The Eddystone Lighthouse sits atop the treacherous Eddystone Rocks off the coast of the United Kingdom. The current lighthouse is actually the fourth to hold sway there.

eddystoneThe original Eddystone Lighthouse was an octagonal wooden structure whose light first shone in November of 1698. It was destroyed just five years later on November 27 during the Great Storm of 1703. The unfortunate builder Henry Winstanley was on the lighthouse, completing additions to the structure at the time. No trace was found of him, or of the other five men in the lighthouse.

The fame of the lighthouse spread well beyond those using it for guidance in the English Channel. It became the subject of a sea shanty sung by drunken sailors around the world. Shanties are those songs sung on board ship to relieve the boredom of shipboard tasks, but during the 20th century and particularly during the mid-century folk craze, sea shanties were adopted by landlubbers everywhere. The Eddystone Light became a particular favorite of many a drunken sailor, armed with a guitar or banjo and a good supply of beer, no matter how far away the nearest navigable waters.

Oh, me father was the keeper of the eddystone light
And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
From this union there came three
A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me

Yo ho ho
The wind blows free
Oh for the life on the rolling sea

One day as I was a-trimmin’ the glim
Humming a tune from the evening hymn
A voice from the starboard shouted, “Ahoy”
And there was me mother a-sittin’ on the buoy

Yo ho ho
The wind blows free
Oh for the life on the rolling sea

Oh what has become of me children three?
Me mother then she asked of me
One was exhibited as a talking fish
The other was served in a chafing dish

Yo ho ho
The wind blows free
Oh for the life on the rolling sea

Then the phosphorus flashed in her seaweed hair
I looked again, but me mother wasn’t there
But I heard her voice echoing back through the night
The devil take the keeper of the eddystone light

Yo ho ho
The wind blows free
Oh for the life on the rolling sea

 

calv-snow

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