Keep it simple silly,
said ol’ captain Billy,
as he walked towards the shore,
telling lores of the yore.
They was stuck in a gale,
with no dough nor ale,
when they Frenchmen stopped their vessel.
Sailors squealed like weasels –
some bargained for their freedom,
others jumped in the ocean.
There were Indians and Yankees
and them young British dandies,
trying to conjure French whims
that will save their brethren’s skins.
“Ahoy there! Ce qui est le matière?
What brings ye here in this ungodly weather?”
“Dieu merci, this man knows français!
Priez, quel est le chemin de la France d’ici?”
All they wanted from us sailors…
Was a map from tither to France!
They took with them an atlas;
left me a golden cutlass,
& unto us, a year load of rum barrels
that saw my shipmates dance –
‘Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest’
Boy that day they sang at their hoarse best!
Bestowed with navy laurels,
dressed in garbs from finest tailors,
I now stood in front ranks.
Captain, was I –
with doubloons in pliant banks!
“So my son, ye see,”
said ol’ Captain billy –
“Today i be no different billy,
than that which says keep it simple silly!”
Captain Billy is now aging and likes to tell stories of voyages that he undertook as a young sailor. In this anecdote, he illustrates the importance of keeping things simple and uncomplicated. He is American by descent. Those days, America (circa late 1700s) was a British Colony (reference : Wiki). He was a young mate on a British ship bound for England. This ship was caught in a thunderstorm. Their supplies were nearly exhausted, when a French ship accosted them. It was also the time of the French revolution and its infamous Guillotine. The Britishers aboard and American hands alike were terrified of the consequences. Some of them (mostly Americans) started thinking of ways to strike a bargain for their lives while the British jumped in the ocean (choosing an honourable death than at the hands of the French).
Captain Billy, a young shipmate then, paused and thought amid the chaos. Before jumping to conclusions of death by Guillotine, he thought it wise to ask the purpose of the Frenchmen in accosting their ship. He went up the mast and hollered in some little French he knew, “Ahoy there! What’s the matter?” The French Captain breathed a sigh of relief. Atlast someone knew French and could help him find his way back to France in the heavy storm! They just wanted to ask directions!!! (Poor fellas – those who jumped in the sea 😛 )
They gave young Billy a golden cutlass as a souvenir and left a year full of rum barrels for the sailors. When the ship reached England safe and sound, Billy was promoted to the rank of a Captain. Over the years, with his simplicity and directness, Captain Billy gathered a fortune in the those banks which had very less red tape in catering to their clients. 😉
Even now through his tales, he says that simplicity is the key to success.
You may find that the mixture of pirate/sailor slang, American slang, archaic English and contemporary English makes this poem lag a bit in continuity of language like Shahrukh’s dialogues in Ra.One 😛 Please bear.