Of Sea Shanties and Pirates

The opening of Parnassus Books in Nashville has resulted in a discovery of many unique books for this voracious reader. The store features not only a recommended section, with both little-known and bestselling books, but they also have a table filled to the brim with books by local authors. It was on this table that I happened upon one in particular by A.S. Peterson – The Fiddler’s Green.

Unfortunately, when I got it home I realized this was the second book in a series. Obviously I couldn’t crack open the cover without having first read its predecessor, so I had to wait until my next Parnassus visit. In the meantime, I became engrossed in the lore of pirates and seafaring folk.

I spent a few days simply doing research on all things of the sea. This, in turn, led to a decidedly “watery” poem for my creative writing class this past week. After all, with a theme of ancestors to work with, I knew that at some point, my forefathers (and mothers) would have had to travel to the New World by way of sea and ship.

Ships have always fascinated me, although not the modern kind with their engines, swimming pools, and dance clubs. No, I like to romanticize the days of sails, rigging, and calls of “Avast!” when a sword fight was eminent. While its most likely that those ships were anything but romantic, there is still something I find lacking in modern times. Cruise ships with apathetic passengers aren’t quite what I would term an adventure. No, a large part of me longs for cannons, buccaneers, and perhaps Johnnie Depp.

Back to subjects of paper and binding, I finally picked up the first book in Peterson’s series. The Fiddler’s Gun begins in the way that any true tale of shanties and pirates should – with a song. Appropriately entitled The Seaman’s Shanty, from the 18th century, the selection of the ditty that Peterson decided to open with was perfect for getting me excited about the story I had ahead of me:

Blown out o’ the harbour,

gone a’sailin’ all alone

down the briny ‘Lantic

on a hurricanic foam.

Dancin’ to the music

o’ the cannon an’ the gun.

‘Round the horn,

we’ll ground and shore

the wayward sailor’s home.

I get stuck on words like briny, hurricanic, and wayward. How beautifully lyrical! Anything that conjures up images of a gypsy nature will always make me pause and envision the people singing their tale. Do you picture a woman whispering this lullaby into the wind? I see her at the back of the ship, having climbed up into the rigging where she tries to catch a glimpse of her home, which has long-since disappeared into the horizon. She’s a stowaway – naturally – but has ventured out on deck because the pull of that view was simply too strong. Yet she also longs to be a part of this seafaring crew and their strange yet intriguing captain.

Coming back to reality, I think I’m going to enjoy this story…which has nothing to do with my daydreams, by the way. Or perhaps it does – I’ll have to read to find out!

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2 Responses to Of Sea Shanties and Pirates

  1. Jeremy says:

    Drink up me hearties yo ho!

  2. Pingback: Sea Shanties | a tube a day

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