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The Mariner's Revenge Song
The Decemberists Lyrics

We are two mariners
Our ships' sole survivors
In this belly of a whale
Its ribs are ceiling beams
Its 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 relay 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

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
Oh, oh, oh, oh

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

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management
Written by: Colin Meloy

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on specific lyrics, highlight them
Most interesting comment from YouTube:

Aperture Howerton

So, yeah. I'm running a Pirate DND campaign and I used this song as the basis for one of my longer Quest lines. The party Were placed in a Prison in Novistar(The capital of my world) and were down on their luck when they met a half elf by the name of Arthur Callaghan(Yes that is a Reference to Red Dead Redemption 2, but he was based nothing on Arthur.)The boy was in with the Guards and eventually he managed to get the PC's out of Jail by Bribing them. He had heard of The Pc's and wanted to ask them for passage on their Ship "The Primrose" to a little known settlement Known as the Kingdom of Stronghold. They accepted, On the condition that he help about the Ship when they needed a Extra pair of hands, And since we had a Paladin of Sune, and A Cleric of Uuta aboard they agreed to take him for free, with only that stipulation.

He had proven a capable Deckhand, however he had a strange habit of looking out into the sea while the Wind whistled about them... It seemed to be strangely hypnotic for the boy. Eventually one night The Pc's would awake to Arthur manning the Helm, Not unusual, however he had a very stern look upon his face. They seemed to be bearing down upon a ship, Their Ram poised to smash the ship the splinters. Our Wizard stopped him, Using Mage hand to Yank the Wheel from his grasp, however.... We did hit something.

Going Nearly 16 Knots(18 Mph) We Smacked hard into a Whale the likes of which no one had ever seen. It was Gargantuan, Letting out a massive moan it turned and Bit the ship we were chasing in twain, before turning... And Forcing the Primrose into the same fate. The Pc's alive, as was Arthur. The group was in a uproar, screaming at one another until something caught their attention. A man coughing loudly in the corner of the Whales belly. The man looked to be in his late thirties, Scars running all along his face, But Arthur Knew....

Our Cleric Ran to heal the Man, However Arthur Shouted out, telling him to stop. Long Story Short Arthur begged the Pc's to, at least let him explain himself, and Why he intended to Murder this Man. They Agreed. The Music Began. It started as a Lonely Guitar, One Arthur Always carried with him, Vibrating softly in the Belly of the Whale, But Eventually.... Other Instruments Joined in, And even his Mother's Ghost made a Guest appearance. The Dilemma was up to the Players. Allow this man his Revenge? Or Stop him, and try to talk him out of this Killing.

Sorry, it got so Wordy. Just wanted to tell this Awesome Story.

All comments from YouTube:

Piers Watson

My English teacher printed the lyrics to this song and tricked us into thinking it was an old poem


And i just love the lines, find him, bind him. So sinister, like sirens singing in a sweet deceptive voice.

Faith Alexandria Oglesby


Gabriel Liebowitz

early Decemberists was very literary... very traditionally "english" with motifs based on seafaring and hooligan culture. if i was gonna pull a sneaky on a class of high school students, i would use this band


Yeah, this song always reminds me of the rhyme of the ancient mariner 🙂


Your English teacher needs an award.

53 More Replies...

Joseph Corridon

This is hands down the best example of storytelling in a song I know. If any one knows of any better please tell me.

Gabriel Liebowitz

check out lifter puller from midwest and later band hold steady. very "narrative" but musical style

Israel Medrano

Dance with the devil - Immortal Technique. You absolutely have to listen to it if you haven't yet


using these comments as song suggestions

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