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The Liverpool Bookshelf

The following are the lyrics to the songs found on side one of the record album Swallow the Anchor by The Liverpool Fishermen. You will sometimes find notes below the lyrics explaining terms and locations mentioned in the songs. To see the lyrics for the songs found on side two, please follow this link.



Swallow the Anchor
written by Brian Jacques

Oh swallow the anchor,
you're a sea going fool!
Swallow the anchor,
keep your feet in Liverpool
keep your feet in Liverpool.

You started quite young
on the Isle of Man Steamships.
Then when you were older,
you went for the deep sea trips.

White Star, Blue Funnel, P&O--
to me they're all the same.
you spend your poke and come home broke
then go to sea again!

Oh swallow the anchor,
you're a sea going fool!
Swallow the anchor,
keep your feet in Liverpool
keep your feet in Liverpool.

Steer clear of the merchant navy,
rip up your old pay book
all those good discharges,
they aren't worth a second look!

Stay out of tramps and whalers,
leave the liberty ships alone!
There's not a rivet in them,
you might never make it home!

Oh swallow the anchor,
you're a sea going fool!
Swallow the anchor,
keep your feet in Liverpool
keep your feet in Liverpool.

A man at sea is a good A.B.
because it's all he knows!
The pavement streets is not the same
as the deck beneath your toes!

Forget the wife, the sea's your life,
alone there in your kip.
You're no good to a woman
when you're married to a ship!

Oh swallow the anchor,
you're a sea going fool!
Swallow the anchor,
keep your feet in Liverpool
keep your feet in Liverpool.

Stay out of Sydney Harbour,
and don't go near Port Said.
Take the kids on the ferry boat,
as far as Birkenhead.

It's no good when you're sixty
with salt water in your shoes,
and all you've got to show for it
is an armful of tattoos!

Oh swallow the anchor,
you're a sea going fool!
Swallow the anchor,
keep your feet in Liverpool
keep your feet in Liverpool! HOI!

Notes -

  • Isle of Man -- a British Crown dependency, located in the Irish Sea at the geographical center of the British Isles.
  • White Star -- a famous shipping line, of which the Titanic was part, that called Liverpool home.
  • Blue Funnel -- another famous shipping line out of Liverpool.
  • P&O -- Peninsular and Oriental, another shipping line and once the largest in the world.
  • Port Said -- a city in Egypt near the Suez Canal.
  • Birkenhead -- a town on the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite Liverpool.


Maggie May

O gather round, you sailor boys, and listen to me plea.
And when you've heard me tale you'll pity me!
For I was a goddamn fool, in the port of Liverpool,
the first time that I came home from sea.

We got paid off at the Home, from the port of Sierra Leone,
and four pound ten a month, it was me pay.
With a pocket full of tin, I was very soon taken in by
a girl with the name of Maggie May.

Oh, Maggie, Maggie May, they've taken her away
and she'll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed too many sailors,
and the captains of the whalers.
That dirty robbing no-good Maggie May.

Now, I always will remember when I first met Maggie May,
she was cruising up and down old Canning Place.
She'd a figure so divine, like a frigate of the line,
so me, being a sailor, I gave chase.

Next morning I awoke, I was flat & stony broke.
No jacket, trouse & dresscoat could I find.
When I mentioned this to her, she said, "Me very dear sir,
they're down in Kelly's knock in number 9."

Oh, Maggie, Maggie May, they've taken her away,
and she'll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed too many sailors,
and the captains of the whalers.
That dirty robbing no-good Maggie May.

To the pawnshop I did go, no clothes there did I find,
and a policeman came and took that girl away.
Now the jury guilty found her,
of robbing a homeward-bounder,
And paid her passage round to Botany Bay.

Oh, Maggie, Maggie May, they've taken her away,
and she'll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed too many sailors,
and the captains of the whalers,
That dirty robbing no-good Maggie May!

Notes -

  • Lime Street -- a street in Liverpool created in 1790, whose most famous feature is the Lime Street Station.


Foggy Dew

It was down the glen one Easter morn,
to a city fair rode I.
There were [???] lines of marching men,
in squadrons passed me by.

No fife did hum, no battle drum
did sound its dread tattoo.
But the Angelus Bells,
o'er the Liffey swell.
rung out into the foggy dew.

Right proudly high over Dublin Town,
they hung out the flag of war.
It was better to die 'neath an Irish sky
than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar.

And from the plains of Royal Meath,
strong men came hurrying through.
While Britannia's sons,
with their long range guns,
sailed in through the foggy dew.

'Twas Britannia bade us wild geese go,
that "strong nations might be free".
But their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
or a shore of the great North Sea.

Oh, had they died by Pearse's side
or fought with Cathal Brugha,
their names we would keep
where the Fenians sleep,
'neath the shroud of the foggy dew.

But the bravest fell, and the Requiem bell
rung mournfully and clear.
For those who died that Eastertide
in the springing of the year.

And the world did gaze,in deep amaze,
at those fearless men, but few,
who fought their fight, that freedom's light
might shine through the foggy dew!

Notes -

  • [???] -- Indistinct lyric. Traditionally "armed" or "Irish", sounds like "Ett" (eight?).
  • Liffey -- a river in the Republic of Ireland that flows through the center of Dublin.
  • Suvla -- a bay on the Aegean coast of the Gallipoli peninsula. On August 6th, 1915 it was the landing site of the British IX Corps as part of the August Offensive during the Battle of Gallipoli.
  • Sud-El-Bar -- a village at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula. Landing site for two Irish battallions on April 25, 1915 during the Battle of Gallipoli.
  • Royal Meath -- a county in the Republic of Ireland, sometimes called "The Royal County".
  • Wild Geese -- a term used in Irish history to describe Irish soldiers who served in continental European armies.
  • Pearse's side -- Patrick Henry Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Uprising in 1916. Was executed along with his brother and fourteen others. Came to be seen as the embodiment of the rebellion.
  • Cathal Brugha -- an Irish revolutionary who was active during the Easter Uprising.
  • Fenians -- term used since the 1850s for Irish nationalists who oppose British rule in Ireland.


Yate's White's Blues
written by Brian Jacques

Intoxicating liquor I've consumed for many years,
slowly pickling me innards,
in the draught and bottled beers.
Brandy, whisky, gin and rum
have filled me with delight,
but I got d.t.'s and tremblin' knees
from Sweet Australian White.

The Irish may drink Porter
and of whisky, Jock will reek
and a Taffy will drink anything
then nip out for a leek,
and down the south of England
the Cider is alright,
but the hardest stuff, it's bloody rough
is Sweet Australian White.

It's wild and sweet and indiscreet
in samples or in docks,
and it makes you feel like your ould head
was stuffed wid granite rocks.
So rise to the occasion,
an' you're headed for a fall,
you'll climb up pavements ten feet high,
fight scuffers three feet tall.

The Irish may drink Porter
and of whisky, Jock will reek
and Taffy will drink anything
then nip out for a leek,
and down the south of England
the Cider is alright,
but the hardest stuff, it's bloody rough
is Sweet Australian White.

So drink your first one in small sips,
you'll find it tastes alright.
Now knock your second one right back,
you're gettin' to like the white.
At the third, the barmaid's got three heads,
she's hoverin' over the door.
At the fourth you'll think "who's nailed
the bloody ceiling to the floor!"

The Irish may drink Porter
and of whisky, Jock will reek
a Taffy will drink anything
then nip out for a leek,
and down the south of England
the Cider is alright,
but the hardest stuff, it's bloody rough
is Sweet Australian White.

And when you wake in Cheapside
and the sergeant says you've been
charged with the mug and plate act
of eighteen canteen--
it's gonna cost yer two pound ten
for drunk and refusin' to fight
and they call this jail the 'Billiard room'.
'cos you're in off the white!

The Irish may drink Porter
and of whisky, Jock will reek
a Taffy will drink anything
then nip out for a leek,
and down the south of England
the Cider is alright,
but the hardest stuff, it's bloody rough
is Sweet Australian White!



The Ould Triangle
written by Brendan Behan

A hungry feeling came o'er me stealing,
and the mice were squealing in me prison cell--

And the ould triangle, went jingle jangle
all along the banks of the Royal Canal.

And to begin the morning, the screw came bawling,
"Ah, get up there [???] and clean your cell!"

And the ould triangle, went jingle jangle
all along the banks of the Royal Canal.

And the screw came creeping, and the lag lay sleeping
He was dreaming of his gal, Sal.

And the ould triangle, went jingle jangle
all along the banks of the Royal Canal.

Up in that female prison, there are seventy-nine women
and amongst them I wish I could dwell!

And the ould triangle, would go jingle jangle
all along the banks of the Royal Canal!

Notes -

  • [???] -- Indistinct lyric. Traditionally "bowsie" or "you". Sounds like "yatesy".


Home Boys Home

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Well, he wouldn't be a sailor lad, a-sailing on the main,
to gain the good will of his captain's good name!
I came ashore there one evening for to see,
that was the beginning of me own true love and me!

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Well, I asked her for a candle, to light me up to bed,
and likewise for a handkerchief, to tie around me head.
She tended to me needs, like a young maid ought to do.
Then I asked her would she'd like to livin' with me too!

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Well, she jumped into bed, making no alarm,
thinking a young sailor lad could do to her no harm.
I hugged her and I kissed her the whole night strong,
till she wished the short night had been seven years long!

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Oh well early next morning, the sailor lad arose,
and into Mary's apron threw a handful of gold.
Saying, "Take this, me dear, for the mischief I have done.
Tonight I fear I left you with a daughter or a son!"

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Ah well, if it be a girl child, send her off to nurse,
with gold in her pocket and silver in her purse.
But if it be a boy child, he'll wear a jacket blue
and go climbing up the rigging like his daddy used to do!

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

Well, come all you young maidens, and listen unto me!
Never trust a sailor lad an inch above your knee!
'cause I trusted one, and he beguiled me,
and he left me with a pair of twins to dangle on me knee!

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Country.

And it's home, boys, home-- TWO! THREE!
Home, I'd like to be home for a while, in me own country.
Where the oak and the ash and the bonnie rowan tree
are all growing greener in the North Countryyyyy!






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