  Specifically, we’ve added the ‘Market Street’, ‘spat in his face’ and ‘rags are all gone’ verses – the rest are Short’s.”
Sam Lee from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2 


As I was a-walking down Market street
way ay knock a man down, 
a bully old watchman I chanced for to meet
O give me some time to knock a man down.
Chorus

Knock a man down, kick a man down ;
way ay knock a man down,
knock a man down
right down to the ground,
O give me some time to knock a man down.

The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high (1),
The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high.
So I spat in his face by gave him good jaw
and says he “me young  you’re breaking the law!”
[chorus]
I wish I was in London Town.
It’s there we’d make them girls fly round.
She is a lively ship and a lively crew.
O we are the boys to put her through
[chorus]
The rags are all gone and (?the chains they are jam?)
and the skipper he says  (? “If the weather be high”?)
[chorus]

NOTES
A transcription still incomplete because I can not understand the pronunciation of the final verses
1) it was not unusual that the watchmen since the Middle Ages were accompanied with a dog, as can be seen from many vintage illustrations

THIRD VERSION: Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

000brgcf
The most widespread version is about an unfortunate meeting in Paradise street with a young “damself” sometimes compared to a ship in which, metaphorically, the sailor would want to embark.
The awakening is bitter, because he was shanghaiing on a Yankee ship. (see more)

the Haunted Saloon

I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea
Way – hey, blow the man down.
I trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me; Give me some time to blow the man down.
Chorus
Blow the man down, bully, blow the man down; Way – hey, blow the man down.
Blow the man down, boys, from Liverpool town; 
Give me some time to blow the man down.

As I was a-walking down Paradise street
A handsome young damsel I happened to meet
At the pub down on Lime street I then went astray
I drank enough stout for to fill Galway Bay
The next I remember I woke in the dawn
On a tall Yankee clipper that was bound round Cape Horn.
Come all ye young fellows who follow the sea
Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

Woody Guthrie from Songs of American Sailormen, 1988 version collected by Joanna Colcord


As I was out walkin’ down Paradise street(1),
To me way, hey, blow the man down!
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet,
Give me some time to blow the man down!

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
So I took in all sail and cried “way enough now”(2)
I hailed her in English, she answered me clear
“I’m from the Black Arrow bound to the Shakespeare”
So I tailed her my flipper(3) and took her in tow
And yard-arm to yard-arm(4), away we did go
But as we were a-going she said unto me
“There’s a spankin’ full rigger(5) just ready for sea”
That spankin’ full rigger to New York was bound
She was very well mannered and very well found
But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar(6)
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar
As soon as that packet was out on the sea
‘Twas devilish hard treatment of every degree
So I give you fair warning before we belay
Don’t never take heed of what pretty girls say.

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2) way enough now from Weigh enough – Take the stroke, put the blades on the water and relax. “Weigh enough” (or “Wain…’nuff”, or “Way enough”) (USA) The command to stop what ever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing.
3) flipper= hand
4) yard-arm to yard-arm= Very close to each other.
5) rigger=packet
6) The bar of Mersey river.

Allen Robertson for the cartoon version of Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs 2007

I
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!
II
As I was a walking down Paradise Street
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
III
So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
IV
But as we were going she said unto me
There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.
V
So just as that lass I reached not to far
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
VI
It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
For Captain Jack Sparrow commands the Black Pearl
VII
So I was shangaiing aboard this old ship
she took off me money and gave me to sleep
VIII
So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.

CARRIBEAN VERSIONS

Two variants from the Nevis and Carriacou islands so Ranzo writes in the notes: “The variation from Nevis, with its repeated phrase “in the hold below”, suggests the song was once associated with stevedores loading cargo. This is fascinating, because it is consistent with (my reading of the) evidence that “Blow the Man Down” was initially a stevedore song, in which the act of blowing “the man down” was perhaps a metaphor for stowing each piece of cargo. Also, the many variations, “hit,” “knock,” “kick,” “blow” are consistent with other historical data that “knock a man down” was an/the early form. The variation was sung by Roy Gumbs and party of Nevis in 1962. Lomax recorded it, and Abrahams transcribed it in his 1974 book. The second variation is from Carriacou. It refers to a vessel named _Cariso_. It was sung by Daniel Aikens and chorus in 1962.”

LINK
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowdown.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/btmd/index.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/blowdown
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/blow-the-man-down.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/flying-fish-sailor.html http://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/blow-the-man-down-chords-lyrics
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowthemandown.htm
http://www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm

Little Billee sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

A sea song with caustic humorism also entitled “Three Sailors from Bristol City” or “Little Boy Billee”, which deals with a disturbing subject for our civilization, but always around the corner: cannibalism!
The sea is a place of pitfalls and jokes of fate, a storm can take you off course, on a boat or raft, without food and water, it’s a subject also treated in great painting (Theodore Gericault, The raft of the Medusa see): human life poised between hope and despair.

The three sailors

The maritime songs can express the biggest fears with a good laugh! This song was born in 1863 with the title “The three sailors” written by William Makepeace Thackeray as a parody of “La Courte Paille” (= short straw) – that later became “Le Petit Navire” (The Little Corvette) as a nursery rhyme.(see first part): cases of cannibalism at sea as an extreme resource for survival were much debated by public opinion and the courts themselves were inclined to commute death sentences in detention.
The murder by necessity (or the sacrifice of one for the good of others) finds a justification in the terrible experience of death by starvation that pushes the human mind to despair and madness, but in 1884 the case of the sinking of Mignonette broke public opinion and the same home secretary Sir William Harcourt had to say “if these men are not condemned for the murder, we are giving carte blanche to the captain of any ship to eat the cabin boy every time the food is scarce “. (translated from here).
The ruling stands as a leading case and puts life as a supreme good by not admitting murder for necessity as self-defense

Little Billee
Bernard Partridge Cartoons

From notes of “Penguin Book” (1959):
The Portugese Ballad  A Nau Caterineta  and the French ballad  La Courte Paille  tell much the same story.  The ship has been long at sea, and food has given out.  Lots are drawn to see who shall be eaten, and the captain is left with the shortest straw.  The cabin boy offers to be sacrificed in his stead, but begs first to be allowed to keep lookout till the next day.  In the nick of time he sees land (“Je vois la tour de Babylone, Barbarie de l’autre côté”) and the men are saved.  Thackeray burlesqued this song in his  Little Billee.  It is likely that the French ballad gave rise to The Ship in Distress, which appeared on 19th. century broadsides.  George Butterworth obtained four versions in Sussex (FSJ vol.IV [issue 17] pp.320-2) and Sharp printed one from James Bishop of Priddy, Somerset (Folk Songs from Somerset, vol.III, p.64) with “in many respects the grandest air” which he had found in that county.  The text comes partly from Mr. Bishop’s version, and partly from a broadside.”  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

Ralph Steadman from “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006″.


There were three men of Bristol City;
They stole a ship and went to sea.
There was Gorging Jack and Guzzling Jimmy
And also Little Boy Billee.
They stole a tin of captain’s biscuits
And one large bottle of whiskee.
But when they reached the broad Atlantic
They had nothing left but one split pea.
Said Gorging Jack to Guzzling Jimmy,
“We’ve nothing to eat so I’m going to eat thee.”
Said Guzzling Jimmy, “I’m old and toughest,
So let’s eat Little Boy Billee.”
“O Little Boy Billy, we’re going to kill and eat you,
So undo the top button of your little chemie.(1)”

“O may I say my catechism
That my dear mother taught to me?”
He climbed up to the main topgallant(2)
And there he fell upon his knee.
But when he reached the Eleventh(3) Commandment,
He cried “Yo Ho! for land I see.”
“I see Jerusalem and Madagascaar
And North and South Amerikee.”
“I see the British fleet at anchor
And Admiral Nelson, K.C.B. (4)”
They hung Gorging Jack and Guzzling Jimmy
But they made an admiral of Little Boy Billee.

NOTES
Thackeray lyrics here
1) from french chemise
2) or top fore-gallant
2) his companions did not have to be very attached to the Bible (and probably Billy would have invented new ones to save time!)
4)  “Knight Commander of the Bath”, the chivalrous military order founded by George I in 1725

SEA SHANTY VERSION

According to Stan Hugill “Little Billee” was a sea shanty for pump work, a boring and monotonous job that could certainly be “cheered up” by this little song! Hugill only reports the text saying that the melody is like the French “The était a Petit Navire”, so the adaptation of Hulton Clint  has the performance of a lullaby.

I
There were three sailors of Bristol City;
They stole a boat and went to sea.
But first with beef and hardtack biscuits
And pickled pork they loaded she.
And pickled pork they loaded she
II
There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
And likewise there was little Billee.
but when they got to the Equator
They’d only left but one split pea.
III
Then gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
“I am confounded hungaree.”
Says guzzling Jimmy to gorging Jacky
“We’ve no wittles (1), so we must eat we.”
IV
Said Gorging Jack to Guzzling Jimmy,
“Oh Guzzling Jim what a fool you be..
There’s little Billy, who’s young and tender,
We’re old and tough, so let’s eat he.”
V
“Make haste, make haste” then say Guzzling Jimmy
as he drew his snickher snee (2)
“O Billy, we’re going to kill and eat you,
undo the collar of your chemie.”
VI
When William heard this information
he drope down on bended knee
“O let me say my catechism
which my dear mom taught to me”
VII
So up he went to the maintop-gallant
and he drope down on his bended knee
and than he said  all his catechism
which his dear mamy once taught to he
VIII
He scarce had said his catechism
when up he jumps “There’s land I see
Jerusalem and Madagascaar
And North and South Amerikee.”
IX
“Jerusalem and Madagascar,
And North and South Amerikee;
There’s the British fleet a-riding at anchor,
With Admiral Napier, K.C.B.”
X
When they bordered to Admiral’s vessel,
He hanged fat Jack (3) and flogged Jimmee;
as for little Bill they make him
The Captain of a Seventy-three (4).

NOTES
1)  It’s a mispronunciation of “vittles,” which is a corrupted form of “victuals,” which means “food.”
2) a particularly lethal big knife used as a weapon
3)in some versions the degree of guilt between the two sailors is distinguished, so only one is hanged
4) 73 cannon war vessel

And for corollary here is the French version “Un Petit Navire”

LINK
http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=139
http://www.bartleby.com/360/9/84.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_%C3%A9tait_un_petit_navire
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8278
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=22872

Banks of Newfoundland sea shanty

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There are several sea songs entitled “the Banks of Newfoundland”, not to be properly considered variations on the same melody, even if they share a common theme, the dangers of fishing or navigation offshore of Newfoundland.

As a first approach I classified the titles on the first verse and grouped a first block.

  • Me bully boys of Liverpool
  • O you western ocean labourers
  • Come all me lads and fair young maids

Me bully boys o’ Liverpool

Probably the best known version of “the Banks of Newfoundland”, describing the dangers of winter navigation in the North Atlantic.
The incipit is as a warning song directed to the “bully boys” of Liverpool (or Belfast according to the Irish Rovers version): they are mostly Irish workers of the mid-nineteenth century who let themselves be attracted by the short engagement time on an Atlantic line ship without realizing the hard working conditions (see the Black Ball Line study)
The ballad perhaps began in Ireland as a broadside, but it became popular as forebitter song (or capstan shanty) on the sailing ships carrying emigrants from Britain to America during the 19th century, and was preserved by maritime singers in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Black Ball Line clipper in a strong wind: the largest sails have been reefed, and the highest sails closed

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd from Blow Boys Blow, 1957
Lloyd notes “In winter, the westward run from Liverpool to New York was a hard trip for packet ships, through heavy ships, contrary winds, sleet and snow. The large crews were kept busy reefing as the gales increased or piling on canvas whenever the wind abated.  The Banks of Newfoundland sets out the picture of a hard Western Ocean crossing before the days of steam.” (from here)

Great Big Sea (from I to III, V,  see) same melody but marching trend

I
Me bully boys o’ Liverpool,
I’ll have you to beware,
When ye sail in the packet ship (1),
no dungaree jumpers wear (2);
But have a big monkey jacket (3)
all ready to your hand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers (4)/on the Banks of Newfoundland!
Chorus
We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
With holystone and sand (5),
And we think of them cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
There was Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more (6),
I tell ye where, they suffered like hell
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned (7) their gear in Liverpool
and they sailed as they did stand,
there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
The mate he stood on the fo’c’sle (8) head, and loudly he did roar:
“Now rattle (9) her in, my lucky lads!
We’re bound for America’s shore!
Go wash the mud off that dead-man’s face
and heave to beat the band (10),
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland!”
IV
So now it’s reef and reef (11), me boys,
with the canvas frozen hard,
And it’s mount and pass (12) every mother’s son
on a ninety-foot tops’l yard.
Never mind about boots and oilskins,
but haul or you’ll be damned!
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off the Hook (12), me boys,
and the lands are white with snow,
But soon we’ll see the pay table
and have all night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
Saying, “It’s snugger with me
than it is at sea on the Banks of Newfoundland.”

NOTES
1) “Packet ships” used to carry mail from Britain to America.
2) dungaree (dungeon ) jumper, jacket= denim jacket
3) “monkey jacket” because of its resemblance to the short jacket of the trained monkeys, it was a short, close-fitting wool jacket with double-breasted and pewter buttons favored by sailors; we find the term in Melville “no more monkey jackets and tarpaulins for me”. Yet even the toughest woolen jacket was not free to become soaking wet under a storm. For these sailors waterproofed their clothes, shoes and hair with resinous substances
4) the wind that blows from NW pushes in the South-East direction, in the wind rose it is called the Mistral wind
5) the maintenance work of the hull is carried out in the dry dock, where the ship is taken to dryness, but not having a special port basin the ship was pulled to shore at high tide and made to lay on its side
6) the crews of the Atlantic packet ships were for the most part Irish
7)  as Italo Ottonello teaches us “At the signing of the recruitment contract for long journeys, the sailors received an advance equal to three months of pay which, to guarantee compliance with the contract, it was provided in the form of “I will pay”, payable three days after the ship left the port, “as long as said sailor has sailed with that ship.” Everyone invariably ran to look for some complacent sharks who bought their promissory note at a discounted price, usually of forty percent, with much of the amount provided in kind. “The purchasers, boarding agents and various procurers,” the enlisters, “as they were nicknamed,” were induced to ‘seize’ the sailors and bring them on board, drunk or drugged, with little or no clothes beyond what they were wearing, and squandering or stealing all sailor advances.
8) “Fo’c’sle” is a contraction of “fore castle” (fore = foreward), the living quarters inside the hull of a ship.
9) 
In Dana Rattle down, Rattle up
10) “to beat the band” = very briskly; very fast; or “to beat all” in the sense of “doing your best” but also excelling with other clippers, especially with regard to navigation times (see here)
11) Written incorrectly as “reef and reif”: To “reef” sail is to furl and lash it to the “topsl yard” or any other yard. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would “mount” and sometimes “pass” another shipmate to do the job.
12)  Mudcat “Mount and Pass meaning to go out on the yard (the rope is called a stirrup hence the “mount”) and pass canvas as its reefed up”
13) “The Hook” is a reference to Sandy Hook in the Long Island sound

O you western ocean labourers

The second version shares a text similar to the first one, with different melody, but resumes part of the transportation song Van Diemen’s Land (British broadside ballad [Laws K25] for variant see here, here)

Siobhan Miller from Strata 2017 (I, II, IV, V)

Teyn from Far From The Tree 2016 they follow the traditional text spread in Cornwall, with an instrumental arrangement all of their own. Reported by John Farr’s testimony of Gwithian on the north coast of Cornwall, in Canow Kernow (Cornwall songs full text here)

I
O you western ocean labourers
I’ll have you all beware (1),
when you’re working on a packet ship no dungaree oil skin (2) wear.
But have a big monkey jacket
already at your command
and I’ll bid  farewell to the Virgin rocks (3)/
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Chorus:
We’ll rub (scrape) her and scrub her
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll bid farewell to the virgin rocks On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
As I lay on my bunk one night
a’dreaming all alone.
I dreamt I was in Liverpool
‘way up by Marylebone (4),
With my true love there beside me
and a jug of ale in my hand,
But I woke quite brokenhearted, boys on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III (5)
We had one Lynch from Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy and Mike Moore;
It was in the winter of sixty-two,
Those sea-boys suffered sore,
For they’d pawned their clothes in Liverpool,
And sold them out of hand (6),
Not thinking of the cold Northwesters
On the Banks of Newfoundland
IV (7)
We had one female passenger,
Bridget Riley was her name,
she was fourteen years transported boy for playing not the game (8)
But she tore up her flannel petticoats To make mittens for our hands,
For she couldn’t see the poor boys freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off Sandy Hook, my boys,
And the land’s all covered with snow,.
The tug-boat take up our hawser
And for New York we will tow;
And when we get to the Black Ball dock,
All the boys and girls there will stand, for if we are here we cannot be there on the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
1) or “Ye rambling boys of Erin, ye rambling boys, beware” (see)
2) dungaree jumpers
3) or “For there blows some cold Northwesters”.Virgin Rocks are a series of rocky ridges just below the surface of the ocean on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
4) Marylebone – an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St Marylebone (or, archaically, Mary-le-bone). Marylebone is roughly bounded by Oxford Street to the south, Marylebone Road to the north, Edgware Road to the west and Great Portland Street to the east. A broader definition designates the historic area as Marylebone Village and encompasses neighbouring Regent’s Park, Baker Street and the area immediately north of Marylebone Road, containing Marylebone Station, the original site of the Marylebone Cricket Club at Dorset Square, and the neighbourhood known as Lisson Grove as far as the border with St John’s Wood. The area east of Great Portland Street up to Cleveland Street, known as Fitzrovia since the 1940s, is considered historically to be East Marylebone. (tratto da qui)
5) the Teyn line:
We had Jack Lynch from Ballinahinch
Mike Murphy and some more
And I’ll tell you boys they suffered like hell
On the way to Baltimore
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
And sailed as they did stand
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
Not thinking of Newfoundland
6)  “They pawned their clothes in Liverpool and sold their notes of hand”
7) the Teyn line:
Well we had one female passenger
Bridget Reilly was her name
Unto her I had promised marriage
And on me she had claim
For she tore up all her petticoats
To make mittens for my hands
Saying I can’t see my true love freeze
On the Banks of the Newfoundland,
8)  “Play the Game” it means taking risks, not following the rules; probably refers to poaching, among the reasons for deportation to the penal colonies of Australia

Stan Hugill version: capstan shanty

Again thanks to the meticulous work of Hulton Clint (or Ranzo, nicknamed the YouTube chanteyman, from Hartford, Connecticut) that gives us back the sea shanty version as reported by Stan Hugill, an obvious parody of the sea shanty Van Diemen’s Land. In  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” Hugill writes: “Still in the realms of convict ships and transportation, we have next the old forebitter often used as a capstan song, The Banks of Newf’n’land. Its convict connection is the fact that it was really a parody of an older forebitter, itself originally a shore ballad called Van Diemen’s Land, a song often sung in Liverpool and as a forebitter often heard in Liverpool ships. A note attached to the record The Singing Sailor states that “Versions can still be heard in Scotland and Ireland, but it is in Liverpool and Salford (Lancs.) that the song lives most vigorously”. It tells of the sufferings of poachers transported to Van Diemen’s Land.”

I
Ye ramblin’ boys o’ Liverpool,
ye sailor men beware,
When you go in a Yankee packet ship, no dungaree jumpers wear;
But have a monkey jacket
all up to your command,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Coro
We’ll wash her and we’ll scrub her down
With holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks
And the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had one Lynch from Ballynahinch, Spud Murphy and Mike Moore,
‘Twas in the winter of seventy-three those sea-boys suffered sore;
They popped their clothes in Liverpool, sold them all out of hand,
Not thinkin’ on the cold nor’winds,
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
We had a lady fair aboard,
Kate Connor was her name,
To her I promised marriage, and on me she had a claim;
She tore up her flannel petticoats to make mittens for my hands,
For she could not see her true love freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
I dreamed a dream the other night,
and I thought I was at home,
Alongside of my own true love,
and she in Marybone (1);
A jug of ale all on my knee, a glass of ale in hand,
But when I woke, my heart was broke
On the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
1) Liverpool’s popular district

DANCE TUNE

Come all me lads and fair young maids

Another melody for the version without refrain that shows the process of transformation through the oral tradition of a text that changes as time passes and situations. Sometimes considered as a song distinct from the previous ones referring to work on fishing vessels.
Pete Shepheard from They Smiled As We Cam In, 2018 
who noted : This is one of my favourite songs and I seem never to have tired of it since I first recorded it from St Andrews fisherman Tom Gordon in 1964. He learned it in turn from a man who had sailed on the whaler fleet out of Leith in the early 1900s. This is the only version I have come across that is modernised into the steam boat era – and incidentally dated in the text to 1906.

Matthew Byrne live, instrumental arrangement by Matthew Byrne & Billy Sutton

I
Come all me lads and fair young maids, come all ye sports beware,
when you go steamboat sailing,
no dungaree jackets wear;
And always wear a life belt,
or keep it close at hand,
there blows a cold nor-westerly wind on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had on board some passengers
the Swedies and some more
’Twas in the year of nineteen-six that we did suffer sore,
We pawned our clothes in Liverpool, we pawned them every hand,
not thinking of the nor-westerly winds on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
And we had on board a fair young maid, Bridget Wellford was her name,
To her I promised marriage
and a pawn she had a claim ;
She tore her flannel petticoats
to make mittens for my hands,
she would not see her true love perish on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Last night as I lay in my bunch I dream a pleasent dream,
that I was back in Scotland beside a flowing stream;
with the girl I love on my knee and a bottle in my hand,
I woke up broken hearted
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
Now we’re bound for Sandy Bay
where the high hills covered in snow,
Our steam boat she’s so hell-of-a fast, by New York we will go;
We’ll scrub her up and we’ll scrub her down with holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks and the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
*text taken partly from the version of Pete Shepheard  here

transportation song
working on a  fisher ship
the Eastern Light
captain’s death (american ballad)
shipwreck and rescue on the Banks (Canadian ballad)

 

LINK
https://www.irishtune.info/tune/118/
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-banks-of-newfoundland-emc/
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/bnk_newfoundland.htm
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/banksofnewfoundland.html
https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Paul-McKenna-Band/The-Banks-of-Newfoundland

http://gestsongs.com/01/banks1.htm
http://gestsongs.com/01/banks3.htm
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks5.htm
https://www.springthyme.co.uk/1042/42_09.htm

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44529
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17059
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=130147

 

On the Banks of Newfoundland

Read the post in English

Ci sono parecchie  sea songs dal titolo “the Banks of Newfoundland”,  da non considerarsi propriamente come variazioni su una stessa melodia, anche se condividono un tema comune, i pericoli della pesca o della navigazione al largo di Terranova.

Come primo approccio ho classificato i titoli in base al primo verso e raggruppato un primo blocco.

  • Me bully boys of Liverpool
  • O you western ocean labourers
  • Come all me lads and fair young maids

Me bully boys o’ Liverpool

Probabilmente la versione più conosciuta di “the Banks of Newfoundland”, in cui si descrivono i pericoli della navigazione invernale nell’Atlantico del Nord.
L’incipit è quello di una warning song diretta ai “bravi ragazzi” di Liverpool (o di Belfast secondo la versione degli Irish Rovers), sono per lo più lavoratori irlandesi di metà Ottocento che si lasciano attrarre dal breve tempo d’ingaggio su una nave di linea nella tratta atlantica senza rendersi conto delle dure condizioni di lavoro (vedasi per l’approfondimento Black Ball Line)
La ballata ebbe forse inizio in Irlanda come broadside, ma diventò popolare come forebitter song (o capstan shanty) sulle packet ships nella tratta Liverpool-New York, che passava accanto alle coste dell’isola di Terranova, collezionata infine nei repertori folk di Terranova e Nuova Scozia.

Clipper della Black Ball Line con il forte vento: le vele più grandi sono state terzarolate, e le vele più alte chiuse

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd in Blow Boys Blow, 1957
Lloyd scrive “In inverno, la rotta verso ovest da Liverpool a New York era un viaggio difficile per le navi di linea, con navi pesanti, venti contrari, nevischio e neve. Gli equipaggi di grandi dimensioni erano impegnati a fare serrare le vele quando il vento aumentavano o a distendere tela ogni volta che il vento diminuiva. Le rive di Terranova danno l’immagine di una dura traversata dell’Oceano Occidentale prima dei giorni di vapore.” (tratto da qui)

Great Big Sea (strofe da I a III, V, testo qui) stessa melodia ma andamento da marcia


I
Me bully boys o’ Liverpool,
I’ll have you to beware,
When ye sail in the packet ship (1),
no dungaree jumpers wear (2);
But have a big monkey jacket (3)
all ready to your hand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers (4)/on the Banks of Newfoundland!
Chorus
We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
With holystone and sand (5),
And we think of them cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
There was Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more (6),
I tell ye where, they suffered like hell
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned (7) their gear in Liverpool
and they sailed as they did stand,
there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
The mate he stood on the fo’c’sle (8) head, and loudly he did roar:
“Now rattle (9) her in, my lucky lads!
We’re bound for America’s shore!
Go wash the mud off that dead-man’s face
and heave to beat the band (10),
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland!”
IV
So now it’s reef and reef (11), me boys,
with the canvas frozen hard,
And it’s mount and pass (12) every mother’s son
on a ninety-foot tops’l yard.
Never mind about boots and oilskins,
but haul or you’ll be damned!
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off the Hook (12), me boys,
and the lands are white with snow,
But soon we’ll see the pay table
and have all night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
Saying, “It’s snugger with me
than it is at sea on the Banks of Newfoundland.”
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Miei bravacci di Liverpool
vi devo avvertire
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale di linea, non indossate una giacchetta di jeans ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
perchè là soffiano dei freddi  venti da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e penseremo a quei venti freddi di maestrale sui Banchi di Terranova
II
C’erano Jack Lynch
di Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy e altri ancora;
ti dico come patirono le pene d’inferno
sulla rotta per Baltimora;
avevano preso in pegno la loro attrezzatura a Liverpool
e si misero in mare proprio quando
soffiano i venti freddi di maestrale
sui Banchi di Terranova
III
L’ufficiale stava in cima al castello di prua e forte tuonava
“Ora salite, ragazzi fortunati!
siamo diretti verso la terra d’America!
Andate a lavare via il fango da quella faccia da morto
e manovrate al meglio
perchè là soffiano dei venti freddi da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova

IV
Quindi ora si riducono le vele, ragazzi, con la tela ghiacciata indurita
è un piegare e passare a ogni figlio di buona madre, sul pennone di gabbia a novanta piedi.
Non preoccupatevi di stivali e cerate,
ma issate o sarete dannati!
perchè là soffiano dei venti freddi da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova
V
E ora siamo al largo di Sandy Hook, ragazzi miei,
e le terre sono bianche come neve,
Ma presto vedremo la tabella dei pagamenti e passeremo tutta la notte a terra; e sul molo, arriveranno a stormi,
quelle  belle ragazzine,
a dire: “È meglio accoccolarsi con me
che essere in mare
sui Banchi di Terranova “

NOTE
1) “Packet ships” postali perchè navi utilizzate per trasportare la posta tra Gran Bretagna e America
2) dungaree (dungeon ) jumper, jacket= denim jacket
3) letteralmente “giacca da scimmia” per la sua somiglianza con la giacca corta delle scimmie ammaestrate, era una giacca di lana corta e aderente con doppio petto e bottoni in peltro prediletta dai marinai; troviamo il termine in Melville “no more monkey jackets and tarpaulins for me“. Eppure anche la più robusta giacca di lana non era esente da diventare bagnata fradicia sotto una tempesta. Per questi impermeabilizzavano vestiti, scarpe e capelli con sostanze resinose
4) il vento che soffia da NW spinge in direzione Sud-Est, nella rosa dei venti è detto maestrale
5) i lavori di manutenzione dello scafo sono eseguiti nel bacino di carenaggio, dove la nave viene portata a secco , non disponendo di un apposito bacino portuale la nave era tirata a riva durante l’alta marea e fatta adagiare su un fianco: all’operazione di raschiatura dell’opera viva si accompagnava il calatafaggio, l’operazione consisteva nel cacciare a forza stoppa e pece nelle fessure tra le tavole di legname per rendere stagno lo scafo.
6) gli equipaggi delle packet ships che facevano la spola tra Liverpool-New York erano per la maggior parte irlandesi
7) come ci insegna Italo Ottonello ” All’atto della firma del contratto d’arruolamento per i viaggi di lungo corso, i marinai ricevevano un anticipo pari a tre mesi di paga che, a garanzia del rispetto del contratto, era erogato in forma di pagherò, esigibile tre giorni dopo che la nave aveva lasciato il porto, “sempre che detto marinaio sia salpato con detta nave”. Tutti, invariabilmente, correvano a cercare qualche ‘squalo’ compiacente che comprasse il loro pagherò ad un valore scontato, di solito del quaranta per cento, con molta parte dell’importo fornito in natura. Gli acquirenti, procuratori d’imbarco e procacciatori vari, – gli ‘arruolatori’, com’erano soprannominati – erano indotti a ‘sequestrare’ i marinai e portarli a bordo, ubriachi o drogati, con poco o niente vestiario oltre quello che avevano indosso, e sperperare o rubare loro tutto l’anticipo.
8) “Fo’c’sle” è una contrazione di “fore castle” (fore = foreward)
9) 
In Dana scendere  verso il basso. Rattle down. A salire. Rattle up
10) “to beat the band” è un’espressione americana che trae origine dall’iberno-inglese = very briskly; very fast; potrebbe anche significare “to beat all” nel senso di “fare del proprio meglio” ma anche di eccellere rispetto agli altri clipper delle altre compagnie, soprattutto in merito ai tempi di navigazione (sull’origine del termine qui)
11)  scritto erroneamente come “reef and reif”
12) trovato su Mudcat “Mount and Pass meaning to go out on the yard (the rope is called a stirrup hence the “mount”) and pass canvas as its reefed up”
13) “The Hook”= Sandy Hook 

O you western ocean labourers

La seconda versione condivide un testo simile alla prima, con una diversa melodia, ma riprende parte del testo della transportation song Van Diemen’s Land (British broadside ballad [Laws K25] per le varianti vedi qui, qui)

Siobhan Miller in Strata 2017 (I, II, IV, V)

Teyn in Far From The Tree 2016 ♪ seguono il testo tradizionale  diffuso in Cornovaglia, con un arrangiamento strumentale tutto loro. Riportato dalla testimonianza di John Farr di Gwithian sulla costa nord della Cornovaglia, in Canow Kernow (in italiano Canti della Cornovaglia (testo completo qui)


I
O you western ocean labourers
I’ll have you all beware (1),
when you’re working on a packet ship no dungaree oil skin (2) wear.
But have a big monkey jacket
already at your command
and I’ll bid  farewell to the Virgin rocks (3)/
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Chorus:
We’ll rub (scrape) her and scrub her
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll bid farewell to the virgin rocks On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
As I lay on my bunk one night
a’dreaming all alone.
I dreamt I was in Liverpool
‘way up by Marylebone (4),
With my true love there beside me
and a jug of ale in my hand,
But I woke quite brokenhearted, boys on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III (5)
We had one Lynch from Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy and Mike Moore;
It was in the winter of sixty-two,
Those sea-boys suffered sore,
For they’d pawned their clothes in Liverpool,
And sold them out of hand (6),
Not thinking of the cold Northwesters
On the Banks of Newfoundland
IV (7)
We had one female passenger,
Bridget Riley was her name,
she was fourteen years transported boy for playing not the game (8)
But she tore up her flannel petticoats To make mittens for our hands,
For she couldn’t see the poor boys freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off Sandy Hook, my boys,
And the land’s all covered with snow,.
The tug-boat take up our hawser
And for New York we will tow;
And when we get to the Black Ball dock,
All the boys and girls there will stand, for if we are here we cannot be there on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
O voi lavoratori transatlantici
vi devo avvertire
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale di linea, niente giacca cerata
ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
e dirò addio alle Virgin Rocks sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks
sui Banchi di Terranova

II
Una notte che stavo nella mia cuccetta
dormivo tutto solo.
Ho sognato di essere a Liverpool
laggiù a Marylebone,
con il mio vero amore accanto a me
e una brocca di birra in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto, ragazzi sui Banchi di Terranova.
III
C’era un Lynch da Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy e Mike Moore;
era nell’inverno del sessantadue,
quei marinai soffrirono assai,
perché avevano impegnato i loro vestiti a Liverpool,
e li hanno venduti senza discussioni,
senza pensare al freddo maestrale
sui Banchi di Terranova
IV
Abbiamo avuto un passeggero femmina, si chiamava Bridget Riley
aveva un ragazzo di quattordici anni mandato alle colonie penali per non aver seguito le regole, ma lei stracciò le sue sottane di flanella per fare guanti per le nostre mani, perché non riusciva  vedere i ragazzi poveri congelarsi
sui Banchi di Terranova.
V
E ora siamo al largo di Sandy Hook,
ragazzi,
e la terra è tutta coperta di neve,
il rimorchiatore prese la nostra gomena e ci trascinò a New York;
e quando arriveremo al molo della Black Ball,
sarà pieno di ragazzi e  ragazze, perché se siamo qui non possiamo essere là
sui Banchi di Terranova

NOTE
1) il verso d’inizio è anche “Ye rambling boys of Erin, ye rambling boys, beware” (vedi testo)
2) dungaree jumpers
3) oppure”For there blows some cold Northwesters”. Le Virgin Rocks sono una serie di creste rocciose appena sotto la superficie dell’oceano sui Grandi Banchi di Terranova
4) Marylebone – una ricca area del centro di Londra, situata all’interno della città di Westminster. A volte è scritto come St Marylebone (o, arcaicamente, Mary-le-bone). Marylebone è approssimativamente delimitata da Oxford Street a sud, Marylebone Road a nord, Edgware Road a ovest e Great Portland Street a est. Una definizione più ampia indica l’area storica come Marylebone Village e comprende il vicino Regent’s Park, Baker Street e l’area immediatamente a nord di Marylebone Road, che contiene Marylebone Station, il sito originario del Marylebone Cricket Club a Dorset Square e il quartiere noto come Lisson Grove fino al confine con St John’s Wood. L’area ad est di Great Portland Street fino a Cleveland Street, conosciuta come Fitzrovia dagli anni ’40, è considerata storicamente East Marylebone. (tratto da qui)
5) I Teyn dicono:
We had Jack Lynch from Ballinahinch
Mike Murphy and some more
And I’ll tell you boys they suffered like hell
On the way to Baltimore
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
And sailed as they did stand
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
Not thinking of Newfoundland
6) la frase in origine doveva essere  “They pawned their clothes in Liverpool and sold their notes of hand” (impegnarono il loro anticipo e vendettero i loro pagherò)
7) una diversa versione dei Teyn
Well we had one female passenger
Bridget Reilly was her name
Unto her I had promised marriage
And on me she had claim
For she tore up all her petticoats
To make mittens for my hands
Saying I can’t see my true love freeze
On the Banks of the Newfoundland,
8)  “Play the Game” vuol dire prendersi dei rischi, non seguire le regole; si riferisce probabilmente alla caccia di frodo, tra i motivi di deportazione nelle colonie penali d’Australia

La versione di Stan Hugill: capstan shanty

Ancora grazie al meticoloso lavoro di Hulton Clint (o Ranzo soprannominato  lo YouTube chanteyman, da Hartford, Connecticut) che ci restituisce la versione sea shanty così come riportata da Stan Hugill, una evidente parodia della sea shanty Van Diemen’s Land come pubblicato nel suo “Shanties from the Seven Seas” che così scrive in merito: “Ancora nei regni delle navi e dei trasporti forzati, abbiamo la prossima  vecchia  forebitter usata spesso come capstan song, The Banks of Newf’n’land. Il suo riferimento al trasporto forzoso è il fatto di essere una parodia di una vecchia  forebitter, originariamente una ballad  dal titolo Van Diemen’s Land, una canzone spesso cantata a Liverpool e come forebitter spesso ascoltata nelle navi di Liverpool. Una nota allegata al disco The Singing Sailor afferma che “Le versioni possono ancora essere ascoltate in Scozia e in Irlanda, ma è a Liverpool e Salford (Lancs.) che la canzone è più radicata”. Racconta delle sofferenze dei bracconieri trasportati nella terra di Van Diemen.


I
Ye ramblin’ boys o’ Liverpool,
ye sailor men beware,
When you go in a Yankee packet ship, no dungaree jumpers wear;
But have a monkey jacket
all up to your command,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Coro
We’ll wash her and we’ll scrub her down
With holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks (1)
And the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had one Lynch from Ballynahinch, Spud Murphy and Mike Moore,
‘Twas in the winter of seventy-three those sea-boys suffered sore;
They popped their clothes in Liverpool, sold them all out of hand,
Not thinkin’ on the cold nor’winds,
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
We had a lady fair aboard,
Kate Connor was her name,
To her I promised marriage, and on me she had a claim;
She tore up her flannel petticoats to make mittens for my hands,
For she could not see her true love freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
I dreamed a dream the other night,
and I thought I was at home,
Alongside of my own true love,
and she in Marybone (2);
A jug of ale all on my knee, a glass of ale in hand,
But when I woke, my heart was broke
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Ragazzacci di Liverpool,
voi marinai attenti
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale americano, niente giacca di pelle, ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
perchè là soffiano i venti freddi di Nord-Ovest sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La laveremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks
e ai Banchi di Terranova

II
C’era un Lynch da Ballinahinch,
“Spud” Murphy e Mike Moore;
era nell’inverno del settantatre,
quei marinai soffrirono assai,
perché avevano impegnato i loro vestiti a Liverpool, e li vendettero senza discussioni, senza pensare al freddo vento del Nord
sui Banchi di Terranova
III
Abbiamo avuto una bella signora a bordo, si chiamava Kate Connor
le promisi di sposarla e su di me aveva credito,  lei stracciò le sue sottane di flanella per farne manopole per le mie mani, perché non sopportava di  vedere congelarsi il suo vero amore
sui Banchi di Terranova
IV
Ho sognato l’altra notte
e credevo di essere a casa
accanto al mio vero amore
di Marybone,
una brocca di birra alle ginocchia e in  in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto,
sui Banchi di Terranova.

NOTE
1)   i Grandi Banchi di Terranova sono un tratto di mare dal fondale basso a sud-est dell’isola canadese di Terranova, di forma grosso modo triangolare spesso sconvolto dalle tempeste, infido e pericoloso per la presenza di iceberg e la frequente nebbie. Le Virgin Rocks sono una serie di creste rocciose appena sotto la superficie dell’oceano, un’ottima  base di pesca per le golette dell’Ottocento
2) le golette da pesca uscivano in mare a maggio e non rientravano sino a settembre
2) quartiere popolare di Liverpool

LA MELODIA DA DANZA

Come all me lads and fair young maids

Altra melodia per la versione senza ritornello che mostra il processo di trasformazione attraverso la tradizione orale di un testo che muta al passare del tempo e delle situazioni. A volta considerata come un canto distinto dai precedenti riferito al lavoro sui pescherecci.
Pete Shepheard in They Smiled As We Cam In, 2018 
che scrive nelle note : Questa è una delle mie canzoni preferite e non mi ha mai stancato da quando l’ho registrata per la prima volta dal pescatore di St. Andrews Tom Gordon nel 1964. L’ha imparato a sua volta da un uomo che aveva navigato sulla flotta baleniera da Leith nel primi anni del 1900. Questa è l’unica versione che ho incontrato e che è stata modernizzata nell’era delle barche a vapore – e incidentalmente datata nel testo al 1906.

Matthew Byrne live, arrangiamento strumentale Matthew Byrne & Billy Sutton


I
Come all me lads and fair young maids, come all ye sports beware,
when you go steamboat sailing,
no dungaree jackets wear;
And always wear a life belt,
or keep it close at hand,
there blows a cold nor-westerly wind on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had on board some passengers
the Swedies and some more
’Twas in the year of nineteen-six that we did suffer sore,
We pawned our clothes in Liverpool, we pawned them every hand,
not thinking of the nor-westerly winds on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
And we had on board a fair young maid, Bridget Wellford was her name,
To her I promised marriage
and a pawn she had a claim ;
She tore her flannel petticoats
to make mittens for my hands,
she would not see her true love perish on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Last night as I lay in my bunch I dream a pleasent dream,
that I was back in Scotland beside a flowing stream;
with the girl I love on my knee and a bottle in my hand,
I woke up broken hearted
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
Now we’re bound for Sandy Bay
where the high hills covered in snow,
Our steam boat she’s so hell-of-a fast, by New York we will go;
We’ll scrub her up and we’ll scrub her down with holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks and the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Venite tutti, ragazzi e ragazze giovani e gentili,  fare attenzione ai vostri passatempi, quando vi imbarcate su di un battello a vapore,  non indossate una giacchetta di jeans ma indossate sempre una cintura di salvataggio o tenetela a portata di mano dove soffiano i freddi venti di nord-ovest,
sui Banchi di Terranova!
II
Avevamo a bordo dei passeggeri, svedesi e molti altri
era il 1906 che ci fece tribolare tanto,
abbiamo dato in pegno i nostri vestiti a Liverpool con leggerezza,
senza pensare ai venti di nord-ovest
sui Banchi di Terranova!
III
E avevamo a bordo una bella giovane, si chiamava Bridget Wellford
le promisi di sposarla
e un pegno pretendeva;
si strappò le sottane di flanella
per fare guanti per le mie mani,
non avrebbe visto il suo vero amore perire sui Banchi di Terranova.
IV
Una notte che stavo nella mia cuccetta
feci un bel sogno
che ero in Scozia accanto a un ruscelletto
con  la mia ragazza sulle ginocchia e una bottiglia in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto,
sui Banchi di Terranova
V
E ora che siamo diretti a Sandy Bay, dove le alte colline sono ricoperte di neve, il nostro battello a vapore corre spedito e andremo a New York.
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks sui Banchi di Terranova

NOTE
* testo tratto in parte dalla versione di Pete Shepheard  qui

transportation song
la pesca sui Banchi
the Eastern Light
morte del capitano (ballata americana)
naufragio e soccorso sui Banchi (ballata canadese)

 

FONTI
https://www.irishtune.info/tune/118/
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-banks-of-newfoundland-emc/
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/bnk_newfoundland.htm
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/banksofnewfoundland.html
https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Paul-McKenna-Band/The-Banks-of-Newfoundland

http://gestsongs.com/01/banks1.htm
http://gestsongs.com/01/banks3.htm
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks5.htm
https://www.springthyme.co.uk/1042/42_09.htm

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44529
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17059
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=130147

The Saucy Sailor Boy

Leggi in italiano

The nineteenth-century image of sailor is rather stereotypical: Jack Tar is a drunkard and a womanizer, perhaps a slacker and troublemaker, always ready to fight.
In sea songs from the female point of view sailor is often an unfaithful liar who has a girlfriend in every port even if he has a wife and children at home. Ridiculed and rejected by some, he is instead sought by others who absolutely prefer the love of a sailor (Sailor laddie)!
Sailor is watched more often with distrust by women, as in the sea song entitled “The Saucy Sailor Boy” where a young “saucy” sailor courts a country girl: it’s a “love contrast” that fits in a long popular tradition of bucolic argument, in which a man and a woman duet with amorous skirmishes; generally woman refuses man’s proposals, to preserve her virtue or to better stimulate his desire; man, on the other hand, promises seas and mountains, as well as eternal love, riches and the certainty of a comfortable life, just to conquer the woman’s graces.
In Saucy Sailor, however, she rejects the sailor with ill grace, because his clothes still smell of tar; the music changes when sailor shows his money but it’s too late and sailor doesn’ t want  to marry her anymore!

SAILOR’S CLOTHES

Clothes of Poor Jack, a British sailor of the late eighteenth century, are anything but poor: he is wearing a popular variant of the knee-length trousers, a sort of very wide trouser skirt. He wears a black tall round hat, and his long hair is loose on his neck, a white shirt with a stiff collar and a red neckcloth; characteristic yellow double-breasted waistcoat with narrow vertical red stripes, and an elegant blue short jacket with a long row of white buttons; light blue socks and black shoes with a beautiful metal buckles.

Poor Jack, Charles Dibdin, 1790-1791, British Museum: he wears slops, wide knee-length pants. The hair worn long until the mid-nineteenth century were kept in order, stopping them behind the back of the neck in a tarred tail, hence the nickname Jack Tar

But sailors like all the workers and men of the people also wore long trousers which became a standard of men’s clothing after the French revolution.

THE SAUCY SAILOR BOY

Text is found in many nineteenth-century collections and broadside especially in Great Britain and America, and probably it has eighteenth-century origins (William Alexander Barret in his “English Folksong” published in 1891 believes that this song appeared in print in 1781 and he cites its great popularity among girls who work in Eastern London factories.
The Tarry Sailor from trad archives (Andrew Robbie of Strichen, Aberdeenshire)  
Quadriga consort: early-music version
Harbottle & Jonas (from Cornwall): a swing version

Steeleye Span from Below the Salt, 1972 ( I, and from III to VIII): standard version in the repertoires of singers and folk groups

Wailin Jennys 

SAUCY SAILOR BOY
I
“Come, my dearest, come, my fairest,
Come and tell unto me,
Will you pity (fancy) a poor sailor boy,
Who has just come from sea?”
II
“I can fancy no poor sailor:
No poor sailor for me!
For to cross the wide ocean
Is a terror to me.
III
You are ragged, love, you are dirty, love,/And your clothes they smell of tar./So begone, you saucy sailor boy,
So begone, you Jack Tar(1)!”
IV
“If I’m ragged, love, if I’m dirty, love,
If my clothes they smell (much) of tar,
I have silver in my pocket, love,
And of gold a bright (great) store.”
V (2)
When she heard those words come from him, On her bended knees she fell./”To be sure, I’ll wed my sailor,
For I love him so well.”
VI
“Do you think that I am foolish?
Do you think that I am mad?
That I’d wed with a poor country girl
Where no fortune’s to be had?
VII
I will cross the briny ocean/Where the meadows they are green (3);
Since you have had the offer, love,
Another shall have the ring.
VIII
For I’m young, love, and I’m frolicksome, (4)
I’m good-temper’d, kind and free.
And I don’t care a straw (5), love,
What the world says (thinks)of me.

NOTES
1) Jack Tar is a common English term originally used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy, particularly during the period of the British Empire. Seamen were known to ‘tar’ their clothes before departing on voyages, in order to make them waterproof, in the eighteenth century they were usually used to tar their long hair in a ponytail to prevent it from getting wet or that the wind ruffled it
2)  Steeleye Span :
And then when she heard him say so
On her bended knees she fell,
“I will marry my dear Henry
For I love a sailor lad so well.”
3) Steeleye Span: I will whistle and sing
4) Steeleye Span :
Oh, I am frolicsome and I am easy,
Good tempered and free,
5) or “I don’t give a single pin”

SEA SHANTY VERSION: The Tarry Sailor

Stan Hugill in his Shantyman Bible (Shanties from the Seven Seas) tells us that The Tarry Sailor (Saucy Sailor Boy) in addition to being a forebitter song was occasionally sung during the boring hours of pumping water from the bilge when the pumps were operated by hand!  (see sea shanty)

Hulton Clint 

THE TARRY SAILOR
I
Come on my fair ones,
Come on my fan ones,
Come and listen unto me.
Could you fancy a boldly sailor lad
That has just come home from sea?
Could you fancy a boldly sailor lad
That has just come home from sea?
II
No, indeed, I’ll wed no sailor
For they smell too much of tar!
You are ruggy, you are sassy,
get you gone Jackie Tar.
III
I have ship on all the ocean,
I have golden great galore
All my clothes they may be all in rags,
but coin can buy me more
IV
If I am ruggy, if I am sassy
And may by a tarry smell
I had silver in my pockets
For they knew can every tell
V
When she heard him that distressed
down upon her knees she fell
Saying “Ruggy dirty saylor boy
I love more than you can tell”
VI
Do you think that I’m foolish,
Do you think that I’m mad?
That I’d wed the likes of you, Miss,
When there’s others to be had!”
VII
No indeed I’ll cross the ocean,
And my ships shall spread her wings,
You refused me, ragged, dirty,
Not for you the wedding ring.

Scottish sailors were excellent dancers and part of their training consisted of practicing Sailor’s Hornpipe


second part

LINK
https://www.britishtars.com/2014/01/poor-jack-1790-91.html
https://www.mun.ca/mha/mlc/articles/introducing-merchant-seafaring/jack-tar.php
http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/saucysailor.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=133473
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=16440

Dan Dan, sea shanty

Dan Dan è un sea shanty riportato da Stan Hugill che dice di averlo appreso dall’amico marinaio Barbados Harding, un canto utilizzato come hauling shanty o per lo scarico delle merci, diffuso nelle isole caraibiche e più in generale nelle Indie Occidentali.
Dalle ricerche di Hulton Clint apprendiamo che lo chanty “Dan Dan Oh” riportato da Roger D. Abrahams nel suo “Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore” (1974) ha un testo correlato. Il canto era tipico dei balenieri quando trascinavano la carcassa della balena sulla spiaggia.

ASCOLTA David Thomas in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006.

ASCOLTA Hulton Clint sulla versione di Stan Hugill

ASCOLTA Hulton Clint sulla versione di Roger D. Abrahams


My name, it is Dan Dan
My name, it is Dan Dan
Somebody stole my rum
He didn’t leave me none
That no good son of a gun
My name, it is Dan Dan
A sailor man I am
Somebody took my wife
Somebody took my knife
My name, it is Dan Dan
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Il mio nome è Dan Dan
Il mio nome è Dan Dan
qualcuno mi ha fregato il rum
e non mi ha lasciato niente
quel figlio di buona donna!
Il mio nome è Dan Dan
e sono un marinaio
qualcuno mi ha preso la moglie
qualcuno mi ha preso il coltello
Il mio nome è Dan Dan

Little Boy Billy

Read the post in English

Una canzone del mare umoristica (del tipo caustico)  intitolata anche “Three Sailors from Bristol City” o “Little Boy Billee”, che tratta un argomento inquietante per la nostra civiltà, ma sempre dietro l’angolo: il cannibalismo!
Il mare è un luogo d’insidie e di scherzi del fato, una tempesta ti può portare fuori rotta, su una barcaccia di fortuna o una zattera, senza cibo e acqua, un tema trattato anche nella grande pittura ( Theodore Gericault, La zattera della Medusa vedi): la vita umana in bilico tra speranza e disperazione.

The three sailors

Nelle canzoni marinaresche si finisce per esprimere le paure più grandi con una bella risata! Il brano nasce nel 1863 con il titolo “The three sailors” scritto da William Makepeace Thackeray come parodia di una canzone marinaresca francese dal titolo “La Courte Paille” (=la paglia corta)– diventata in seguito “Le Petit Navire” (The Little Corvette) e finita nelle canzoncine per bambini. (vedi prima parte): i casi di cannibalismo in mare come estrema risorsa per la sopravvivenza erano molto dibattiti dall’opinione pubblica e gli stessi tribunali erano inclini a commutare le sentenze di morte in detenzione.
L’omicidio per necessità (o il sacrificio di uno per il bene degli altri) trova una giustificazione nella terribile esperienza della morte per fame che spinge la mente umana alla disperazione e alla pazzia, ma nel 1884 il caso del naufragio del Mignonette  spaccò l’opinione pubblica e lo stesso ministro dell’interno dell’epoca Sir William Harcourt, ebbe a dire “se questi uomini non vengono condannati per l’omicidio, stiamo dando carta bianca al capitano di qualsiasi nave di mangiare il mozzo ogni volta che scarseggiano i viveri”. (tratto da qui).
La sentenza si pone come caso leader e mette la vita come bene supremo non ammettendo l’omicidio per necessità come autodifesa

Little Billee
Bernard Partridge Cartoons

Dalle note del “Penguin Book” (1959):
La ballata portoghese A Nau Caterineta e la ballata francese La Courte Paille raccontano la stessa storia. La nave è stata a lungo in mare e il cibo e vinito. Le pagliuzze sono pescate per vedere chi deve essere mangiato, e il capitano rimane con la cannuccia più corta. Il mozzo si offre per essere sacrificato al suo posto, ma chiede di poter restare di vedetta fino al giorno successivo. In breve tempo vede la terra (“Je vois la tour de Babylone, Barbarie de l’autre côté”) e gli uomini vengono salvati. Thackeray ha parodiato questa canzone nel suo Little Billee. È probabile che la ballata francese abbia dato origine a The Ship in Distress, apparsa nei fogli volanti dell’Ottocento. George Butterworth si è procurato quattro versioni nel Sussex (FSJ vol.IV [numero 17] pp.320-2) e Sharp ne ha stampato una da James Bishop di Priddy, Somerset (Folk Songs from Somerset, vol.III, p.64) con “per molti versi una melodia più grandiosa “che aveva trovato in quella contea. Il testo proviene in parte dalla versione di Bishop, e in parte da un foglio volante.”  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

Ralph Steadman in “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006″.


There were three men of Bristol City;
They stole a ship and went to sea.
There was Gorging Jack and Guzzling Jimmy
And also Little Boy Billee.
They stole a tin of captain’s biscuits
And one large bottle of whiskee.
But when they reached the broad Atlantic
They had nothing left but one split pea.
Said Gorging Jack to Guzzling Jimmy,
“We’ve nothing to eat so I’m going to eat thee.”
Said Guzzling Jimmy, “I’m old and toughest,
So let’s eat Little Boy Billee.”
“O Little Boy Billy, we’re going to kill and eat you,
So undo the top button of your little chemie.(1)”
“O may I say my catechism
That my dear mother taught to me?”
He climbed up to the main topgallant(2)
And there he fell upon his knee.
But when he reached the Eleventh(3) Commandment,
He cried “Yo Ho! for land I see.”
“I see Jerusalem and Madagascaar
And North and South Amerikee.”
“I see the British fleet at anchor
And Admiral Nelson, K.C.B. (4)”
They hung Gorging Jack and Guzzling Jimmy
But they made an admiral of Little Boy Billee.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
C’erano tre uomini di Bristol
che rubarono una nave ed andarono per mare.
C’erano Jack il Gordo e Jimmy il Trinca
e anche il giovane Billy.
Rubarono una lattina di biscotti al capitano
e una grande bottiglia di whisky.
Ma quando raggiunsero il mare aperto
non era avanzato che un pisello
secco.
Disse Jack il Gordo a Jimmy il Trinca
“Non abbiamo niente da mangiare così ti mangerò”
disse Jimmy il Trinca “Sono vecchio e rinsecchito,
è meglio mangiare il giovane Billy”
“Oh Giovane Billy stiamo per ucciderti e mangiarti
così sbottona il primo bottone della tua camiciola”
“Oh posso dire i comandamenti come la mia cara mamma mi ha raccomandato?”
S’arrampicò sulla cima dell’albero maestro
e poi si inginocchiò (sulla crocetta).
Ma quando arrivò all’11° comandamento
gridò “Yo Ho! Terra”.
“Vedo Gerusalemme e Madagascar
e il Nord e il Sud dell’America.
Vedo la flotta britannica all’ancora
e l’Ammiraglio Nelson K.C.B.”
Impiccarono Jack il Gordo e Jimmy il Trinca
ma fecero ammiraglio il Giovane Billy.

NOTE
La versione di Thackeray qui
1) dal francese chemise
2) scritto anche come top fore-gallant
2) i suoi compagni non dovevano essere molto ferrati con la Bibbia (e probabilmente Billy ne avrebbe inventati di nuovi per guadagnare tempo!)
4) sigla di “Knight Commander of the Bath” = Cavaliere Commendatore del Bagno, l’ordine militare cavalleresco fondato da Giorgio I nel 1725

LA VERSIONE SEA SHANTY

Secondo Stan Hugill “Little Billee” era una sea shanty per il lavoro alle pompe, un lavoro noioso e monotono che poteva senz’altro essere “rallegrato” da questa canzoncina! Hugill riporta solo il testo dicendo che la melodia è come la francese “Il était un Petit Navire”, così l’adattamento di Hulton Clint ha l’andamento di una ninna-nanna.


I
There were three sailors of Bristol City;
They stole a boat and went to sea.
But first with beef and hardtack biscuits
And pickled pork they loaded she.
And pickled pork they loaded she
II
There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
And likewise there was little Billee.
but when they got to the Equator
They’d only left but one split pea.
III
Then gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
“I am confounded hungaree.”
Says guzzling Jimmy to gorging Jacky
“We’ve no wittles (1), so we must eat we.”
IV
Said Gorging Jack to Guzzling Jimmy,
“Oh Guzzling Jim what a fool you be..
There’s little Billy, who’s young and tender,
We’re old and tough, so let’s eat he.”
V
“Make haste, make haste” then say Guzzling Jimmy
as he drew his snickher snee (2)
“O Billy, we’re going to kill and eat you,
undo the collar of your chemie.”
VI
When William heard this information
he drope down on bended knee
“O let me say my catechism
which my dear mom taught to me”
VII
So up he went to the maintop-gallant
and he drope down on his bended knee
and than he said  all his catechism
which his dear mamy once taught to he
VIII
He scarce had said his catechism
when up he jumps “There’s land I see
Jerusalem and Madagascaar
And North and South Amerikee.”
IX
“Jerusalem and Madagascar,
And North and South Amerikee;
There’s the British fleet a-riding at anchor,
With Admiral Napier, K.C.B.”
X
When they bordered to Admiral’s vessel,
He hanged fat Jack (3) and flogged Jimmee;
as for little Bill they make him
The Captain of a Seventy-three (4).
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
C’erano tre marinai della città di Bristol
che rubarono una nave ed andarono per mare, ma prima la caricarono di manzo e gallette
e di maiale sotto sale
di maiale sotto sale
II
C’erano Jack il Gordo e Jimmy il Trinca
e c’era anche il giovane Billy.
Ma quando raggiunsero l’Equatore
era avanzato solo un pisello.
III
Jack il Gordo a Jimmy il Trinca
“Sono terribilmente affamato”
dice Jimmy il Trinca a  Jack il Gordo “Non abbiamo cibo, così ci mangeremo”
IV
Disse Jack il Gordo  a Jimmy il Trinca “Oh Jim il trinca, che sciocco sei,
c’è il piccolo Billy, che è giovane e tenero, noi siamo vecchi e duri, meglio mangiare lui”
V
“Sbrigati, sbrigati ” allora dice Jimmy il Trinca mentre estrae il suo snickher snee
“Oh  Billy stiamo per ucciderti e mangiarti,  disfa il nodo della camicia”
VI
Quando William udì questa notizia
si gettò in ginocchio
“Oh posso dire i comandamenti che la mia cara mamma mi ha insegnato?”
VII
S’arrampicò sulla cima dell’albero maestro e poi si inginocchiò per recitare i comandamenti che sua madre gli aveva un tempo insegnato
VII
Non aveva finito di dirli
quando si rizzò con un balzo ” Vedo terra, Gerusalemme e Madagascar
e il Nord e il Sud dell’America.
IX
Gerusalemme e Madagascar
e il Nord e il Sud dell’America
c’è la flotta britannica all’ancora
e l’Ammiraglio Nelson K.C.B.”
X
Quando salirono a bordo del vascello dell’ammiraglio
Impiccarono il grasso Jack e
frustarono Jimmy
ma fecero il giovane Billy
capitano di un 73

NOTE
1)  storpiatura di “vittles,”che sta per “victuals,”= “food.”
2) un grande coltello particolarmente letale usato come arma, non c’è un equivalente italiano
3) in alcune versioni si distingue il grado di colpa tra i due marinai, così uno solo è impiccato
4) vascello da guerra di 73 cannoni

E per corollario ecco la versione francese “Un Petit Navire”
FONTI
http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=139
http://www.bartleby.com/360/9/84.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_%C3%A9tait_un_petit_navire
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8278
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=22872

CONGO RIVER

Blow Bullies Blow, conosciuta anche con il titolo di “Blow boys blow”, “The Yankee Clipper” e “Congo River” è un canto marinaresco (sea shanty) classificabile sostanzialmente in due principali filoni testuali.
(Versione Yankee Clipper)

CLIPPER: nave a vela, con spiccate attitudini per la velocità (arrivavano anche a 18 nodi), usata tra gli anni venti e la fine del XIX secolo, per lunghi percorsi con carichi pregiati (tè con la Cina, lana con l’Australia, passeggeri come postali) clipper packets — i postali che con regolarità attraversavano l’oceano atlantico —in particolare i Black Baller , i postali della American Black Ball line, che derivava il nome dalla sua bandiera rossa con un disco nero al centro. Erano navi molto veloci e il percorso dall’Inghilterra all’America (tratta Liverpool – New York), per lo più contro vento, durava quattro settimane, mentre il ritorno, con il vento a favore, poteva durare meno di tre settimane. Il nome “packet” deriva dal fatto che i clipper svolgevano la funzione di “postini” ovvero trasportavano la corrispondenza tra le due sponde dell’Atlantico o anche tra Inghilterra-Australia (altro continente pieno di coloni inglesi, scozzesi e irlandesi)
“Nasceva così, intorno al 1820, un nuovo tipo di veliero che tradizionalmente si pone nelle coste nordorientali degli Stati Uniti d’America, nazione giovane e dinami­ca ben diversa dal mondo conservatore e consuetudinario inglese. Trattavasi di una nave ancora piccola, a due alberi, detta BALTIMORE CLIPPER perché nata a Baltimora, caratterizzata da forme di scafo molto stellate e molta vela, agile, manovriera e sopra tutto veloce. Buona pertanto al contrabbando e al trasporto di schiavi, perfino pirata.” (tratto da qui)

VERSIONE CONGO RIVER

Tra le merci pregiate imbarcate nei clipper c’erano anche gli schiavi africani, la tratta degli schiavi infatti perdurò ancora per buona parte dell’Ottocento (grosso modo un margine temporale tra il 1500 e il 1850), nonostante l’embargo inglese, e cessò con la spartizione dell’Africa in colonie. La prima nazione ad abolire lo schiavismo e a contrastare la tratta degli schiavi fu l’Inghilterra (per la verità la Francia rivoluzionaria rese liberi anche i neri, ma Napoleone ristabilì la schiavitù nelle colonie francesi).

slave-tradeLa tratta degli schiavi coinvolse tutta la costa atlantica  dell’Africa ma in particolare si concentrò nel territorio intorno alle foci del fiume Congo (si stima che da qui partirono quattro milioni di persone, circa un terzo del totale).  Portoghesi, inglesi, francesi e olandesi erano i mercanti principali, ma a dare una mano per le razzie nell’entroterra erano le stesse tribù africane in perenne lotta tra di loro. E il fiume Congo era un ottimo tracciato che attraversava la foresta vergine fino al mercato di Kinshasa, a trecento kilometri dalla costa.

ASCOLTA The Clancy Brotheres & Tommy Makem in Sing of the Sea 1968 (testo più esteso qui)

ASCOLTA The 97th Regimental String Band

ASCOLTA Hulton Clint variante proveniente da una fonte caraibica (in Folklore and the Sea di Horace Beck)
ASCOLTA Ivan Houston (una interpretazione decisamente caraibica)


I
Oh was you ever on the Congo River Blow, boys, blow!
Black fever makes the white man shiver
Blow, me bully boys, blow!
A Yankee ship came down the river
Her masts and yards they shone like silver
Chorus:
And blow me boys and blow forever
Blow, boys, blow!
Aye, blow me down the Congo River
Blow, me bullyboys, blow!
II
What do think she had for cargo
Why, black sheep that had run the embargo
And what do you think they had for dinner?
Why a monkey’s heart and a donkey´s liver.
III
Yonder comes the Arrow packet
She fires her guns can´t you hear the racket?
Who do you think was the skipper of her?
Why, Bully Hayes, the sailor lover
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Siete mai stati sul fiume Congo?
forza, ragazzi, forza!
Le febbre nera fa tremare gli uomini bianchi.
forza, miei bravacci, forza
Una nave yankee (1) discende il fiume,
albero e pennoni brillano come l’argento.
CORO
E forza (2), miei ragazzi, forza per sempre, forza, ragazzi, colpite!
Si, buttatemi giù nel fiume Congo
forza, miei bravacci, colpite!
II
Quale pensate che sia il suo carico?
Beh, sono pecore nere (3), sfuggite all’embargo.
E cosa pensate che abbiano mangiato a pranzo?
Beh, code di scimmia e fegato di manzo (4).
III
Da lontano arriva il postale Arrow (5),
spara i suoi cannoni non senti il baccano?
Chi pensate che sia il suo capitano?
Beh, Bully Hayes (6)  il beniamino dei marinai(7)!

NOTE
1) la Terra Yankee corrisponde alla Nuova Inghilterra, e yankees sono detti i suoi abitanti. Sembra che il termine sia la corruzione indiana del francese anglais.
2) il verbo to blow significa sia colpire che soffiare; ci si aspetterebbe un “pull” o “haul” ma trattandosi di velature potrebbe essere un incitazione perchè si alzi il vento. Ma anche nel significato di colpire, come monito della dura disciplina che vigeva sulle navi. Del resto in termino colloquiali anche in italiano “suonargliele” a qualcuno significa picchiarlo per bene!
3) il carico di “pecore nere” sta per gli schiavi africani deportati verso le Americhe.
4) il menù varia elencando cibo altrettanto insolito: “monkey’s arse and a sandfly’s liver”
5) clipper packets — i postali che con regolarità attraversavano l’oceano atlantico
6) il soprannome di Bully dato al capitano è da intendersi qui nel significato negativo di bullo, persona prepotente e crudele, non per niente era conosciuto come “Bully Hayes, the Down East bucko.” 
7) appellativo da intendersi in senso ironico “colui che è amato dai marinai” è ovviamente il più detestato

FONTI
Congo di David van Reybrouck
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17461
http://research.culturalequity.org/get-audio-detailed-recording.do?recordingId=27276
http://anitra.net/chanteys/blow.html

HANDY ME BOYS

shanty_ballad“Be handy” è un espressione tipica nelle canzoni marinaresche (sea shanty): letteralmente si traduce in italiano come “essere a portata di mano” C’è anche una lieve di allusione sessuale. Possibili significati: rendersi utile ma anche trovarsi a portata di mano (come in handy), Charley Noble su Mudcat suggerisce “clever” o “nimble” piuttosto che “friendly” (ovvero in italiano amichevole, disponibile) Oh il fascino della traduzione si potrebbe stare delle ore per cercare di cogliere le sfumature!! La canzone è un tipico esempio delle composizioni improvvisate dallo shantyman, basate su “cliché verses of chanteying”

ASCOLTA Hulton Clint

ASCOLTA Tom Sullivan

ASCOLTA Assasin’s Creed

Why can’t ye be so handy-o!
Handy, me boys, so handy!
Oh, aloft this yard(1) must go.
Ooh! Up aloft from down below.
Growl ye may, but go ye must.
Growl too much an yer head they’ll bust.(2)
Oh, a bully ship an’ a bully crew.
Oh, we’re the gang for the kick’er through(3).
Yer advance has gone, yer at sea again.
Hey, bound round the horn through the hail an’ rain.
Sing an’ haul, an’ haul an’ sing.
Up aloft this yard we’ll swing.
Up aloft that yard must go.
For we are outward bound(4), ye know.
A handy ship an’ a handy crew.
A handy Mate(5) an Old Man too.

NOTE
1) yard= pennone; è l’asta orizzontale messa in croce con l’albero che regge le vele e prende il nome dalla relativa vela. Per le manovre i marinai si assiepano sui pennoni come uccellini sui fili della luce (assolutamente vietato per coloro che soffrono di vertigini!)
2) “se brontoli troppo la tua testa scoppierà”
3) son un po’ perplessa sul significato probabilmente si tratta di un refuso
4) letteralmente diretti verso l’esterno
5) in questo caso lo shantyman sta facendo dell’ironia, il significato di “alla mano” diventa “manesco”, cioè uno che picchia forte per futili motivi

TRADUZIONE ITALIANO DI CATTIA SALTO
Perchè non siete così alla mano, (alla mano ragazzi, così alla mano)? In alto questo pennone deve andare. Ooh! Su in alto da giù in basso, puoi ringhiare, ma devi andare, ringhia troppo e loro ti spaccheranno la faccia(2). Oh una nave cazzuta e un equipaggio cazzuto. Siamo la ganga per il calcio d’inizio, la paga è andata e di nuovo in mare. Ehi diretto per Capo Horn con la grandine e la pioggia, canta e tira, tira e canta In alto questo pennone faremo oscillare, in alto questo pennone deve andare perchè siamo fuori si sa, una nave alla mano e un equipaggio alla mano, un primo ufficiale alla mano e anche un Capitano