The crocodile

by Benjamin Britten

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The crocodile
English source: Anon.

Now listen you landsmen unto me,
To tell you the truth I’m bound,
What happened to me by going to sea,
And the wonders that I found:
Shipwrecked I was once off Perouse,
And cast upon the shore,
So then I did resolve to roam,
The country to explore.

To my rit fal lal li bollem tit! To my rit fal lal li dee!
To my rit fal lal li bollem tit! To my rit fal lal li dee!

’Twas far I had not scouted out
When close alongside the ocean
I saw something move which at first I thought
Was all the world in motion;
But steering up close alongside
I found ’twas a crocodile;
And from his nose to the tip of his tail
He measured five hundred mile.

’Twas a crocodile, I plainly could see
He was not of a common race,
For I was obliged to climb a high tree
Before I could see his face;
And when he lifted up his jaw
Though perhaps you may think ’tis a lie,
He reached above the clouds for miles three score,
And almost touched the sky.

While up aloft the wind was high,
It blew a gale from the south.
I lost my hold and away did fly
Right into the crocodile’s mouth.
He quickly closed his jaws on me,
And thought he’d got a victim,
But I ran down his throat, d’ye see?
And that’s the way I tricked him.

I travelled on for a month or two,
Till I got into his maw,
Where I found of rum-kegs not a few,
And a thousand fat bullocks in store.
Of life I banished all my care,
For of food I was not stinted,
And in this crocodile I lived ten years
And very well contented.

This crocodile being very old,
One day, alas he died.
He was ten long years a-getting cold,
He was so long and wide.
His skin was eight miles thick, I’m sure,
Or very near about,
For I was full ten years or more
A-cutting my way out.

And now I am once more got on earth
I’ve vowed no more to roam,
In a ship that passed I got a berth,
And now I’m safe at home.
And if my story you should doubt,
Should you ever travel the Nile,
It’s ten to one you’ll find the shell
Of the wonderful crocodile.


Benjamin Britten

Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music,…



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