Words by Isabella Rocha
Dark, Death, words of despair
Heaven,Light, words of repair
Gloomy, Dismal, words of sadness
Friends, Family, words of happiness
The Ballad of King William’s Skull by Erin Scanga
I shall tell ye of the wretched ship we sailed for fourteen years.
We laughed, we fought, we plundered, and we wept our bitter tears.
The world was so much younger back in 1702.
I lived a life of comfort, but there wasn’t much to do.
So I went down to the docks there and I played some merry tunes.
And then, one day, I saw James there, his eyes as wide as moons.
“Dear Samuel’s dead!” he cried out, spewing bitterness and scorn.
“I know not what to do now, nothing’s left to do but mourn.”
My brainpan started rattling, and I thought then of our state.
My life would change, right there and then, on that unimportant date.
“Let’s leave this place,” I told him, “Let’s live our lives in crime.”
(I was disgusted by my notions, but I’d thought it for some time.)
And so we boarded the ship of old, our dear King William’s Skull.
To our surprise there were no men, only women above the hull.
I almost turned back then and there, disgusted even more.
And then the Captain found us, that blasted, bloody --------.
She wore men’s clothes, like everyone,
And a velvet bicorne hat.
Her hair was long and black as ink,
A little like a cat.
“What have we here?” she said with a grin that made my blood start to boil.
I explained our situation, and her spitefulness recoiled.
“I am a great lover of music,” she said, looking at the sky.
“If you could be our bards, then I don’t have to let you die.”
Lucky for us, we both played cittern, and we loved music as well.
And that, my friend, is how we started those long years of pirate hell.
We soon arrived in the New World under a beautiful blue sky.
The market had all kinds of strange foods for sale, but none so caught my eye
As the two fish-men who laid there, trapped inside a net,
Looking at us with fear as if we’d made some kind of threat.
We couldn’t leave them there to rot,
So we came up with a ruse.
James told their seller a tale dark and hot,
And I cut the mermaids loose.
One was a sharp-clawed siren who could’ve eaten us alive.
His voice rang out from the deep dark blue, and he helped us to survive.
The other had a man’s upper body, and the tentacles of a squid.
He was a curious man, a musician, and a farmer, so he’s said.
They thanked us and had to repay us,
So on the King William they stayed,
And that, my friend, is the story of how our great friendship was made.
The years passed by, through the winters and springs,
We’d seen the world and all manners of things.
Though times were unsettled; a riot was nigh.
A storm slowly brewed under King William’s sky.
James had married our captain,
Though he had a wife back at home.
(He had a son too, I remember,
and by now he should be grown.)
The squid climbed into the crow’s nest,
As he watched the rising moon.
I went and watched it with him,
Though it ended much too soon.
The Captain, my God, how she faltered!
How she endangered us all without thought!
And that, my friend, is the moment the mutineers began their plot.
I dueled our dreaded Captain, and we tied James to the mast.
Oh, how our spirits burned that day, the anger out at last!
She thrust her sword towards my chest; I dropped mine with a clang.
And there and then, the wretched wench sentenced us to hang.
That night we all were restless with the prospect of my death.
When sunrise came, I stood there with the rope tied ‘round my neck.
But the Captain’s heart had softened, and the death bells did not chime.
She said, “Ye blasted mutineers, I’ll let you off this time.”
I fell to the ground and thanked the Gods as the dreaded rope came loose,
But for every one of us that day, we’d tightened a different noose.
The ship was shaken violently by our act of jealous hate.
And that, my friend, is how the King William finally met her fate.
She went out not with a ‘bang’ nor ‘boom’ as she sailed her final trip
She died with the calm of the crashing waves on the rocky beach’s lip.
And here I stand now wondering what’s become of all my friends.
No one ever tells you when the glory days shall end.
Yet out of my memories she rises, she lives again once more!
And there I am in the crow’s nest, content to see the shore!
My friends are all there with me; we’ve no bitterness nor pain
And that, my friend, is how we’ll take our glory once again!