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On Board the Kangaroo

[ Roud 925 ; G/D 6:1211 ; Ballad Index MA060 ; trad.]

This capstan shanty is shown in Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas. Nic Jones learned it from a recording of Elizabeth Cronin of Macroon, County Cork, collected by Séamus Ennis. A live performance by him of unspecified origin was included in his 1988 anthology, In Search of Nic Jones.

Tony Rose recorded On Board the Kangaroo with one more verse in 1999 for his CD Bare Bones.

Lyrics

Nic Jones sings On Board the Kangaroo

First I was a waiting man that lived at home at ease,
And now I am a mariner that ploughs the angry seas.
I thought I'd like seafaring life, so I bid my love adieu,
And shipped aboard as steward, my boys, on board the Kangaroo.

Chorus (after each verse):
But I never thought she would prove false, or even prove untrue,
Till we sailed away from Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo.

“Cheer up! Cheer up! my own true love, don't weep so bitterly.”
Well, she sobbed, she sighed, she mourned, she cried, she would not say goodbye.
“I won't be gone so very long, maybe a month or two,
And when that I return again, fair maid, I'll marry you.”

Now I wasn't gone so very long upon these foreign shores,
And many's the fine presents unto my love I bore.
I bought tortoises from Tenerife, toys from Timbuktu,
And a China rat and a Bengal cat and a Bombay cockatoo.

So, paid up, I sought her dwelling in the southern part of town
Where an ancient dame upon a line was hanging out her gowns.
“Where is my love?”—“She's married, sir, about a month ago,
To a fine young man that drives a van for Chapman Son & Co.”

So here's health to the dreams of married life, and the soap and the suds and blue.
And a heart's true love and patent starch, I'll bid you all adieu.
I'll go on to some foreign land, no longer can I stay,
And on some Chinese Hottentot I'll throw myself away.

Tony Rose sings On Board the Kangaroo

Oh once I was a waiting man and I stayed at home at ease,
But now I am a mariner and plough the angry seas.
Well, I thought I'd like seafaring life, so I bid my love adieu,
And I shipped as steward and cook, my boys, on board the Kangaroo.

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh I never thought she would prove false, or even prove untrue,
Till we sailed away from Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo.

“Cheer up! Cheer up! my own true love, don't weep so bitterly.”
But she sobbed, she sighed, she choked, she cried, she could not say goodbye.
“Oh I won't be gone so very long, about a month or two,
And when that I return again, then I'll marry you.”

My love she is no foolish girl, oh her age it is two score,
My love she is no spinster, she's been married twice before.
And I cannot say it was her wealth that held my heart in sway,
She's a starcher at a laundery for eighteen pence a day.

Our vessel she was homeward bound for many's the foreign shore,
And many's the foreign presents unto my love I bore.
I bought tortoises from Tenerife, toys from Timbuktu,
And a China rat and a Bengal cat and a Bombay cockatoo.

Paid off I sought her dwelling in a suburb of the town
Where an ancient dame upon the line was hanging out her gown.
“Where is my love?”—“She's married, sir, about a month ago,
To a fine young man that drives a van for Chapman Son & Co.”

Here's a health to the dreams of married life, to soap, to suds and blue.
Heart's true love and patent starch, washing soda too.
I'll take me to some foreign shore, no longer will I stay,
And on some Chinese Hottentot I'll throw myself away.

Links

See also the Mudcat Caf'e thread Origins: Good Ship Kangaroo.