River Lea

This is a traditional sea song and can be found in Joanna C. Colcord’s Songs of American Sailormen, p. 181. However most of us find the melody awkward so my friend Gina Dunlap composed a melody more fitting to the lyrics. Thank you, Gina!

It was one fine day in the month of May,
And I was outward bound.
I hadn’t any tin to buy some gin,
So I walked the street all around.
My shoes was out at the elbows,
And I was sore in need
So I shipped as a jolly sailor
On board of the River Lea.

No more I’ll go to sea,
beat down the bay of Fundy.
Forever more I’ll stay on shore,
I’ll go to sea no more.

No more I’ll take my first lookout
No more I’ll take my wheel.
No more at the cry up aloft I fly,
While “Ay, ay, sir!” I squeal.
No more I’ll reef those topsails,
For it is no more my trade.
No more I’ll brail that spanker in
On board of the River Lea.

No more I’ll pull on the lee fore brace
Nor by royal halliards stand,
No more I’ll ride those swifters down
With a tar-pot in my hand.
No more I’ll cross those royal yards
Nor furl that flying jib.
No more I’ll shift gaff-topsail tacks
On board of the River Lea.

I’ve crossed the Western Ocean,
I’ve sailed the raging main
But I’ve made it a rule that I won’t be a fool
And go to sea again.
I’ll stay at home in comfort
And good advice I’ll give:
Don’t ever ship as a sailor
On board of the River Lea.

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