Words by April Grant (c) 2015
Tune: Traditional (“The Lish Young Buy-A-Broom”)
When we were out a-fishing, a silver boat we found,
The top was made of crystal, flat and smooth and round.
We pulled it to the shore, its nature for to tell,
Inside was a maiden who stepped out alive and well.
Sail away, sail away, little maiden, sail away,
May you find the shore that you seek one day!
Her hair looked like feathers, and her eyes were blue and wild,
She stood just as tall as a six-year-old child.
She wore three robes, and the outer one was gold,
And her ship was packed with dainties, as full as it could hold.
She looked me in my face and she chirped like a bird,
I know she asked a question but I couldn’t catch a word.
So then we brought our scholar, who wrote words by hand,
And she answered him with nonsense that she scribbled in the sand.
If the Emperor knew this, we would all be killed,
But we gave her plums and rice and saw her water filled.
Then the maiden got back in and we put the lid back on,
She waved me to push her out, and then she was gone.
Based on the Japanese legend of the Utsuro-bune (literally “hollow ship”) which is reported in quasi-historical books as having appeared in 1803, in the ocean off Hitachi province, Japan.
More info and context here.
“The Hollow Ship” sung by me.