Traditional Scottish Songs
- A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea
Allan Cunningham, who wrote this evocative song, was born at Keir, Dumfriesshire - his father was a neighbour of Robert Burns at Ellisland. Allan Cunningham and his brother visited James Hogg, the "Ettrick shepherd", who became a friend to both. Some of Cunningham's songs hold a high place among British lyrics. "A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea" is one of the best British sea-songs, although written by a landsman.
A Wet Sheet and a Flowing SeaA Wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free -
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.
"O for a soft and gentle wind!"
I heard a fair one cry:
But give to me the snoring breeze
And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
The good ship tight and free -
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.
There's tempest in yon hornèd moon,
And lightning in yon cloud:
But hark the music, mariners!
The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free -
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.
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