Grieving's a Folly

Spanking Jack was so comely, so pleasant, so jolly,
Though winds blew great guns, still he'd whistle and sing,
For Jack loved his friend, and was true to his Molly,
And, if honor gives greatness, was great as a king.
One night as we drove with two reefs in the mainsail,
And the scud came on low'ring upon a lee shore,
Jack went up aloft for to hand the topg'ant sail -
A spray washed him off, and we ne'er saw him more:
But grieving's a folly,
Come let us be jolly;
If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.

Whiffling Tom, still of mischief or fun in the middle,
Through life in all weathers at random would jog;
He'd dance, and he'd sing and he'd play on the fiddle,
And swig with an air his allowance of grog:
'Longside of a Don, in the "Terrible" frigate,
As yardarm and yardarm we lay off the shore,
In and out whiffling Tom did so caper and jig it,
That his head was shot off, and we ne'er saw him more:
But grieving's a folly,
Come let us be jolly;
If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.

Bonny Ben was to each jolly messmate a brother,
He was manly and honest, good-natured and free;
If ever on tar was more true than another
To his friend and his duty, that sailor was he:
One day with the davit to weigh the kedge anchor,
Ben went in the boat on a bold craggy shore -
He overboard tipped, when a shark and a spanker
Soon nipped him in two, and we ne'er saw him more:
But grieving's a folly,
Come let us be jolly;
If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.

But what of it all, lads? Shall we be downhearted
Because that mayhap we now take our last sup?
Life's cable must one day or other be parted,
And Death in safe moorings will bring us all up:
But 'tis always the way on't - one scarce finds a brother
Fond as pitch, honest, hearty, and true to the core,
But by battle, or storm, or some damned thing or other
He's popped off the hook, and we ne'er see him more!
But grieving's a folly,
Come let us be jolly;
If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.



A glass is good, and a lass is good,
And a pipe to smoke in cold weather;
The world is good, and the people are good,
And we 're all good fellows together.

John O'Keefe (1747-1833): Sprigs of Laurel. Act ii. Sc. 1.


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Nancy Fry, nancy@wayward.com.