Friday, December 23, 2016

The Sailor's Carol

The Sailor

"Noël ! Noël ! Noël ! Noël !
A Catholic tale have I to tell !
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

"I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pay detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

"May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël ! Noël ! Noël ! Noël !
May all my enemies go to hell !
Noël ! Noël !"

Grizzlebeard. "Rank blasphemy I said, and heresy, which is worse. For at Christmas we should in particular forgive our enemies."
The Sailor. "I do. This song is about those that do not forgive me."
The Poet. "And it is bad verse, like all the rest."
The Sailor. "Go drown yourself in milk and water; it is great, hefty howl-verse, as strong and meaty as that other of mine was lovely and be-winged."
Grizzlebeard. "What neither the Poet nor you seem to know, Sailor, is that the quarrels of versifiers are tedious to stand-by, so let us go into the Cricketers' Arms and eat as you say, in God's name, and occupy ourselves with something pleasanter than the disputed lyric."

~Hilaire Belloc: from The Four Men: A Farrago

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