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"The Mariner's Revenge Song" Lyrics

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We are two mariners
Our ship's sole survivors
In this belly of a whale
It's ribs are ceiling beams
It's guts are carpeting
I guess we have some time to kill

You may not remember me
I was a child of three
And you, a lad of eighteen
But, I remember you
And I will relate to you
How our histories interweave
At the time you were
A rake and a roustabout
Spending all your money
On the whores and hounds
(Oh, oh)

You had a charming air
All cheap and debonair
My widowed mother found so sweet
And so she took you in
Her sheets still warm with him
Now filled with filth and foul disease
As time wore on you proved
A debt-ridden drunken mess
Leaving my mother
A poor consumptive wretch
(Oh, oh)

And then you disappeared
Your gambling arrears
The only thing you left behind
And then the magistrate
Reclaimed our small estate
And my poor mother lost her mind
Then, one day in spring
My dear sweet mother died
But, before she did
I took her hand as she, dying, cried:
(Oh, oh)

"Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave"

It took me fifteen years
To swallow all my tears
Among the urchins in the street
Until a priory
Took pity and hired me
To keep their vestry nice and neat
But, never once in the employ
Of these holy men
Did I ever, once turn my mind
From the thought of revenge
(Oh, oh)

One night I overheard
The prior exchanging words
With a penitent whaler from the sea
The captain of his ship
Who matched you toe to tip
Was known for wanton cruelty
The following day
I shipped to sea
With a privateer
And in the whistle
Of the wind
I could almost hear
(Oh, oh)

"Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave

There is one thing I must say to you
As you sail across the sea
Always, your mother will watch over you
As you avenge this wicked deed"

And then, that fateful night
We had you in our sight
After twenty months at sea
Your starboard flank abeam
I was getting my muskets clean
When came this rumbling from beneath
The ocean shook
The sky went black
And the captain quailed
And before us grew
The angry jaws
Of a giant whale


Don't know how I survived
The crew all was chewed alive
I must have slipped between his teeth
But, oh, what providence
What divine intelligence
That you should survive
As well as me
It gives my heart great joy
To see your eyes fill with fear
So lean in close
And I will whisper
The last words you'll hear
(Oh, oh)
  • submitted by Disarmingbeautyx on February 5th, 2005
  • corrected on June 13th, 2012
  • written by Colin Meloy
  • copyright with Lyrics © Bmg Rights Management Us, Llc

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  •  guest says:
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     tsarminblack says:
    Like 022-04-2011 06:32
    it's rime. rime of the ancient mariner. like ice. but it's not directly related to it, no. it's just the decemberists' canon.

    a great song for singing malevolently under your breath while contemplating your own scenes of revenge... XD. whether or not it's related to any other works, i love how literary their lyrics are.
     MFAD says:
    Like 020-05-2009 04:12
    There's A Film-maker in Peoria IL Who's working with the Decemberists making this song into a movie.
    He's filming it in Austrailia.
    UH... Fucking Awesome.
    I can't wait.
     packy says:
    Like 001-03-2007 06:47
    one of the reasons I really like the Decemberists, other than their great variety of instrumentation is the fact that a lot of their songs are stories rather than like, sappy the world hates me, a girl broke my heart things a lot of their songs are just folk-lore. An entire album (The Tain) is just that! they're the shiz-nit
     Jigsaw says:
    Like 021-01-2007 13:24
    This song is really amazing. So it's great it's almost 9 minutes XP
     stormxmoon says:
    Like 002-11-2006 04:21
    i comepletely disagree with the idea that this song is based on the poem the rhyme of the ancienct mariner. I haven't read the poem in about 3 years, but i fi remember correctly the poem was about a man killing an albatross and being on a ship as all his crewmates died of hunger or thirst and he lived because he was cursed or something along those lines, not about a man seeking revenge on his wronged mother by a whaler. Just because the titles are similar doesn't mean the message and the poem/song are similar. however it is an excellent story as is the rhyme of the ancient mariner, and well worth listening too.
     benharperlee says:
    Like 023-10-2006 16:18
    It seems obvious to me that this is inspired by Coleridge's famous poem; but I was wondering, are there any other literary minded people out there who think they see connections as well? Prove it.
    Like 024-01-2006 00:08
    now this, is a story worth listening to.
     Stephiie says:
    Like 019-12-2005 03:54
    One of their best songs, I absolutely love it.
     emankcin says:
    Like 019-11-2005 17:34
    In the sailor-esque bit there *is* a tuba.
    It's hard to hear but it's on every beat of the timpani. The tuba is more obvious at the end of the song. Think of it as the bass.

    This song is a legend!
    "Find him, bind him" really gets stuck in your head.
     hcakes says:
    Like 002-09-2005 18:16
    Ya, that comment about the Seattle Mariners AND this song *are* hilarious. That a kid who's vowed revenge on an asshole ex-boyfriend of his mother's who caused her to get consumption AND go insane AND die should end up in the belly of a whale with the object of his life-long revenge fantasy is maudlin melodrama at its finest. If the over-dramatic lyrics don't tip you off, that overwrought, brilliant slowly-sped-up-for-affect klezmatic ending should. Rock it, Decemberists.
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