Home | Poems | Plays | Short Stories | Essays | Children's Stories | Children's Poems | German | Photographs | Autism Appreciation | Contact

The Pirate Songs of Rosses Point

This collection was conceived in that beautiful Irish summer of 2007. I was off work that day, which I decided to spend at Rosses Point. Seeking shelter from the searing heat, I went into the caves where I found an inexhaustible store of tobacco, wine and other goods piled up. At the far end, sitting on kegs and using a big wooden box as a table, I saw a dozen unkempt pirates and a priest who were chanting their songs while drinking themselves silly. They were difficult to understand since they were plastered, had thick Rossian accents, and not more than three teeth left; however, I have tried to preserve these musical gems as accurately as possible.


The Caves of Rosses Point

In the caves of Rosses Point
whale is served and torches lit,
for tonight we shall anoint
our new captain. Turn the spit,
pass the jug of ale around
with a jolly burping sound!

Two-armed Nathan wove a crown
out of seaweed and a rose,
Small Paul repossessed a gown
from the Spanish king: he knows,
noble clothes for noble men
should attire each noble plan!

Our good fortune had declined
till Old Pete, the Iron Bar,
unheroically resigned,
dying of pneumonia;
now Black Jack, with firmer hand,
leads our merry killing band!

And we shall not be deprived
of sweet pleasures in our den:
our first shipment has arrived
with a Spanish galleon.
There’s chorizo we can dine
on and lots of Spanish wine!

With tobacco in pipes of clay,
straight from the Americas,
we will celebrate this day
underneath the Rossian stars,
for tonight we’ll rock the joint
in the caves of Rosses Point!


Sailors of the Shore

When stars come out at night time,
we meet at Elsinore,
for this is just the right time
for stocking up our store.
We hoist the Jolly Roger,
and those who cross our way,
the vessels with each lodger,
won’t see another day.
Set sail! We’re fearless traders
who plunder and explore,
we are sadistic raiders
and sailors of the shore:
when vicious winds are blowing,
we’re sailing and we’re rowing,
and when the cock is crowing,
we’re back at Elsinore.

We sail the wicked ocean
and challenge Neptune’s pow’rs,
we kill without emotion
and take what is not ours -
be it a local trawler,
the galleon of a king,
we will be taking all her
goods and her lives and sing:
Set sail! We’re fearless traders
who plunder and explore,
we are sadistic raiders
and sailors of the shore:
when vicious winds are blowing,
we’re sailing and we’re rowing,
and when the cock is crowing,
we’re back at Elsinore.

Yes, we embrace the savage
commitment of the gales,
the hurricanes that ravage
and tear apart our sails.
So coast guards, get the message
that you can’t stop our game,
for we have found the passage
to riches and to fame!
Set sail! We’re fearless traders
who plunder and explore,
we are sadistic raiders
and sailors of the shore:
when vicious winds are blowing,
we’re sailing and we’re rowing,
and when the cock is crowing,
we’re back at Elsinore.


Dead Man’s Point

Their captain barked that they were late,
and that they mustn’t hang about!
The crew did nurse their dying mate;
meanwhile the tide was rolling out,
and since he didn’t move, they said
it was most likely he was dead.

They buried him beneath the sand,
but, just in case, left out his head,
and placed a bottle in his hand,
and in the other a loaf of bread,
bade him farewell with tear-filled eyes
and sailed away ‘neath solemn skies.

We watched the scene from Elsinore,
and when their ship was out of sight,
we checked the barrow on the shore,
unearthed him in the fading light,
made sure the hapless lad was dead
and poured his wine and broke his bread.


Father Duff’s Confession

Forgive me, Your Grace, for I have sinned. My parish
was such a tranquil place to be,
full of that peace that other priests may cherish
and all that effing amity.

Hearing confession in Gibraltar nurses
contempt for sinners on their knees,
their little jealousies, small flaws, mild curses
and petty infidelities.

Then I met Father Flynn. My head went dizzy
on hearing what he’s dealing in:
though his confession box was always busy,
he’d never heard a venial sin.

His parish was a charming fishing village
called Rosses Point whose folk at least
confess to murder, plunder, rape and pillage
each time they’re talking to their priest.

I envied him! Two sea miles from Gibraltar
the world was wild and virtue dead;
I took the crucifix down from the altar
and hit it hard across his head.

Now I am priest in Rosses! My transgression
has changed my life, and I have learned
to love the holy sacrament of confession
and see their absolution earned.

And when I walk the beach, Small Paul might meet me,
or Two-armed Nathan, and in glee
Black Jack and all his gang would come to greet me
and take me with them on a spree.

I talk too much, Your Grace. The state of bearing
this knowledge I shan’t leave you in;
besides, I’ve always loved that ring you’re wearing.
Forgive me, for I’m about to sin...


Pirate Song

We love each gale, we love each breeze,
the ocean and the shore,
and we have sailed the Seven Bays
from Glinsk to Mullaghmore.

We make all sailors’ dreams come true
who wish to face their fears
and bury them together like
congenial buccaneers.

Tonight around Killaspug Point,
tomorrow to Strandhill,
thereafter to Culleenamore –
we won’t be standing still!

We kill and maim whom we can find
for profit and for fun,
and if we lose some of our own,
there’s naught that can be done.

And when we sail with fellow thugs
who love to rob and shoot,
like Captain Longarm and his crew,
we cheat and keep the loot.

And when the setting sun illumes
the men who lost their lives,
we turn the vessel and set sail,
returning to our wives.

We count our blessings and our spoils
from those unlucky ships
and split it almost fairly with
a shanty on our lips.

We sing about the many things
that pirates sing about
when they conclude a hard night’s work
over a glass of stout.


The Turkish Knife

A brand new combat knife from Turkey
became the pirate captain’s pride
and toy until the night when Quirky
Quintillus took Black Jack aside,
‘Sir, Semi-savage Sven seems willing
to test the power of your knife:
he says your favourite sport is killing,
and that you’ve no regard for life.’ -
‘I’ll show him what my favourite sport is,
and he’ll be in for some surprise:
I’ll kick him full of rigor mortis,
and then I’ll stab him till he dies!’

And so he did. He showed his fitness
in front of the entire crew,
and in amazement we could witness
the things a Turkish knife can do.
And from that day we tried to bridle
our tongues, more than we did before.
His Turkish knife was never idle
for long, and often he would roar,
‘I’ll show him what my favourite sport is,
and he’ll be in for some surprise:
I’ll kick him full of rigor mortis,
and then I’ll stab him till he dies!’


Elsinore House Rules

Welcome to Elsinore, my friends
and fellow pirates, here
you can relax with one who spends
his loot on wine and beer.
Here is sufficient food, and booze
the ocean for to drown:
be welcome, but take off your shoes
and keep your voices down.
My wife is fussy when it comes
to noise and dirt, I say,
she even nags about my crumbs
at breakfast every day.
And, under pain of death, no word
of how we earn our bread,
'cause if my Elsie ever heard
about it, I’d be dead.
Be careful what you say and when,
there is too much at stake:
my wife thinks I’m a fisherman
who’s had a lucky break.

In velvet cushions we shall sink
from many a raid and theft,
from golden chalices we’ll drink
which the Armada left,
some rough tobacco we shall smoke
after a hard night’s work,
get snug in Night’s forgiving cloak
to drink and never shirk.
But careful what you say and when,
there is too much at stake:
my wife thinks I’m a fisherman
who’s had a lucky break.

She is as soft as ripened fruit
unless you wear a beard,
but if she’s crossed by any brute,
she is the one who’s feared.
She trusts you not, to say the least,
no sailor hates you more,
and if it wasn’t for the priest,
she’d show you all the door.
Be careful what you say and when,
there is too much at stake:
my wife thinks I’m a fisherman
who’s had a lucky break.


Funny Crossbones

Once upon a time there was
a lady on a ship with flaws,
but as the waters gathered round her,
a stately pirate vessel found her.

The pirates pulled the girl on deck
where mouth-to-mouth she didn’t lack,
and from the time she did recover,
the maid became the first mate’s lover.

The men were getting drunk and gay;
only the first mate stayed away
until, exhausted from the action,
he joined the vessel’s bingeing section.

And here he sang and drank again
with Captain Longarm and his men.
Her head appeared above his porter’s;
he said, ‘I’ll bring you to our quarters.’

The woman told him on the spot,
‘Not with a breath like that you’re not,’
smiled at the captain and retired
with the new cabin boy he’d hired.

This instance made the pirates think,
and many now stayed off the drink -
hoping to get a turn, they’d quarrel,
intrigue and even get immoral.

One evening Captain Longarm went
on deck; she’d chosen him to spend
the night with her, leant at the railing
and asked about the art of sailing.

Instead of sounds of sins of the flesh
the shipmates heard a massive splash
and rushed on deck, and here their saviour
soon justified his odd behaviour,

‘This creature caused our jealousy,
discomfort and sobriety,
so with the limb I got my name from
I brought her back to where she came from.’

The pirate crew went back inside
where smokes and whiskey were supplied:
the captain’s cabin shook with laughter,
and they drank heavily ever after.


The Ballad of Two-armed Nathan

Gather round to hear the story
of a man who meant no harm,
how in battle, cruel and gory,
our friend Nathan lost his arm.

Once we sailed the bay on business
when a cutter came our way;
heedless of the seriousness
of a sight we see each day,
we approached the coast guard vessel,
holding out a pile of cash,
not expecting any hassle,
but their captain was a fresh
face who didn’t know the custom.
When the coast guards came on board,
seeing that he couldn’t trust ‘em,
good old Nathan drew his sword.
But one coast guard, faster, bolder,
with a little servant’s hump,
cut his arm off at the shoulder
which fell deckwards with a thump.
Gather round to hear the story
of a man who meant no harm,
how in battle, cruel and gory,
One-armed Nathan lost his arm.

He, as fiery as twelve spices,
grabbed the cutlass with his left,
cut the coast guard into slices
to avenge the armèd theft,
then, just like his pirate brothers
loving bloodshed, gore and fun,
killed their captain, and the others
realised the best man won.
They apologised sincerely
for our suff’rings, wounds and cuts,
and the deck revealed most clearly
that they certainly had guts
and were heading for the gutter
with no unharmed man around:
we cut holes into their cutter,
and we sent them to the ground.
Gather round to hear the story
of a man who meant no harm,
how in battle, cruel and gory,
One-armed Nathan lost his arm.

‘You’re a hero, One-armed Nathan,’
we all shouted. ‘With your gift
you’d defeat the wily Pathan!’
but the hero looked quite miffed.
‘One-armed Nathan, what’s the matter?’
asked Old Pete, as I recall.
‘I don’t like that fact, and better:
I don’t like that name at all!’
Once the gaping wound was tended,
Nathan with his arm was gone,
took it to the taxidermist,
had it fixed and sawn back on.
‘May King Herod’s fate befall me
if I bear that name,’ he swore.
‘None of you shall ever call me
One-armed Nathan any more!’
Gather round to hear the story
of a man who meant no harm,
how in battle, cruel and gory,
Two-armed Nathan lost his arm.


© Frank L. Ludwig