14 - Broadside

Words by © Nancy Kerr
Tune by © Nancy Kerr, John Smith, Martin Simpson

Nancy Kerr's lyrics draw loosely on the account of the 1593 meeting of Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley/Gráinne Ní Mháille and Queen Elizabeth I. Grace is believed to have carried herself in that meeting with the dignity of a queen meeting an equal, refusing to bow or accept the title of countess.

The song was written in 2014 as part of The Elizabethan Session, commissioned by Folk by the Oak and the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Nancy has kindly given us permission to reproduce the lyrics here.

Keep your land you gentry of England, France and Spain
For there’s nothing like dominion of the water
From the rocky coast of Kerry to the bloody Spanish Main
It’s the best thing you can ever teach your daughter

Broadside to broadside, two captains collide
Queen of the spheres and queen of the tide
Regalia and rebellion go sailing side by side
Haul away, sister, haul away

Plunder men for treasure, and never heed their blows
For there’s nothing given freely to a woman
Be generous to friendship and lavish to your foes
Then pirate queens may share the seas in common

Broadside to broadside, two captains collide…

For blows will make you weary and marriage make a slave
You’d be better on the sea like brave O’Malley
And when that gallant vessel goes a rolling on the wave
Be sure you’re on the deck not in the galley

Broadside to broadside, two captains collide…