Pirates have often been accused of being illiterate, ignorant thugs whose only interests were rum, booty (spell that gold, silver, and pieces of eight), and booty (spell that hot babes), but that simply is not true. Okay, on some ships it was, but if you sailed with Captain Benjamin Hornigold, William Kidd, or Thomas Tew, you had better know your stuff.
The fact is, navigators had to chart their course literally by the stars, and unlike sailors today didn’t have the guess work taken out of a tedious and dangerous journey by GPS equipment and computers. That’s not to take away from the modern sailor who still must be an expert to bring a ship safely into harbor; it’s just that these ancient sailors had to be so knowledgeable and skilled, that common sailors referred to them as Artisans.
I’ve compiled a small tribute to pirates and mariners whether they graduated from the Yale of their day, or never saw the inside of a classroom. I hope Hornigold, Kidd and Tew approve. Maybe even today’s sailors will see a little something of themselves in this “Verse”-a-tile poem.
A is for anchor pirates throw out in a storm.
B is for booty, just the thought keeps me warm.
C is for cannons that boom and then blast
It’s also for slow crew who move just half fast.
D is for the ever-dangerous Davy Jones;
He lies in the ocean ready to rattle your bones.
E is for every able-bodied sailor at sea.
There’s hardly a port that they’d rather not be.
F is for flags and the pirates who fly ‘em.
They’ll steal yours if they can,
Cause they’ll never once buy ‘em.
G is for gibbets that cage rotting bodies;
Soon only vultures will think Pirates are hotties.
H is for harbor and halyard and hammock;
Sleep in one too long, and you’ll want a bed,
Oh, by damn it!
I is for island where wenches are waiting;
The bawdiest ones get the highest of ratings.
J is for journeys that surely must end;
With endless horizons, it’s just hard to say when.
K is for Kraken, a horrible beast;
He loves salty sailors as good as roast beef.
L is for lighthouse that shines out at sea;
For centuries it’s filled sailors’ hearts with great glee.
M is for marooned pirates abandoned on shore
With a dram of hot rum and a rusty, old sword.
- is for New Providence, the wickedest city on earth.
Here pirates are promised rum, women, and mirth.
O is for overboard when the plank is withdrawn.
Better be a good swimmer,
Cuz ye could be swimmin’ till dawn.
P is for plunder and pieces of eight
Spent on wenches and rum,
You know I can’t wait.
Q is for quarters, and none will be given;
Best fight to the death; ain’t no time to be quittin’.
R is for rum or a wanton sea rover.
On ship or in port, ain’t one that is sober.
S is for shipwrecks, but it could be for sin;
pirates are naughty wherever they’ve been.
T is for treasure. I blew mine in port
Gamblin’ and wenchin’ and rum by the quart.
U is for Uncommon Mariners at sea,
Far from all land, they’re just thrilled to be free.
V is for vaporing pirates who curse;
Resist and they’ll turn you into
Dainty hors d’oeuvres.
W is for shipwrecked with me nothing to wear;
And all I can think of it’s Five O’clock Somewhere.
X marks the spot where pirates their treasure did bury,
After feasting and gambling and making all merry.
Y is for yawl, a small vessel afloat,
In South Carolina, they call it a boat.
Z is for zero; it’s what’s left of me booty;
I spent it in bars, romancing the Cuties.
The Uncommon Mariner