The Keeper of ThePlymouth
Eddystone Light

Traditional Song 

 

 

Popularised by the folk singer Burl Ives, this Sea Shantie was written for the building of the fourth Eddystone Rocks lighthouse. Civil engineer John Smeaton built the lighthouse between 1756 and 1759 using interlocking stone dovetailing construction to resist the forces of the sea.

The stone tower survived for 127 years before cracks at the base required a new Lighthouse. The Smeaton stone lighthouse was dismantled and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe.

The Keeper of the Eddystone Light
 
Me father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light,
And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
Out of this union there came three,
A porpoise and a porgy, and the other was me!
 
Chorus
With a yo-ho-ho, let the wind blow free,
It’s all for the life on the rolling sea!
 
One night, as I was a-trimmin’ the glim
And singing a verse from the evening hymn
I see by the light of me binnacle lamp,
Me kind old father lookin’ jolly and damp.
 
Chorus
With a yo-ho-ho, let the wind blow free,
It’s all for the life on the rolling sea!
 
A voice from starboard shouted, “Ahoy!”
And there was me mother sittin’ on a buoy
Meanin’ a bouy for ships what sail,
And not a boy what’s a juvenile male.
 
Chorus
With a yo-ho-ho, let the wind blow free
It’s all for the life on the rolling sea!
 
“Well, what became of me children three?”
Me mother then she asked of me.
Well, one was exhibited as a talking fish,
The other was served as a savory dish.
 
Chorus
With a yo-ho-ho, let the wind blow free
It’s all for the life on the rolling sea!
 
The phosphorous flashed in her seaweed hair
I looked again and me mother wasn’t there,
But her voice came echoing out of the night,
“To hell with the keeper of the Eddystone Light!”
 
Chorus
With a yo-ho-ho, let the wind blow free,
It’s all for the life on the rolling sea! 
 

Note: ‘glim’ is an Old English word meaning a source of light such as a candle or oil lamp; 'porgy' is a Cornish word for a sea bream fish. 

English Heritage Membership - Join here:

english heritage leader 468x60