Burial-Party by John Masefield

by John Masefield  (1902) 

"He's deader 'n nails," the fo'c's'le said, "'n' gone to his long sleep;"
"'N' about his corp," said Tom to Dan, "dye think his corp'll keep
Till the day's done, 'n' the work's through, 'n' the ebb's upon the neap?"

"He's deader 'n nails," said Dan to Tom, "'n' I wish his sperrit j'y;
He spat straight 'n' he steered true, but listen to me, say I,
Take 'n' cover 'n' bury him now, 'n' I'll take 'n' tell you why.

"It's a rummy rig of a guffy's yarn, 'n' the juice of a rummy note,
But if you buries a corp at night, it takes 'n' keeps afloat,
For its bloody soul's afraid o' the dark 'n' sticks within the throat.

"'N' all the night till the grey o' the dawn the dead 'un has to swim
With a blue 'n' beastly Will o' the Wisp a-burnin' over him,
With a herring, maybe, a-scoffin' a toe or a shark a-chewin' a limb.

"'N' all the night the shiverin' corp it has to swim the sea,
With its shudderin' soul inside the throat (where a soul's no right to be),
Till the sky's grey 'n' the dawn's clear, 'n' then the sperrit's free.

"Now Joe was a man was right as rain. I'm sort of sore for Joe.
'N' if we bury him durin' the day, his soul can take 'n' go;
So we'll dump his corp when the bell strikes 'n' we can get below.

"I'd fairly hate for him to swim in a blue 'n' beastly light,
With his shudderin' soul inside of him a-feelin' the fishes bite,

So over he goes at noon, say I, 'n' he shall sleep to-night."

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