Derelict by Young E. Allison

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest – Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

OPENING
I am A Man of Letters. I’ve been reading lately, and I have found some words I would like to share. Today, “Derelict” by Young E. Allison. Allison was born in 1853 and died in 1932. His poem “Derelict” was based on a fragment of a song in “Treasure Island” by Robert Lewis Stevenson. “Derelict” was first published in 1901.

BODY
Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the devil had done for the rest –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

The mate was fixed by the bos’n’s pike,

The bos’n brained with a marlinspike

And Cookey’s throat was marked belike

It had been gripped

By fingers ten;

And there they lay,

All good dead men,

Like break-o’-day in a boozing-ken –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of a whole ship’s list –

[…]

Dead and bedamned, and the rest gone whist! –

[…]

The skipper lay with his nob in gore

Where the scullion’s axe his cheek had shore –

And the scullion he was stabbed times four.

And there they lay,

And the soggy skies

Dripped all day long

In up-staring eyes –

At murk sunset and at foul sunrise –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of ’em stiff and stark –

[…]

Ten of the crew had the Murder mark –

[…]

‘Twas a cutlass swipe, or an ounce of lead,

Or a yawing hole in a battered head –

And the scuppers glut with a rotting red.

And there they lay –

Aye, damn my eyes! –

All lookouts clapped

On paradise –

All souls bound just contrariwise –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of ’em good and true –

[…]

Every man jack could ha’ sailed with Old Pew –

[…]

There was chest on chest full of Spanish gold,

With a ton of plate in the middle hold,

And the cabins riot of stuff untold.

And they lay there

That had took the plum,

With sightless glare

And their lips struck dumb,

While we shared all by the rule of thumb –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through the sternlight screen –

[…]

Chartings ondoubt where a woman had been –

[…]

A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,

With a thin dirk slot through the bosom spot

And the lace stiff-dry in a purplish blot.

Or was she wench…

Or some shuddering maid… ?

That dared the knife

And that took the blade!

By God! she was stuff for a plucky jade –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest –

[…]

Drink and the devil had done for the rest –

[…]

We wrapped ’em all in a mains’l tight,

With twice ten turns of a hawser’s bight,

And we heaved ’em over and out of sight –

With a yo-heave-ho!

And a fare-you-well!

And a sullen plunge

In the sullen swell

Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell –

Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!

CLOSING
Thank you for listening. For more information about the words I have read and the music to follow, please visit A Man of Letters. amoletters.com.

Until I return, I am… A Man of Letters.

MUSIC
Coon Sanders Orchestra – Maytag Frolic (c1926)

Episode 1527