“The Alarmed Skipper (The Nantucket Skipper)”

Alternate titles: “The Ballad of the Alarmed Skipper”
Author: James Thomas Fields
Earliest date: 1845 (_Scientific American_)
Keywords: talltale ship trick gardening humorous
Found in: US


Claims that Nantucket skippers were able to tell where their ships are by tasting the sounding lead. A sailor plays a trick by running the lead through a box of parsnips; the skipper thinks that Nantucket has sunk and they're sailing over a garden.


Definitely not a folk song; it's included in a couple of song collections as a gag. But it is a popular poem; _Granger's Index to Poetry_ lists the piece in three anthologies apart from Shay. - RBW


  1. Harlow, pp. 192-194, "The Nantucket Skipper" (1 text)
  2. Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 198-199, "The Nantucket Skipper" (1 text)
  3. ADDITIONAL: Scientific American, volume 1, number 4 (1845), "The Ballad of the Alarmed Skipper" (1 text)
  4. Roud #9172
  5. BI, ShaSS198