the poetry project: ballad

The Ballad of Roanoke Island

by JLB

We left England on a mighty ship

Driven by the wind, we rolled and dipped

Sailing ‘cross the ocean, westward ho!

Bound to start a colony and help it grow.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

Sir Walter was our sponsor, a wealthy man

Favored by the queen – she liked his plan.

He chose for us a leader; a man called White

We were not aware he’d lead us into a plight.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

A group had gone before us to the island fair

A man named Lane led the group there

Lane treated natives badly and killed many men

Not to mention women, and even children.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

White was good and not like Lane

He tried his hardest to keep us from pain.

But “accidents” happened from the very first day

Our sneaky captain made us purposely delayed.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

We lost one ship on the journey across,

The Hopewell thought that her sister was lost.

Then we ate poison food and drank bad water

And White’s daughter gave birth to his granddaughter.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

Dumped on the island by our captain foul

We were so cold and hungry we could eat an owl

Winter crept closer and we had no crops to tend

So White volunteered to sail back to England.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

We watched as his ship sailed far away

Hoping he’d return to us without delay

But much as he begged and hard as he tried

He couldn’t get the queen to send us supplies.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

So we stayed right here and nobody knows

What happened to us in the winter snows

All that we left when we went away for good

Were the letters “CRO” carved on some wood.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

So now we dwell in history

Surrounded by a mystery

No one knows where we went wrong

But we live on in story and song.

Sail away, sail away, to Roanoke land!

Pull up the anchor and wade to the sand.

Watch the Hopewell leave you there

You’ll never see her again, I swear.

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