Monday, 24 August 2009

Tall tales of the high seas

The opening verse of the sea shanty, Jack the Whaler, goes like this:
What’s more delight on a winter’s night
Than to sip a glass of grog,
And hear the old men spin their yarns
Before a burning log,
They tell their tales of monstrous whales
And of sights that they have seen,
It makes your hair stand end on end
and your stomach turn quite green.
And the folklore tradition described in this song is a living one, with new tales being spun out of the old, stories mysterious and creepy enough to send a shiver down the spine of the listener. Mysterious like the one about pirates raised from a watery grave by the all-powerful Mossad to plunder ships off the coast of Sweden. Creepy like the tale of The White Ship which steals children away when their parents aren’t looking, in order to cut out their kidneys, livers, and hearts.

Hopefully only a foolSwedish or otherwise, would believe such stories, but still, for all the excitement of the new, I’ll stay with the tall tales of times safely past.

Be good now, children, or The White Ship will get you!

(Another kind of Swedish story from the history books here.)

Update: of course Snoopy has the inside dope on those Mossad pirates!

jack the whaler
jack the whaler
Pages taken from Burl Ives’ Sea Songs of Sailing, Whaling and Fishing copyright © 1956 Burl Ives. Earlier samples here and here.

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Thanks for the linking kindness.

Best.