Tom Bowling

Melody - & text: Charles Dibdin

Here, a sheer hulk, lies poor Tom Bowling,
The darling of our crew;
No more he'll hear the tempest howling,
For death has broach'd him to.
His form was of the manliest beauty,
His heart was kind and soft;
Faithful below, he did his duty,
|: And now he's gone aloft. :|

2. Tom never from his word departed,
His virtues were so rare,
His friends were many, and true-hearted,
His Poll was kind and fair:
And then he'd sing so blithe and jolly,
Ah, many's the time and oft!
But mirth is turned to melancholy,
|: For Tom is gone aloft. :|

3. Yet shall poor Tom find pleasant weather,
When He, who all commands,
Shall give, to call life's crew together,
The word to pipe all hands.
Thus Death, who kings and tars dispatches,
In vain Tom's life has doff'd,
For, though his body's under hatches,
|: His soul is gone aloft. :|

One of the best known and loved songs in the English language, 'Tom Bowling' was written by Charles Dibdin to honour the memory of his beloved elder brother Tom. Tom was twenty-nine years older than his more famous brother, Charles, and died at sea in India after the vessel of which he was the captain was struck by lightning. The song, originally known as 'Poor Tom Bowling' achieved an instantaneous popularity and has kept its freshness over the years largely because of the melody which sends Tom's soul winging to heaven at the end of each verse. The last four lines of the first verse were considered appropriate to be carved on Charles Dibdin's own tombstone.
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