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Salt Horse

[ Roud 18904 ; trad.]

The Claque sang Salt Horse in 2008 on their WildGoose CD Sounding Now. They noted:

Salt Horse celebrates the practice of selling clapped-out old horses to ship’s captains to be salted down for meat on a long voyage. An interesting and sympathetic song that suggests that sailors were reluctant to eat horse for esoteric reasons. Probably not so. Also gleaned from Dave Stephenson.

Lyrics

The Claque sing Salt Horse

Salt Horse, Salt Horse, we'd have you know
That to the galley you must go;
The cook without a sign of grief
Will boil you down, and call you beef.
And, we poor sailors standing near,
Must eat you though you look so queer;
Salt Horse, Salt Horse, what brought you here?

Salt Horse, Salt Horse, both near and far
You're food for every hard work'd tar.
In strongest brine you have been sunk,
Until as hard and coarse as junk.
To eat such tough and wretched fare
Would whiten e'en a blackman's hair.
Salt Horse, Salt Horse, what brought you here?

Salt Horse, Salt Horse, what brought you here?
After carrying sand for many's the year
From Bantry Bay to Ballyrack,
Where you fell down and broke your back.
And after years of such abuse
They'll salt you down for sailor's use.
Salt Horse, Salt Horse, what brought you here?