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The Islands

Ralph McTell
Language: English



We do not fear the long ships, we've seen long ships before
Men sailed here from the north land and hauled their boats ashore
They brought with them the music, the language and the law
And burned their boats and stayed here on the islands.

It's midday in the wintertime before the moon does pale
The winter songs are very long, the storm winds and the gales
The midnight sun's as distant as the ca’ing of the whales
Till spring returns and comes to paint the islands.

The grey seals and the otter, the salmon and the charr
The land bound and the sea trapped, the free birds of the air
The shepherd and the farmer and all those in their care
Harmonise the music of the islands.

We never feared the long ships till the coming of the "Braer"
The roaring sea in anger beat that broken boat ashore
Spilled fuel enough to take that ship twice round the world or more
And filled the air with oil to paint the islands.

As if the sea had realised the tragedy in store
Its waves continued pounding about a week or more
Most of the crude was washed away and never came ashore
The sea regained its temper round the islands.

Oh let this be a warning to those whose faceless greed
Would sail close to the shoreline to save both fuel and speed
The sea is our protector, provider of our needs
A jealous guard and keeper of the islands.


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