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A Shanty about Captain Cook


During the CCSU gathering in Australia last year Danny Spooner sang some sea shanties of the time of Cook. He noted that few, if any, songs were written about Cook, and speculated that it was because of his working class background, which was too close to the seamen.

So, to make amends, Danny wrote a shanty for the occasion. Here it is:-


Good people all assembled here come listen to my song,
I'll sing about a hero bold, twill not detain you long,
He was born and raised in Marton Town, James Cook it was his name,
He sailed this world all round about for glory and for fame.

The son of an honest labouring man, he loved the country ways,
But at twelve years old apprenticed was to a shopkeeper at Staiths,
But his master and he could not agree, so 'prenticed anew he was bound,
To Walker, collier masters that sailed from Whitby Town.

He worked the North Sea collier routes, the Norway and Baltic Trades,
The sea it mixed into his blood, for this life he way made,
But France and England went to war and the press gangs they roamed free,
To forestall the press he did enlist, for his king and countered

His North Sea time taught him seamanship, the navy more would add,
Cartography, astronomy, mathmatics and command;
The St. Lawrence River he surveyed, Labrador and Newfoundland,
Before the Royal Society sent him to the tropics stranded.

He mapped the coast of New South Wales, New Zealand and Hawaii,
He beat the scourge of the sailing ship, scurvy he kept at bay;
With sauerkraut and good fresh fruit his crews he kept from strife,
But little did this noble tar think soon held loose his life.

On the 13th day of Febru'ry in 1779
In the beautiful Karakakoa Bay on the islands of Hawaii,
The natives they grew angry, surrounded him that day,
They stabbed his body o'er and o'er and left him there to die.

Cook's partly burned body, next day was by the shore,
T'was given decent burial, then in eighteen and seventy four,
They raised a monument to this Yorkshire son on the spot where he did fall,
But his charts of the Pacific are his greatest shrines of all.

Danny Spooner

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 379, volume 8, number 3 (1985).

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