The Jolly Mariner

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The Jolly Mariner
by John Godfrey Saxe
Featured in Vol 2., No.7 of The Atlantic Monthly.

A Ballad.

    It was a jolly mariner
      As ever hove a log;
    He wore his trousers wide and free,
      And always ate his prog,
    And blessed his eyes, in sailor-wise,
      And never shirked his grog.

    Up spoke this jolly mariner,
      Whilst walking up and down:—
    "The briny sea has pickled me,
      And done me very brown;
    But here I goes, in these here clo'es,
      A-cruising in the town!"

    The first of all the curious things
      That chanced his eye to meet,
    As this undaunted mariner
      Went sailing up the street,
    Was, tripping with a little cane,
      A dandy all complete!

    He stopped,—that jolly mariner,—
      And eyed the stranger well;—
    "What that may be," he said, says he,
      "Is more than I can tell;
    But ne'er before, on sea or shore,
      Was such a heavy swell!"

    He met a lady in her hoops,
      And thus she heard him hail:—
    "Now blow me tight!—but there's a sight
      To manage in a gale!
    I never saw so small a craft
      With such a spread o' sail!

    "Observe the craft before and aft,—
      She'd make a pretty prize!"
    And then, in that improper way,
      He spoke about his eyes,
    That mariners are wont to use,
      In anger or surprise.

    He saw a plumber on a roof,
      Who made a mighty din:—
    "Shipmate, ahoy!" the rover cried,
      "It makes a sailor grin
    To see you copper-bottoming
      Your upper-decks with tin!"

    He met a yellow-bearded man,
      And asked about the way;
    But not a word could he make out
      Of what the chap would say,
    Unless he meant to call him names
      By screaming, "Nix furstay!"

    Up spoke this jolly mariner,
      And to the man said he,
    "I haven't sailed these thirty years
      Upon the stormy sea,
    To bear the shame of such a name
      As I have heard from thee!

    "So take thou that!"—and laid him flat.
      But soon the man arose,
    And beat the jolly mariner
      Across his jolly nose,
    Till he was fain, from very pain,
      To yield him to the blows.

    'Twas then this jolly mariner,
      A wretched jolly tar,
    Wished he was in a jolly-boat
      Upon the sea afar,
    Or riding fast, before the blast,
      Upon a single spar!

    'Twas then this jolly mariner
      Returned unto his ship,
    And told unto the wondering crew
      The story of his trip,
    With many oaths and curses, too,
      Upon his wicked lip!—

    As hoping—so this mariner
      In fearful words harangued—
    His timbers might be shivered, and
      His le'ward scuppers danged,
    (A double curse, and vastly worse
      Than being shot or hanged!)

    If ever he—and here again
      A dreadful oath he swore—
    If ever he, except at sea,
      Spoke any stranger more,
    Or like a son of—something—went
      A-cruising on the shore!

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.