Moonlight Boating

by Johnny Handle

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Ease the throttle, bring her round,
Sailing through a foreign land.
There's only me in the wide, wide world,
As we go moonlight boating.

By the cut, sitting in a bar,
Never a care, a song and a jar
Closing time and we feel just right,
Let's go boating through the night

5tars scattered through the velvet sky,
Harvest moon with a friendly eye,
The whole night beckons, soft and slow,
Up with the moorings and off we go.

But the stove is warm, and the crew well oiled,
Soon doze off, it's been a full days toil,
Leaving me with the countryside,
A mystery world as the ripples slide

Down the towpath, by the bend.
Shuffling by, an evening friend,
Badger nods, and wanders on,
Sleek fur glistening in the moon.

By the cornfield's silver blades,
Each one still, sculpture made,
Hedges stretch a net of lace,
Sleeping creatures in their place

Looming down, the trees seem tall.
And then an old familiar call,
Silent wings, a flash of white,
Hoot of the barn owl, king of the night.

Long sharp ears, and lifted nose,
Rabbit in the mouth, off he goes,
No frightened fox, he feels all right,
We're just comrades, stealing the night.

Just me and the stars, tiller in me hand,
Winding through a magic land,
The Milky Way's come down to ride,
Like sparkling dew on the countryside

Soon, too quickly, just round here,
The flight is coming, soon be near,
Softly rope her down all right,
I've been captain of the whole wide night.

Ease the throttle, bring her round,
Sailing through a foreign land,
There's only me in the wide, wide world,
As we go midnight boating.

I am indebted to Johnny Handle who has taken the time to provide me with printed copies of his canal songs. Johnny has written many songs, mainly about coal mining and his native north-east of England - an area deprived of canals. More details of Johnny Handle's work can be found on his website and Pete Wood has recently (2017) written his biography.