Rolling Down to Old Maui

Fo’c’sle Song


It’s a damned tough life, full of toil and strife we whale-men undergo.
And we don’t give a damn when the gale has stopped how hard the wind did blow.
We’re homeward bound! ‘Tis a grand old sound on a good ship taut and free,
And we don’t give a damn when we drink our rum with the girls on old Maui.

Rolling down to old Maui, my boys, rolling down to old Maui.
We’re homeward bound from the arctic ground, rolling down to old Maui.

Once more we sail with a northerly gale through the ice and sleet and rain.
And them coconut fronds in them tropic lands we soon shall see again.
Six hellish months we’ve passed away in the cold Kamchatka sea,
And now we’re bound from the arctic ground, rolling down to old Maui. (Chorus)

We’ll heave the lead where old Diamondhead looms up on old Oahu.
Our mast and yards are sheathed with ice and our decks are hid from view.
The horrid tiles of the sea-cut ice that deck the Arctic Sea
Are miles behind in the frozen wind since we steered for old Maui. (Chorus)

How soft the breeze of the tropic seas, now the ice is far astern,
And them native maids in them island glades are awaiting our return.
Even now their big black eyes look out hoping some fine day to see
Our baggy sails running ‘fore the gales, rolling down to old Maui. (Chorus)

And now we sail with a favoring gale towards our island home.
Our mainmast sprung, our whaling done, and we ain’t got far to roam.
Our stuns’l booms are carried away, what care we for that sound?
A living gale is after us, thank God we’re homeward bound! (Chorus)

And now we’re anchored in the bay with the Kanakas all around
With chants and soft aloha oes they greet us homeward bound.
And now ashore we’ll have good fun we’ll paint them beaches red
Awaking in the arms of a wahine with a big fat aching head. (Chorus)


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Song Notes

a peninsula in E Russia, between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.

(esp. in Hawaii) a native Hawaiian
[ETYMOLOGY: 19th Century: from Hawaiian: man, human being]

Borrowed from Maori and Hawaiian wahine (“woman”), from Proto-Polynesian *fafine.

Joanna Colcord, in her book Songs of American Sailormen, says that Maui was then pronounced “MO-hee.”  She classifies the work as a foc’sle song.