Blood Red Roses

Stan Hugill says that this appears to be a British shanty, probably derived from a song about Napoleon and the British soldiers “redcoats” or “blood red roses” as they were called on account of their red jackets. (There are, of course, other theories about what the words blood red roses refer to). Hugill also tells us it was a halyard song and very popular on Liverpool ships and on Yankee ships. It probably dates from the early part of the 19th Century.

Blood Red Roses

Our boots and clothes are all in pawn
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.
And its flamin' drafty 'round Cape Horn,
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.

Oh, you pinks and posies,
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.

My dear old mother said to me,
My dearest son, come home from sea.

It's 'round Cape Horn we all must go
'Round Cape Horn in the frost and snow.

You've got your advance, and to sea you'll go
To chase them whales through the frost and snow.

It's 'round Cape Horn you've got to go,
For that is where them whalefish blow.

It's groan you may, but go you must,
If you groan too much your head they'll bust.

I thought I heard the old man say

“Give her one good pull and then belay!”
 
Just one more pull and that will do
For we're the boys to kick her through.