Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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286                Music of the Waters.
poetical description)1 " so pale and wan and peaceful, that the very turbulence of crumpled foam which we leave behind us, and our noisy throbbing progress, seem a boister­ous intrusion upon sleeping Asia." It is with a scene like this before one on the silence of nature reigning around, that one can imagine the song " Nagareyama " rising from some of the idle becalmed vessels around ; if anything had been wanting to complete the weird effect, it would be found in this mournful, monotonous dirge-like tune, so suggestive of the calm that gave birth to it. A Japanese vessel at a time like this resembles Shelley's exquisite description of the " Boat on the Serchio " :—
" Our boat is asleep in Serchio's stream, Its sails are folded like thoughts in a dream, The helm sways idly, hither and thither."
Japanese sailors and fishermen, like those of every other nation, are great believers in the supernatural, and many strange customs, curious legends, and beliefs of sailor-lore are rife amongst them. Miss Bird says a fisherman never considers it lucky to meet a priest {bonze) on his way to his boat; it is considered lucky to dream of sailing in a ship. The Japanese have a tradition that their ancestors came from the skies in a boat, and another to the effect that fish are the embodiment of the souls of naval officers. Both Japanese and Chinese sailors consider it a good omen to cross the bows of a foreign vessel, and frequently give great trouble in crowded channels, and incur considerable danger from this cause.
Speaking of mermaids, Mr. Bassett, in his recently published book of " Legends and Superstitions of the Sea and of Sailors," says : " Japan is, however, the headquarters of these coy maidens." Here an old Dutch navigator obtained the first "veritable" mermaid, and they may still be procured of ingenious natives; numbers have been
1 " Unbeaten Tracks in Japan."

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