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Anchor Song

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on Anchor Song at the Kipling Society]

Originally entitled Envoy, Anchor Song is a poem from Kipling’s books Many Inventions (Appleton and Company, 1893) and The Seven Seas (Appleton and Company, 1900).

Peter Bellamy sang Anchor Song on his fourth album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Keep on Kipling, with Chris Birch accompanying him on violin. Bellamy also sang it live at the Cockermouth Folk Club in January 1991; this recording was published on the cassette Songs an’ Rummy Conjurin’ Tricks.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Anchor Song in 2002 on the Revels CD Homeward Bound and in 2003 on their own CD Twiddlum Twaddlum. They noted:

The poem is by Rudyard Kipling (1893) and the tune setting by Peter Bellamy. “Mother Carey” refers to the deep ocean where the pelagic birds known as storm(y) petrels do indeed feed their chicks at sea.

Fay Hield learned Anchor Song from Peter Bellamy’s album and sang it in 2016 on her third album, Old Adam.


Anchor Song

Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah heave her short again!
Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.
Loose all sail, and brace your yards aback and full—
Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all!

Well, ah fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love—
Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee;
For the wind has come to say:
“You must take me while you may,
If you’d go to Mother Carey,
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!)
Oh, we’re bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”

Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah break it out o’ that!
Break our starboard bower out, apeak, awash, and clear.
Port—port she casts, with the harbour-roil beneath her foot,
And that’s the last o’ bottom we shall see this year!

Well, ah fare you well, for we’ve got to take her out again—
Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.
And it’s time to clear and quit
When the hawser grips the bitt,
So we’ll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!

Heh! Tally on! Aft and walk away with her!
Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall!
Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.
Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul!

Well, ah fare you well, for the Channel wind’s took hold of us,
Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free.
And it’s blowing up for night,
And she’s dropping Light on Light,
And she’s snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea.

Wheel, full and by; but she’ll smell her road alone to-night.
Sick she is and harbour-sick—O sick to clear the land!
Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us—
Carry on and thrash her out with all she’ll stand!

Well, ah fare you well, and it’s Ushant gives the door to us,
Whirling like a windmill on the dirty scud to lee:
Till the last, last flicker goes
From the tumbling water-rows,
And we’re off to Mother Carey
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!)
Oh, we’re bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!