OH, England is a pleasant place for them that â€™s rich and high; But England is a cruel place for such poor folks as I; And such a port for mariners I neâ€™er shall see again, As the pleasant Isle of AvÃ¨s, beside the Spanish main.
There were forty craft in AvÃ¨s that were both swift and stout, All furnishâ€™d well with small arms and cannons round about; And a thousand men in AvÃ¨s made laws so fair and free To choose their valiant captains and obey them loyally.
Thence we sailâ€™d against the Spaniard with his hoards of plate and gold, Which he wrung by cruel tortures from the Indian folk of old; Likewise the merchant captains, with hearts as hard as stone, Which flog men and keelhaul them and starve them to the bone.
Oh, the palms grew high in AvÃ¨s and fruits that shone like gold, And the colibris and parrots they were gorgeous to behold; And the negro maids to AvÃ¨s from bondage fast did flee, To welcome gallant sailors a sweeping in from sea.
Oh, sweet it was in AvÃ¨s to hear the landward breeze A-swing with good tobacco in a net between the trees, With a negro lass to fan you while you listenâ€™d to the roar Of the breakers on the reef outside that never touched the shore.
But Scripture saith, an ending to all fine things must be, So the Kingâ€™s ships sailâ€™d on AvÃ¨s and quite put down were we. All day we fought like bulldogs, but they burst the booms at night; And I fled in a piragua sore wounded from the fight.
Nine days I floated starving, and a negro lass beside, Till for all I tried to cheer her, the poor young thing she died; But as I lay a gasping a Bristol sail came by, And brought me home to England here to beg until I die. And now I â€™m old and going I â€™m sure I canâ€™t tell where; One comfort is, this worldâ€™s so hard I canâ€™t be worse off there: If I might but be a sea-dove I â€™d fly across the main, To the pleasant Isle of AvÃ¨s, to look at it once again.