|In honor of POC: Dead Man's Chest!
||[Jun. 26th, 2006|02:14 pm]
Haven't posted in a while, and I'm not about to. Haha. Sorry. But I did want to take a little time to share this. I found it interesting! I'll update soon, I promise!
|By: Mike LaPointe
|Avast, ye scurvy scalawags and listen close, for I've a tale to tell. This here be a story that's risen straight from the depths of Davy Jones' locker, and I'll send ye there meself if ye don't heed my warnings. What I want ter tell ye about is the story of Dead Man's Chest, or more to the point, the legend behind the song ye know so well.
Many of ye landlubbers reckon it's just a song of the seas, shouted out in the drunken moonlight by persons such as meself. And while it is indeed performed in such a manner, it be far more than a simple shanty.
Time was, there was a great and famous privateer by the name of Edward Teach, but all knew him as Blackbeard. A terrible and frightening sight he was; when going into battle he would twist slow-burning coals into his great beard to put fear into those he reckoned his enemies. Blackbeard carried with him a great many weapons and dearly loved to employ them in combat. Claims of Blackbeard being possessed with nearly inhuman strength and a capacity for savagery, the legend of Blackbeard took firm root and spread terror throughout the Caribbean seas. As Captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard cut a swath of terror and villainy through the Caribbean Sea, the likes of which was without equal.
Legend has it that Blackbeard once shot his first mate, saying "If I didn't shoot one or two crewmen now and then, ye'd forget who I am." Despite this, he demanded and received fast loyalty from all those who sailed under him, for they knew that there were no others under whose employ they would profit nearly as much. Another legend is that once, perhaps after having had a bit too much to drink, Blackbeard closed himself and his crew inside the hold of his ship, filled numerous pots with brimstone and other combustible materials and said, "Come, let us make a Hell of our own, and try how long we can bear it." True to form, the last to emerge from the smoke-filled hold was Blackbeard, who came out bellowing, "I'm a better man than all ye milksops put together!"
From 1716 to 1718, Blackbeard developed a savage reputation for sacking and pillaging ships and coastal settlements throughout the Atlantic Coast and West Indies, looting with abandon and murdering all who offered resistance. His notoriety was compounded by a running duel against the HMS Scarborough, a 30-gun British man-of-war.
Further legend has it that Blackbeard marooned a shipload of mutineers on an island known as Dead Man's Chest (which earned its name through its resemblance to a floating coffin and is actually little more than a rock outcropping in Deadman's Bay on Peter Island, near Tortola), leaving them each a cutlass and a bottle of rum, assuming that the traitors would murder each other in a drunken brawl. Upon Blackbeard's return a month later, he was surprised to see that fifteen men had survived the grisly ordeal, which was memorialized in verse by Robert Louis Stevenson and expanded upon by Young E. Allison:
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike The bosun brained with a marlinespike And cookey's throat was marked belike It had been gripped by fingers ten; And there they lay, all good dead men Like break o'day in a boozing ken Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Fifteen men of the whole ship's list Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist! Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! The skipper lay with his nob in gore Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore And the scullion he was stabbed times four And there they lay, and the soggy skies Dripped down in up-staring eyes In murk sunset and foul sunrise Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Ten of the crew had the murder mark! Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! 'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead Or a yawing hole in a battered head And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes Looking up at paradise All souls bound just contrawise Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Fifteen men of 'em good and true Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Ev'ry man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! There was chest on chest of Spanish gold With a ton of plate in the middle hold And the cabins riot of stuff untold, And they lay there that took the plum With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb While we shared all by the rule of thumb, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
More was seen through a sternlight screen... Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum Chartings undoubt where a woman had been Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. 'Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot Oh was she wench or some shudderin' maid That dared the knife and took the blade By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight And we heaved 'em over and out of sight, With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Blackbeard met his demise is a naturally spectacular fashion; his ship Adventure was set upon by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy, at Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina. As a result of this epic battle, Lieutenant Maynerd emerged victorious, with Blackbeard having been shot five times and stabbed twenty more. In order to collect the 100-pound bounty on Blackbeard, Maynard was required to return with Blackbeard's head, which sailed hanging from the bowsprit on Maynard's ship as a warning to all that piracy was not a winning venture. During his career, Blackbeard claimed over forty ships, and his death marked the end of what many considered the Golden Age of Piracy. One final legend says that Blackbeard's headless body swam around Maynard's ship seven times before finally coming to rest and being claimed by the sea in an area now known as Teach's Hole.
So now, ye know the tale of Blackbeard and that cursed song. And as ye descend into the darkness to see the grim tableaus played out for your pleasure, remember this and remember well: Sometimes, dead men do tell tales.