Behind the Design: the Nantucket Girl's Song

Posted by Claire Murray on

This evocative rather tongue-in-cheek poem was found in the journal of Eliza Brock who was the wife of Master Peter Brock on a whaling trip onboard the Lexington from 1853 to 1856 off the coast of New Zealand.  While at anchor, she visited with other mariner's wives and added this to her journal which contains 85 poems and anecdotes. She credited it to Martha Ford, a physician's wife, but it is unknown if Martha was the true author.

Claire pays homage to the poem by including imagery from the poem's artwork as well as her own signature icons - the siren, the tall ship and the lighthouse.

I have made up my mind now to be a Sailor’s wife,
To have a purse full of money and a very easy life,
For a clever sailor husband is so seldom at his home,
That his wife can spend the dollars with a will that’s all her own,
Then I’ll haste to wed a sailor, and send him off to sea,
For a life of independence is the pleasant life for me,
But every now and then I shall like to see his face,
For it always seemes to me to beam with manly grace,
With his brow so nobly open, and his dark and kindly eye,
Oh my heart beats fondly towards him whenever he is nigh,
But when he says Goodbye my love, I’m off across the sea
First I cry for his departure, then laugh because I’m free,
Yet I’ll welcome him most gladly, whenever he returnes
And share with him so cheerfully all the money that he earns
For he’s a loving Husband, though he leads a roving life
And well I know how good it is to be a Sailor’s Wife.

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