River Chanty

(1950)

"River Chanty" is a song from Kurt Weill's unfinished musical Huckleberry Finn or Raft on the River.

River Chanty
Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson


Watch the toehead over to larboard,
Mark three, quarterless three.
Watch that snag now over to starboard,
Half Twain, quarterless twain.


Now we’re sliding, stern’s coming ‘round,
Miss that bar where the Mississippi Lady went a-ground,
Ride us easy, easy river.
Mark Twain, quarter twain, quarterless twain, mark twain!


Where you been, river,
Where you goin’ today?
What you bringin’ me, river, river,
What you taking away?


What you bringin’ me, river, river,
What you taking away?


Ride us easy, father of waters,
Easy, whispering River.
Ride us easy, easy, whispering Mississippi,
Whispering, easy, whispering…


Here’s snow from the high Sierras,
Here’s cloud from Soo San Marie.
Here springs from the roofs of the ranges,
Washing down to the sea.


What towns you been drowning, river,
What lands adding on today?
What you bringin’ me, river, river,
What you taking away?


Here’s water from glacier mountains,
Here’s water from lakes and plains.
The world’s longest drink of water
From God only knows what rains.


Who you been stealing from, river,
Who you been friendin’ today?
What you bringin’ me, river, river,
What you taking away?


Watch the toehead over to larboard,
Mark three, quarterless three.
Watch that snag now over to starboard,
Half Twain, quarterless twain.
Quarter twain, quarterless twain, mark twain.


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