BALLAD OF YARMOUTH CASTLE
As recorded Gordon Lightfoot 1969
Well, it's four o'clock in the afternoon
The anchors have been weighed
>From Miami to Nassau
She's bound across the waves.
She's a-headin' south through Biscayne Bay
Into the open sea
Yarmouth Castle, she's a-dyin' and don't know it.
Now the many years she's been to sea
She's seen the better times
She gives a groan of protest
As they cast away her lines.
And the grumble of her engines
And the rust along her spine
Tells the Castle she's too old to be sailing.
But the sands run out within her heart.
A tiny spark glows red
It smolders through the evening
There's laughter overhead.
Now the dinner's served and the cards are dealt
And the drinks are passed around
Deep within the fire starts a-burnin'.
Now it's midnight on the open sea
And the moon is shinin' bright
Some people join the party
And others say goodnight.
There's many who are sleepin' now
It's been a busy day
And a tiny wisp of smoke is a-risin'.
"Oh Lord," she groans, "I'm burnin'!"
"Let someone understand"
But her silent plea is wasted
In the playin' of the band.
Everybody's dancin' on the deck
And they're havin' such a time
Then a voice says "Shut up and deal, I'm losin'".
Deep within the Yarmouth Castle
The fire begins to glow
It leaps into the hallways
And climbs and twists and grows.
And the paint she wore to keep her young
Oh Lord, how well it burns
And soon that old fire is a-ragin'.
Well beneath the bridge, it's climbin' fast
The captain stands aloft
He calls up to the bosin
Says "Bosin, we are lost".
For the ragged hoses in the racks
No pressure do they hold
And the people down below will soon be dyin'.
All amidships, oh she's blazin' now
It's spreadin' fore and aft
The people are a-scramblin'
As the fire blocks their path.
The evil smoke surrounds them
And they're falling in their tracks
And the captain in his lifeboat is a-leavin'.
Oh then the ship, Bahama Star
Comes steamin' through the night
She sees the Castle blazin'
And 'tis a terrible sight.
"Jump down, jump down" the captain cries
"We'll save you if we can"
And the paint on his funnels is a-fryin'.
"God help the ones who sleep below
And cannot find their way
Thank God for those we've rescued
Upon this awful day".
Now the heroes, they are many
But the times are growin' slim
And now from stern to bow she's a-blazin'.
Oh the Yarmouth Castle's moanin'
She's cryin' like a child
You can hear her if you listen
Above the roar so wild.
Is she cryin' for the ones who lie
Within her molten sides
Or cryin' for herself, I'm a-wonderin'.
But the livin' soon were rescued
The ones who lived to tell
And from the Star they watched her
As she died there in the swells.
Like a toy ship on a millpond
She burned all through the night
Then slipped beneath the waves in the mornin'.
(Transcribed by David Story - April 2013)