SEVEN men from all the world, back to Docks again,
Rolling down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
Give the girls another drink ‘fore we sign away—
We that took the “Bolivar” out across the Bay!
We put out from Sunderland loaded down with rails;
Racketing her rivets loose, smoke-stack white as snow,
All the coals adrift adeck, half the rails below,
Leaking like a lobster-pot, steering like a dray—
Out we took the Bolivar, out across the Bay!
One by one the Lights came up, winked and let us by;
Trailing like a wounded duck, working out her soul;
Clanging like a smithy-shop after every roll;
Just a funnel and a mast lurching through the spray—
So we threshed the Bolivar out across the Bay!
’Felt her hog and felt her sag, betted when she’d break;
Banged against the iron decks, bilges choked with coal;
Flayed and frozen foot and hand, sick of heart and soul;
Last we prayed she’d buck herself into judgment Day—
Hi! we cursed the Bolivar knocking round the Bay!
O her nose flung up to sky, groaning to be still—
Aching for an hour’s sleep, dozing off between;
’Heard the rotten rivets draw when she took it green;
’Watched the compass chase its tail like a cat at play—
That was on the Bolivar, south across the Bay.
Once we saw between the squalls, lyin’ head to swell—
Then a grayback cleared us out, then the skipper laughed;
“Boys, the wheel has gone to Hell—rig the winches aft!
Yoke the kicking rudder-head—get her under way!”
So we steered her, pulley-haul, out across the Bay!
Just a pack o’ rotten plates puttied up with tar,
Seven men from all the world, back to town again,
Rollin’ down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
Seven men from out of Hell. Ain’t the owners gay,
’Cause we took the “Bolivar” safe across the Bay?