Haul on the Bowline

DESCRIPTION: Shanty. Characteristic line: "Haul on the bowline, the bowline haul!" The lyrics may relate to the singer's friendship with Kitty in Liverpool (or elsewhere), or perhaps complain about a sailor's life.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1869
KEYWORDS: shanty nonballad sailor
FOUND IN: US(MA,NE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (19 citations):
Doerflinger, pp. 9-10, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 75-76, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Colcord, pp. 42-43, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 95-96, "Haul the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 354-357, "Haul the Bowline" (2 texts, 2 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 266-269]
Sharp-EFC, XXXVII, p. 42, "Haul on the Bow-line" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 139-140, "Haul the Bowline" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 167, "Haul on the Bo'line" (1 text, 1 tune)
GreigDuncan1 1, "Haul Away Your Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-BoA, p. 131, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 12-13, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Smith/Hatt, p. 33, "Haul the Alabama Bowline" (1 text)
Bone, pp. 38-39, "Haul on th' Bowlin'" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Terry-Shanty1, #29, "We;ll haul the bowlin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Shay-SeaSongs, p. 27, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, p. 310, "Haul on the Bowlin'" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 87, "Haul on the Bowline" (1 text)
DT, HAULBWLN* HAULBWL2*
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Haul the Bowline" is in Part 3, 7/28/1917, one verse only.

Roud #652
RECORDINGS:
Joseph Hyson, "Haul the Alabama Bowline" (on NovaScotia1)
Richard Maitland, "Haul the Bowline" (AFS, 1939; on LC26)
Stanley Slade & chorus: "Haul On the Bowlin'" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741)

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Haul Away the Bowline
NOTES: Doerflinger says of this song, "Its unusual antiquity is shown by the fact that not since the sixteenth or early seventeenth century has the term 'bowline' been used for any rope on which a shanty would be sung."
Bone makes this statement even stronger; "'Haul on th' bowlin'... is probablly the oldest song we know at sea. The bowline has not been an important rope since, in about 1500, staysails were put in use to hold a ship on a wind. Before that date, the bowline was doutbless of stout cordage to haul the weather leech of a square-sail forward when the old carrack was sailing with the wind abeam. But, although a bowline of sorts was used in modern square rig, it could be set taut by a hand or two."
The above statements are true if the bowline is indeed a rope (and it would normally be a rope that is hauled). We might mention however that a bowline is also "a quick method of putting a temporary eye in the end of a rope, such as a hawser, or a line passed round a man working over the side. Two hands are required" (Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, A Seaman's Pocket Book, London, June 1943, designed for sailors newly taken into the Royal Navy in World War II; (I use the 2006 MJF Books edition), p. 49). So perhaps to haul on a bowline is to haul on something secured by a bowlne knot?
Linscott claims, without citing a source, that it "is said to have been a favorite in the time of Henry VIII" (1509-1547). Shay reports the same, again without a source. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.8
File: Doe009b

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