Tuesday, 14 June 2011

'Song of the Wooden-Legged Fiddler' by Alfred Noyes

  A little light relief does us all good, so grab your fiddles, have a swig of your favourite grog, and away we go:-

   Song of the Wooden-Legged Fiddler
         (Portsmouth 1805)

I lived in a cottage adown in the West
          When I was a boy, a boy;
But I knew no peace and I took no rest
Though the roses nigh smothered my snug little nest;
          For the smell of the sea
          Was much rarer to me,
And the life of a sailor was all my joy
    CHORUS:-  The life of a sailor was all my joy!  

My mother she wept, and she begged me to stay
      Anchored for life to her apron-string,
And soon she would want me to help wi' the hay;
So I bided her time, then I flitted away
     On a night of delight in the following spring,
                With a pair of stout shoon
                And a seafaring tune
     And a bundle and stick in the light of the moon,
                Down the long road
                To Portsmouth I strode,
To fight like a sailor for country and king.

CHORUS:- To fight like a sailor for country and king.

And now that my feet are turned homeward again
      My heart is still crying Ahoy! Ahoy!
And my thoughts are still out on the Spanish main
A-chasing the frigates of France and Spain,
     For at heart an old sailor is always a boy;
              And his nose will still itch
              For the powder and pitch
Till the days when he can't tell t'other from which,
     Nor a grin o' the guns from a glint o' the sea,
     Nor a skipper like Nelson from lubbers like me.

CHORUS:- Nor a skipper like Nelson from lubbers like me.

Ay!   Now that I'm old I'm as bold as the best,
     And the life of a sailor is all my joy;
              Though I've swapped my leg
              For a wooden peg
And my head is as bald as a new laid egg,
              The smell of the sea
              Is like victuals to me,
And I think in the grave I'll be crying Ahoy!
      For, though my old carcass is ready to rest,
      At heart an old sailor is always a boy.

CHORUS:- At heart an old sailor is always a boy.

This poem is among the 'Collected Poems' of Alfred Noyes, volume 1, published by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1913.  It reminds me of the work of William S Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, and perhaps was performed in the Music Hall of the day. If anybody can enlighten me, it would be much appreciated.

         Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

Alfred Noyes was an English poet born in Wolverhampton in 1880, died Isle of Wight 1958. He taught English Literature at Princeton University, USA, from 1914 to 1923. His first wife died in 1926 and he subsequently married a widow, Mary Angela Mayne Weld-Blundell, originally married into the recusant Catholic Weld-Blundell family, settling at Lisle Combe, near Ventnor, Isle of Wight.

Noyes was a prolific poet and writer, publishing his first collection of poems, 'The Loom Years', at aged 21. From 1903 to 1908 he published five additional volumes of poetry, including 'The Forest of Wild Thyme' and 'The Flower of Old Japan and Other Poems'.

In 1918 he followed with a short story collection 'Walking Shadows, SeaTales and Others' which included  'The Lusitania Waits', a ghost revenge tale based on the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine in 1915 – although the story hinges on a misconception that the submarine crew had been awarded the Goetz medal for sinking the ship.

In 1924 Noyes published another collection, 'The Hidden Player', and at the British Empire Exhibition, the same year, he wrote a series of poems set to music by Edward Elgar and known as 'Pageant of Empire'.

Alfred Noyes converted to Roman Catholicism in/about the late 1920s, and wrote about his conversion in 'The Unknown God' (1934). In his later years he suffered from increasing blindness, and in 1953 he published his autobiography 'Two Worlds for Memory'. In all he wrote about sixty books including poetry, novels, and short story collections. He died aged 77 years and is buried at Freshwater, Isle of Wight. (Wikipedia)

This is a further post on Alfred Noyes, the first one can be seen here,

A Pentecost Prayer:-
'Come O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle within them the fire of Thy love, send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth'          Let us pray,
'O God Who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant we beseech Thee, that by the gift of the same Holy Spirit, that we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in Thy consolation, through Christ Our Lord. Amen'
'May the Holy Spirit guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.'