MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Flying Cloud
Gerald Aylward NFLD 1 Tape 5 Track 2
Cape Broyle Audio:
Ballad / pirate ship

Come all ye gallant seamen bold come listen unto me
I'm heavy bound in irons strong for to die for piracy
With eighteen more I am condemned in sorrow and in shame
For robbing and for plundering ships down on the Spanish Main

When I was young and innocent my heart it knew no vice
In a happy home I lived content my parents on me smiled
But drinking and bad company soon made a ruin of me
Take a warning now by my downfall and beware of piracy

My parents raised me tenderly in the fear of God likewise
It was little they thought I would die in scorn beneath Cuba 's sunny skies

My father bound me to trade in Waterford's fair town
He bound me to a Cooper by the name of William Brown
I served my master faithfully for eighteen months or more
'Til I shipped on board of the Ocean Queen bound for Valparaiso's shore

I happened in Valparaiso to fall in with Captain Moore
He commanded a flying clipper barque sailing out of Baltimore
He asked me if I'd join with him on a slaving voyage to go
To the burning shores of Africa where the sugar cane do grow

We soon tossed o'er those briny waves and landed safe on shore
Five hundred of those poor men from their country homes we tore
And to toil in rice and sugar fields beneath a scorching sun
To work their wretched lives away until our career was run

And when the money it was all spent we came on board again
And Captain Moore called us on board and said to us his men
"There's gold and silver to be had if with me you'll remain
We'll run aloft a pirate flag and scour the Spanish main."

We all agreed but five bold youths who told us for to land
And two of them were Boston Boys, two more from Newfoundland
The other was an Irish lad belonging to Tramore
I wish to God we'd joined those men and went with them on shore

We robbed and plundered many's the ship down on the Spanish main
Left many's the little orphan in sorrow to complain
Which caused the crew to walk those planks that hung out over the rail
And the cruel saying of our captain was that dead men tell no tales

We were often chased by men-o'-war and flying frigates too
But to overhaul our bonny barque was a thing they could not do
We were chased by a Spanish man-o'-war a dungeon hove in view
And fired a shot across our bow a signal to heave to

We paid to them no answer we stood before the wind
When a chain shot struck our mizzen mast we soon then fell behind
We cleared our decks for action as she ranged up 'longside
And there beneath our quarter lay a strong and crimson tide

We fought 'til Captain Moore was killed and ninety of our men
When a bombshell caught our ship on fire we were forced to surrender then
We were taken prisoner and into prison cast
We were tried and then found guilty for to be hung at last

So fare you well sweet Waterford and the girl that I love there
Your voice like music soft and sweet I never more will hear
No more I press your ruby lips or kiss your lily-white hands
For it's on the gallows I must die for the love of the Spanish main

(Speaks) I left out-

Female voice: (speaks) That was great.

[Tape stops and starts]

Female voice: (speaks) You ready?

Flying Cloud was a clipper barque five hundred tons or more
She could easily sail round any those ships sailing out of Baltimore
I often saw that goodly ship with the wind abaft her beam
With garnsails and topsails taking sixteen from the reels

Her sails were white as the driven snow and on them were no speck
She has seventy-five brass mounted guns she carried them on her deck
With iron chains and magazines all safely stowed below
With a big long tom between her spars on a swivel it did go

(Speaks): Left out them two verses.


Sources: Mercer 122; Laws K28; Leach 156; Ryan 2; Peacock , 842; other variants in English, Greenleaf, Recorded by Newfoundland singer, Tommy Nemec,   on Tommy Nemec. Songs from the Cape BackCove, 2003. Roud 1802. Leach also collected a version from Alexander March of Port Au Port.

History: A ship known as the Flying Cloud, built in the mid 19 th century, was reknowned for its speedy transit from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn (Peacock,845). The ballad, however, seems to reference an earlier pirate ship.

Text notes:A famous account of a slave ship that turns pirate, eventually being defeated by a Spanish vessel. The crew of the Flying Cloud are executed.

Tune notes: Peacock collected two tunes, one of which he regarded as "superior." The two singers whom Leach recorded perform different tunes, though both have the phrase repetition pattern, abba, in 6/8 metre.

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