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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleAdmiral's return
Roud No.12876
Collected FromKing, William
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 480
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 27th November, 1915, p 2, Part 9, No. 1
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

How gallantly, how merrily, we ride along the sea!
The morning is all sunshine, the wind is blowing free;
The billows are all sparkling, and bounding in the light,
Like creatures in whose sunny veins the blood is running bright.

Verse 2

All nature knows our triumph, strange birds about us sweep,
Strange things come up to look at us - the masters of the deep;
In our wake, like any servant, follows even the bold shark,
Oh! Proud must be the Admiral of such a bonny barque.

Verse 3

Oh! Proud must be our Admiral, though he is pale today,
Of twice five hundred iron men who all his nod obey;
Who've fought for him and conquered, who've won with sweat and gore,
Nobility, which he shall have whene'er he touch the shore.

Verse 4

Oh! Would I were an Admiral, to order with a word!
To lose a dozen drops of blood and straight rise up a lord!
I'd shout to yonder shark there, which follows in our lee -
'Some day I'll make thee carry me like lightning through the sea.'

Verse 5

Our Admiral grew paler and paler as we flew,
Still talked he to the officers, and smiled upon the crew;
He looked up at the heavens, and he looked down on the sea,
And at last he saw this creature that was following in our lee.

Verse 6

He shook - 'twas but an instant, for speedily the pride,
Ran crimson to his heart, till all chances he defied;
It threw boldness on his forehead, gave firmness to his breath,
And he looked like some warrior now risen up from death.

Verse 7

That night a horrid whisper fell on us where we lay,
And we knew our fine old Admiral was changing to clay;
And we heard the dash of waters, though nothing we could see,
But a whistle and a plunge among the billows on our lee.

Verse 8

Till morn we watched the body in its dead and ghastly sleep,
And next evening at sunset, it was flung into the deep;
And never from that moment, save one shudder on the sea,
Saw we, or heard the creature, that had followed in our lee.
Print Song Lyrics
Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: The Admirals Return is a superior folk song. The subject is a good one, and it is developed with skill and considerable imagination. I do not know the age of the piece - it probably dates from the seventeenth century. Obtained of William King, Purton, Wiltshire.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.



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