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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Music of the Waters.             359
was unnatural, being coloured. Religion, or superstition if you will, interposed to mitigate the horrors of a perfervid fancy, wrought familiar appearances into celestial expres­sions, and instructed poor Jack to calm his perturbed soul, to quell the tempest, to exorcise the mermaid, to smooth the waters, to disperse the horrid shadows of the electric storm with litanies, effigies of saints, and spells of many different sorts. Thus Pirard de Laval (in ' Churchill's Collection of Voyages,' vol. i., p. 702) says,' We frequently saw great whirlwinds rising at a distance, called by the seamen dragons, which shatter and overturn any ship that falls in their way. When these appear, the sailors have a superstitious custom of repairing to the prow, or the side that lies next the storm, and beating naked swords against one another crosswise.' This custom long prevailed, scores of similar practices may be traced to the primitive superstitions of sailors. They unquestionably colour the old marine life, and their extinction leaves the calling un­comfortably bald, I think. The stars in those aged stories seem to glow the richer tor the incense floating up to them from the little altar on the forecastle, and for the tender strains of a hundred voices rising in some solemn melo­dious canticle :—
''' The night is calm and cloudless,
And still as still can be, And the stars come forth to listen
To the music of the sea. They gather, and gather, and gather,
Until they crowd the sky, And listen in breathless silence
To the solemn litany. It begins in rocky caverns
As a voice that chants alone To the pedals of the organ
In monotonous undertone ; And anon from shelving beaches
And shallow Fands beyond,







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