Australian Folk Songs
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 Maggie May

Oh come along all you sailor boys and listen to my plea
And when I am finished you'll agree
I was a goddamned fool in the port of Liverpool
The first time that I came home from sea
We was paid off at The Hove from a port called Sydney Cove
And two pound ten a month was all my pay
Oh I started drinking gin and was neatly taken in
By a little girl they all called Maggie May

Oh Maggie, Maggie May they have taken you away
To slave upon that cold Van Diemen shore
Oh you robbed so many sailors and dosed so many whalers
You'll never cruise down Lime Street any more

Twas a damned unlucky day when I first met Maggie May
She was cruising up and down old Canning Place
Oh she had a figure fine as a warship of the line
And me being a sailor I gave chase
In the morning when I woke stiff and sore and stoney broke
No , trousers, coat, or waistcoat could I find
The landlady said 'Sir I can tell you where they are
They'll be down in Stanley's hock-shop number nine'

To the bobby on his beat at the corner of the street
To him I went to him I told my tail
He asked me as if in doubt 'Does your mother know you're out?'
But agreed the lady ought to be in jail
To the hock-shop I did go but no trousers there I spied
So the bobbies came and took the girl away
The jury guilty found her for robbing a homeward bounder
And paid her passage out to Botany Bay


John Manifold in his Penguin Australian Song Book writes "A foc'sle song of Liverpool origin apparently, but immensely popular among seamen all over the world. This version comes chiefly from Geoff Wills". Stan Hugill in his Shanties from the Seven Seas writes of an early reference to the song in the diary of Charles Picknell a sailor on the convict ship 'Kains' which sailed to Van Diemens Land in 1830


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory