NS24: Anchor song

This is another Bellamy arrangement of Kipling. The poem’s something of a tour de force in the sheer quantity of technical vocabulary that it manages to cram in, mostly but not exclusively in the odd-numbered verses; the ‘surface’ of the poem is at once off-putting and fascinating (“handsome to the cat-head now…”). The poet who this effect most puts me in mind of is W. H. Auden, of all people; I wonder if he ever acknowledged Kipling as an influence.

I haven’t been able to find any commentary on the poem. What seems to be going on is the launching of a small ship; the sail is unfurled in the first verse, after which attention switches to cables (I think) in the third, the eponymous anchor in the fifth and the wheel in the seventh. The terminology looks genuine, but I suspect it’s a bit overdone for effect; would anyone say “Up, well up the fluke of her!” when they could say “Raise the anchor”?

The tune is Bellamy’s; he took it at a similar pace. It’s an absolute sod to learn; even after I’d memorised it I had to sing it through several times before I was word-perfect. This recording was done in one take.

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Filed under not a folk song, Peter Bellamy, Rudyard Kipling

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