A-Roving (aka Maid of Amsterdam)

A widely sung and probably very old pump shanty – there are Dutch, Flemish and French versions.  Hugill tells us that, like many shanties sung at the pumps, as on board technology changed and old fashioned windlass levers and pump brakes were replaced by capstans and Downton pumps, so the rhythm of the song had to be altered. He complains that the song is often now sung much too fast!

A- rovin


In Amsterdam there lived a maid,
Mark well what I do say,
In Amsterdam there lived a maid
And she was mistress of her trade.


I'll go no more a roving with you fair maid
A-roving, a-roving
Since roving's been my rue-I-ay
I'll go no more a-roving with you fair maid.


One night I crept from my abode
To meet this fair maid down the road.


I met this fair maid after dark
An' took her to her favorite park


I put me arm around her waist
Sez she, "Young man yer in great haste!"


I put me hand upon her knee,
Sez she, "Young man, yer rather free!"


I put my hand upon her thigh,
Sez she, "Young man, yer awful high!"


I towed her to the Maiden's Breast,
From south the wind veered wes'sou'west [sou'sou'west].


An' the eyes in her head turned east an' west,
And her thoughts wuz as deep as an ol' sea-chest.


We had a drink -- of grub a snatch
We sent two bottles down the hatch


Her dainty arms were white as milk,
Her lovely hair was soft as silk.


Her heart was poundin' like a drum
Her lips wuz red as any plum.


We laid down on a grassy patch,
An' I felt like such a ruddy ass.


She pushed me over on my back,
She laughed so hard her lips did crack.


She swore that she'd be true to me,
But spent me pay-day fast and free.


In three weeks time I wuz badly bent
Then off to sea I sadly went.


In a bloodboat Yank bound round Cape Horn,
Me boots an' clothes wuz all in pawn.


Bound round Cape Stiff through ice and snow
An' up the coast of Callyo.


An' then back to the Liverpool Docks,
Saltpetre stowed in our boots an' socks.


Now when I got back home from sea,
A soldier had her on his knee.