Oh, Mr. Cobeau
DESCRIPTION: Alternate lines are a chorus, "Mr Cobeau want to kill out a we picking." The shantyman sings: The dog comes and sniffs the dead whale and the shark comes to eat it. It's so rotten that both get a headache, but Cobeau takes it anyway. "Please bring back"
EARLIEST DATE: 1974 (Abrahams-WIShanties)
KEYWORDS: work sea shanty whale whaler children
FOUND IN: West Indies(St Vincent)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Abrahams-WIShanties, pp. 108-109, "Oh, Mr. Cobeau" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [81 words]: "Mr Cobeau" is probably from "corbeau," French for raven; according to Abrahams, in St Vincent it is the black vulture. "John Crow" in Jamaica is the turkey vulture.
In this case, the "cobeau" is a whaler that is second on the scene and takes a whale that this crew harpooned first. "Picking" has a double meaning according to Abrahams: first, the "picking" is the catch; second, the "picking" is a standin for "pickney," that is, "child" or "children" from whom food is being taken. - BS
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