Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Lieutenant’s Complaint—1815
 
AS, pensive, this night on my sea-chest I lay,
  Which serves me for bed, chair, and table:
I mourn’d the sad hour I was placed on half-pay,
  Without tow-line, or anchor, or cable.
 
My money is gone, and my credit not good;        5
  My heart swells with anguish and sorrow:
No messmate is near to supply me with food,
  And honour forbids me to borrow.
 
Now I think on the time when, all snugly aboard,
  In the ward-room assembled together,        10
With plenty of wine and a table well stored,
  We laugh’d at dull care and foul weather.
 
Round, round went the song, and the jest, and the glance,
  While we drank good success to the Ocean;
And secretly toasted a favourite lass,        15
  Or talk’d about future promotion.
 
Then happiness smiled—I’d a plentiful purse,
  And slept sweetly when laid on my pillow:
My cradle the ship, and the sea-boy my nurse,
  While rock’d on old Neptune’s proud billow.        20
 
And when, safe in port, with my much-adored maid,
  Who look’d like a goddess or fairy,
How blest was my heart as we joyously stray’d,
  And I breathed forth my love to my Mary.
 
How changed is my fate! All my messmates are gone,        25
  And perhaps are, like me, doom’d to perish:
By my Mary—O, horror!—now treated with scorn,
  Though she vow’d long to love and to cherish.
 
Now I grasp my last cup—hard, hard is my lot,
  And my mind like the billows of Biscay:        30
You may think it is poison—indeed, it is not,
  But a special good jorum of whisky!
 
 
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