Why I Don’t Observe “Talk Like a Pirate Day”

If you’re not familiar with International Talk Like a Pirate Day, consider yourself lucky. The original intention was for this to be a parodic holiday. It started in 1995 by a couple of pirate performers in Oregon. It began as an inside joke between the two friends but developed a following over time. The holiday stems from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. Most of the images for Parody Pirates comes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel “Treasure Island.” The vernacular became popular in the 1950’s with actor Robert Newton who portrayed many pirate characters but most notable Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film “Treasure Island.”

I don’t participate in this fun holiday because I don’t like the Parody Pirate Culture. It’s not my jam. I’d rather be a real pirate. I enjoy sea shanties of the sailor’s life and they give a true depiction of how sailors in those times spoke. I have nothing against anyone who participates in Parody Pirate Culture and I think children enjoy it. Feel no shame if it’s something you enjoy doing. I personally chose to be a different kind of pirate. The kind that drinks rum and avoids common folk. I do like mermaids. Anyway, here are the lyrics to one version of the sea shanty “Blow the Man Down.”

“Blow the Man Down” was a phrase used by sailors meaning to punch someone and knock them out.

Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
And please pay attention and listen to me, 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

I’m a deep-water sailor just in from Hong Kong, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
if you’ll give me some grog, I’ll sing you a song, 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

‘Twas on a Black Baller I first served my time, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime, 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
You’d split your sides laughing at the sites that you see. 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

With the tinkers and tailors and soldiers and all 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
That ship for prime seaman on board a Black Ball. 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

‘Tis when a Black Baller is clear of the land, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
Our Boatswain then gives us the word of command 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

“Lay aft,” is the cry, “to the break of the Poop”! 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot! 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

‘Tis larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
For “Kicking Jack” Williams commands the Black Ball. 
Give me some time to blow the man down. 

Pay attention to order, now you one and all, 
to my way haye, blow the man down, 
For right there above you flies the Black Ball. 
Give me some time to blow the man down.

Throwback Thursday Poetry: The Evil Tlea of the South Sea

the Sun shown bright upon the sea
it glistened and sparkled with glee
but near twilight it said to me
as i sat in my boat with three
“I bid you goodnight as I leave,
and warn you of the evil Tlea!
A creature of death that is He.
Your demise; by him it will be!”
the Sun’s grave warning we did heed
we sat perplexed, what did he mean
while He sank, we heard a strange scream
miles from home, the land of Smeeth
lost in thought of the evil Tlea
our death; by him would surely be

we sailed away on our wee boat
slowly losing all sense of hope
no land to see within my scope
we drifted on, we didn’t know
where we were or which way to go
the Moon called to us, “You there, Ho!
To be free, faster you must row.
Those pure of heart will make it home,
if you are not, Hell you will roam!”
another warning, this is so
but we still have not seen our foe
all these cautions but a no show
is this all real, how do we know
Tlea will not keep us from home

a noise rang out across the sea
the Moon had gone, too dark to see
“Who here wishes to pass by me?”
a cold, rough voice called from beneath
“To pass one must first be received,
by the great and all mighty Tlea!”
“Forgive us!”, i called out to He
“Did not mean to disturb your sleep!”
“You there the booming one who speaks,
I foresee your future is bleak.
Tonight your life I’ll take from Thee!”
“DO NOT TAKE ME!!”, i beg and plead
by morning the boat held just three
thanks to Tlea of the dark South Sea

Early poetry from James. From the poetry collection Pariah Bound: The Lonesome Poetry.