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The Coiner

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

The Coiner is a poem by Rudyard Kipling from his book Limits and Renewals. Peter Bellamy sang it accompanied by Chris Birch on violin on his fourth album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Keep on Kipling. He commented in the sleeve notes:

Did Shakespeare crib the idea for The Tempest from the tall tales of the sailors who were shipwrecked on Bermuda with Sir George Somers? The Coiner seems to suggest that Kipling thought so!


The Coiner by Rudyard Kipling

(To be sung by the unlearned to the tune of King John and the Abbot of Canterbury, and by the learned to Tempest A-Brewing.)

Against the Bermudas we foundered, whereby
This Master, that Swabber, yon Bo'sun, and I
(Our pinnace and crew being drowned in the main)
Must beg for our bread through old England again.

For a bite and a sup, and a bed of clean straw
We'll tell you such marvels as man never saw.
On a Magical Island which no one did spy
Save this Master, that Swabber, yon Bo'sun, and I.

Seven months among Mermaids and Devils and Sprites.
And Voices that howl in the cedars o' nights.
With further enchantments we underwent there.
Good Sirs, 'tis a tale to draw guts from a bear!

'Twixt Dover and Southwark it paid us our way.
Where we found some poor players were labouring a play;
And, willing to search what such business might be.
We entered the yard, both to hear and to see.


One hailed us for seamen and courteous-ly
Did guide us apart to a tavern near by
Where we told him our tale (as to many of late).
And he gave us good cheer, so we gave him good weight.

Mulled sack and strong waters on bellies well lined
With beef and black pudding do strengthen the mind;
And seeing him greedy for marvels, at last
From plain salted truth to flat leasing we passed.


But he, when on midnight our reckoning he paid.
Says, “Never match coins with a Coiner by trade.
Or he'll turn your lead pieces to metal as rare
As shall fill him this globe, and leave something to spare…”

We slept where they laid us, and when we awoke
'Was a crown or five shillings in every man's poke.
We bit them and rang them, and, finding them good.
We drank to that Coiner as honest men should!

For a cup and a crust, and a truss, etc.