Song or Story
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Westbrook, ME; recorded in Franklin, ME
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"Old Horse" is an old sea song (dating at least back to the 1830s, and probably long before that) that expresses sailors' dissatisfaction with the quality of their food.
“Old horse, old horse, what brings you here,
From Saccarap’ to Portland pier?”
“I’ve carted stone for many a year,
‘Til now worn out by sore abuse,
I’m salted down for sailors’ use.
Between the mainmast and the pumps,
I’m salted down in great big lumps;
They curse my eyes and pick my bones,
And throw the rest to Davy Jones.”
Poor old horse!
Westbrook, Old Horse, sailor, sea song, food, salt beef, salt horse, harness cask, The Sailor’s Grace, Robert French, Richard Henry Dana Jr., Maine, Saccarap’, Saccarappa, Portland, Davy Jones, song
Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy and Mary Winslow Smyth. Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1927, 223-26; Dana, Richard Henry, Jr. Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative. Scituate, MA: Digital Scanning, Inc., 2001, 338; Eloise Hubbard. Folk Songs of Old New England. New York: MacMillan Co., 1939, 142-44 includes this Maine version as learned in Massachusetts; and Doerflinger, William Main.Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman. New York: MacMillan, 1972 which includes “Old Horse” with a chorus as the “E” version of “Blow the Man Down” (21-22) and “The Sailor’s Grace” (160).
Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
French, Robert. 1962. “Old Horse.” NA331, CD6.11. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.