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Lyr Add: When First I Went to Sea

GUEST,Rory 21 Nov 20 - 05:31 PM
cnd 22 Nov 20 - 12:22 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: When First I Went to Sea
From: GUEST,Rory
Date: 21 Nov 20 - 05:31 PM

"When First I Went to Sea"

Poem by Joseph Edward Carpenter (1813-1885) in 1839.
English playwright, composer, and songwriter.
Air written by E. Ransford.
Published in Joseph Carpenter's
The Romance of the Dreamer And Other Poems 1841, p.113-115.

First appeared in a Welsh newspaper Monmouthshire Merlin, 27 April 1839, p.4


The song tells of a sailor recalling his life as a sailor which he has never once regretted. He recalls the time he dreamed of living a sailor's life and first went to sea in a tall ship as a boundless enthusiastic boy, and surviving all that the seas can throw at the sailors, as well as helping to maintain the British Naval ships to victory as a bosun during the time of Admiral Nelson in the Napoleonic Wars.


1
Oh ! well do I remember still when first I went to sea ,
I was a merry laughing boy, as happy as could be ;
I long 'd to lead a sailor 's life amid the true and brave ,
And my bosom felt as buoyant and as bounding as the wave ;
Since then I've seen strange sights and scenes, but none have struck my mind ,
Like when I saw a tall ship first her wings spread to the wind ;
I've roved for many a night and day, in darkness and in glee ,
But I never yet did once regret when first I went to sea !

2
I've seen the waves around me dash when man could nought avail ;
I've heard the winds, and seen them rend to tatters every sail ;
I've faced my death a hundred times, but Providence was good ;
And I for years and years the storms and tempests have withstood .
Yet I have seen the angry waves, like giants in their might ,
O'erwhelm the best and bravest hearts, and bear them from my sight ;
But oh, I do not seek to change the scene, where'er it be ,
For I never yet did once regret when first I went to sea !

3
Oh ! I have kept the midnight watch beneath a starry sky ,
And listen'd to the legends wild that landsmen so decry ;
For in the deep and mystic sea there is a sacred spell
That none but sailors know and fear — that they alone can tell .
I care not, they may laugh at us who safe in harbour keep ,
But ne'er can he forget his God who dwells upon the deep ;
A moment, and his dwelling place the sailor's grave may be ;
But still I never did regret when first I went to sea .

4
I've dared the angry elements, and in the battle strife
I've stood amid the cannons roar, with blood and mischief rife ;
I helped to win the victory when Nelson met his death ,
And Britain gained the fight where passed her hero's latest breath .
And I, a humble boson, saw a nation's tears deplore
The idol of her people's hearts, afloat, and on the shore .
Oh! surely such a sight as this is fame enough for me ;
Then never can I once regret when first I went to sea .



Boson: On shore - Boatswain.
A ship's officer responsible for maintenance of the ship and its equipment.
Originally, on board sailing ships the boatswain was in charge of a ship's anchors, cordage, colours, deck crew and the ship's boats. The boatswain would also be in charge of the rigging while the ship was in dock



Recording

Katie Else
Album: Songs from Across the Lake and Sea (2018)


This is a song I heard on the recordings Alan Lomax made on Beaver Island, MI in 1938. It was sung by Andrew Gallagher who said he had learned it about 45 years before from a salt-water sailor named Salty Lyons. He said it was a popular sea shantey in the Great Lakes. I also found it in a book of songs called The Romance of the Dreamer published in 1841 with the air written by E. Ransford and words by Joseph Edward Carpenter. That was quite helpful as the Lomax tapes are slowed and some lyrics are hard to make out. The Great Lakes version does have some minor differences to reflect sailing on the lakes as opposed to the seas. 


Oh ! well do I remember still when first I went to sea,
I was a gay light-hearted youth, as happy as could be;
I long 'd to lead a sailor 's life among the true and brave,
My heart it felt as buoyant and bounding as the waves;

I've seen strange sights and scenes instead, but nothing to my mind,
Like when I saw a tall ship first her wings spread to the wind;
I've roved for many a night and day, through the mist and the sea,
And never do I once regret when first I went to sea!

I saw the waves around me dash when man could nought avail;
I've heard the winds, and seen them rend to tatters every sail;
I've faced my death one hundred times, but Providence was good;
And I for years and years the storms and tempests have withstood.

Yet I have seen the angry waves, like giants in their might,
O'erwhelm the best and bravest hearts, and bear them from my sight;
But oh, I do not seek to change the scene, where'er it be,
For never did I once regret when first I went to sea!

Oh ! I have kept the midnight watch beneath a starry sky,
I listen'd to the seamens din their loud and dismal cries;
For in this dark dark massive sea there is a sacred spell,
That all the sailors know and fear, and none but them can tell.



.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: When First I Went to Sea
From: cnd
Date: 22 Nov 20 - 12:22 PM

Thanks for sharing Rory, that sounds like a nice song


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