Monday, 18 February 2013

Drei Segelmann

Lowry refers to the song in his novel Ultramarine when Dana and Popplereuter are on their drunken drift around Dairen sing several songs including Drei Segelmann; We sang. We sang Drei Segelmann, which I don't know, but I joined in the chorus. We sang Mademoiselle from Armentières, Deutschland uber Alles, and Lisa; For He's A Jolly Good Fellow, and God Save The King; Lisa again, and The Bastard King of England, with which Popplereuter was unfamiliar..." (Pg. 89). Lowry later refers to the song in the 1940 Under The Volcano; "He began to sing: "Drei Segelmann, drei Segelmann ( Pg 368).

Lowry's memory of the song probably relates to his visit to Germany in 1928 which he recall in letter to Clemens ten Holder dated 23rd April 1951:"were celebrating the defeat of Essen Verein at hockey, I having played inside left for Bonn Verein, a refrain that went, every now and then: Zwei null! we having defeated them 2-0. Also there was another song to the refrain Drei Segelmann (Collected Letters Vol 2 Pg 375).

To date, no German song has been identified called Drei Segelmann. The title of the song translates in Lowry's poor German as 'sail man' which is probably incorrect. Lowry could have possibly Germanicised a sea shanty called We be Sailors Three by Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723):

We be sailors three,
Pardonnez moi je vous au prie
Lately come forth of the Low Country
With never a penny of money

Here good fellows, I drink to thee,
Pardonnez moi je vous au prie
To all good fellows where-ever they be
With never a penny of money.   (Chorus)
And he that will not pledge me this,
Pardonnez moi je vous au prie
Pays for the shot, whatever it is,
With never a penny of money.  (Chorus)

Charge it again, boys, charge it again,
Pardonnez moi je vous au prie
As long as you've got any ink in your pen
With never a penny of money (Chorus)

Further sea shanties/songs relating to three sailors are discussed here.

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