Mermaid

No: 289; variant: 289A

  1. AS we lay musing in our beds, So well and so warm at ease, I thought upon those lodging-beds Poor seamen have at seas.
  2. Last Easter day, in the morning fair, We was not far from land, Where we spied a mermaid on the rock, With comb and glass in hand.
  3. The first came up the mate of our ship, With lead and line in hand, To sound and see how deep we was From any rock or sand.
  4. The next came up the boatswain of our ship, With courage stout and bold: ‘Stand fast, stand fast, my brave lively lads, Stand fast, my brave hearts of gold!’
  5. Our gallant ship is gone to wreck, Which was so lately trimmd; The raging seas has sprung a leak, And the salt water does run in.
  6. Our gold and silver, and all our cloths, And all that ever we had, We forced was to heave them overboard, Thinking our lives to save.
  7. In all, the number that was on board Was five hundred and sixty-four, And all that ever came alive on shore There was but poor ninety-five.
  8. The first bespoke the captain of our ship, And a well-spoke man was he; ‘I have a wife in fair Plymouth town, And a widow I fear she must be.’
  9. The next bespoke the mate of our ship, And a well-bespoke man was he; ‘I have a wife in fair Portsmouth, And a widow I fear she must be.’
  10. The next bespoke the boatswain of our ship, And a well-bespoke man was he; ‘I have a wife in fair Exeter, And a widow I fear she must be.’
  11. The next bespoke the little cabbin-boy, And a well-bespoke boy was he; ‘I am as sorry for my mother dear As you are for your wives all three.
  12. ‘Last night, when the moon shin’d bright, My mother had sons five, But now she may look in the salt seas And find but one alive.’
  13. ‘Call a boat, call a boat, you little Plymouth boys, Don’t you hear how the trumpet[s] sound? [For] the want of our boat our gallant ship is lost, And the most of our merry men is drownd.’
  14. Whilst the raging seas do roar, And the lofty winds do blow, And we poor seamen do lie on the top, Whilst the landmen lies below.