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Goodbye, little Robin-Marie
Don't try following me
Don't cry, little Robin-Marie
'Cause you know I'm coming home soon

My ships' leaving on a three-year tour
The next tide will take us from shore
Windlaced, gather in sail and spray
On a search for the mighty sperm whale

Fly your willow branches
Wrap your body round my soul
Lay down your reeds and drums on my soft sheets
There are years behind us reaching
To the place where hearts are beating
And I know you're the last true love I'll ever meet
And I know you're the last true love I'll ever meet

Starbuck's sharpening his harpoon
The black man is playing his tune
An old salt's sleeping his watch away
He'll be drunk again before noon

Three years sailing on bended knee
We found no whales in the sea
Don't cry, little Robin-Marie
'Cause we'll be in sight of land soon

Fly your willow branches
Wrap your body round my soul
Lay down your reeds and drums on my soft sheets
There are years behind us reaching
To the place where hearts are beating
And I know you're the last true love I'll ever meet
And I know you're the last true love I'll ever meet



Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/mountain/nantucket_sleigh_ride.html

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  • U
    +1
    Unregistered2 days ago at 8:10 am
    Given that willows,reeds and drums seem to stem from folklore,is it possible that "Sweet Robin Marie" was (or partly) of native American origin? Just a thought.Also, perhaps "Reeds and Drums" were pretty much the easiest musical instruments to manufacture with the raw materials available on a whaling station in the mid 1800's.
  • U
    +1
    UnregisteredJun 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    Nantucket sleighride is dedicated to owen coffin who was cabin boy aboard the whaler essex, which was destroyed by a sperm whale in 1819. Owen ended up in the lifeboat with captain pollard, his uncle. Two other lifeboats also put out. During the next 3 - 4 months, the lifeboats separated. One was never seen again, but some of those on the remaining two boats were eventually rescued. During those long months at sea (and on desert islands), many of the men died. The remainder eventually had to resort to cannibalism to survive. After the dead of natural causes were consumed, the men determined to draw lots to see who would sacrifice his life for the others. Owen coffin ``won'' the lottery. The captain tried to take owen's place, but the youth insisted on his ``right''. The executioner was also drawn by lot. That ``winner'', another young man named charles ramsdell, also tried vainly to swap places with owen. Again he refused. Owen's body kept the others alive for ten days (captain pollard refused to eat his nephew). Another man died, and his body kept pollard and ramsdell alive a few more days until they were rescued.

    Read "in the heart of the sea" by nathaniel philbrick. The story of the essex was the direct inspiration for herman melville's "moby dick. "
  • U
    +1
    UnregisteredJan 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm
    A man's need for true love does not keep him from his destiny but helps to change his view of it's importance.
  • c
    +1
    crm114Oct 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm
    Windlaced - either a reference to a rigging form that would be configured to change the attitude of a sail in relation to wind strength and direction or a corruption of windlass the device used to configure the sails and rigging.

    Willow figures often in mythology and folklore, the ancient greeks would place willow branches in the beds of infertile woman in an attempt to reverse the condition, here perhaps a reference to the sweetheart being left on shore.

    Reeds and drums - not sure about the drums but willow reeds (branches) are associated with dreams which ties in with the soft sheets , not a nantucket whaler would possess sheets. Grief is also associated with the willow - reference again to Robin-Marie
  • p
    +1
    packratApr 3, 2010 at 10:48 am
    Mostly straightforward - a Nantucket Sleighride happens when a (sperm) whale pulls a whaling boat through the water after the whale has been harpooned. The song focuses on a sailor leaving (presumably Nantucket) on a whaling voyage (first two verses and first chorus), out at sea on the voyage (third verse), and returning home (fourth verse and second chorus).

    The song leans partly on Moby Dick, the story of a whaler out of Nantucket, which had a black first mate called Starbuck.

    Much of the imagery is hard to unpick, and I would be interested to know anyone's thoughts.
    Windlaced?
    Reeds and drums? - why these musical instruments?
    The significance of willow branches?

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