10,000 Miles Away

Sing ho for a brave and a gallant ship with a fair and favoring breeze
With a bully crew and a captain too to carry me over the seas
To carry me over the seas me boys 
to my true love far away
I’m taking a trip on a Government ship ten thousand miles away

(chorus, repeat after each verse)
Then blow, ye winds and blow and a roving I will go
I’ll stay no more on England’s shore and hear the music play
For I’m off on the morning train and I won’t be back again
I’m taking a trip on a government ship ten thousand miles away

My true love she was beautiful my true love she was young
Her eyes were like two diamonds bright and silver was her tongue
And silver was her tongue my boys and though she’s far away
I’ll ne’er forget me own true love ten thousand miles away

Now dark and dismal was the day when last I saw my Meg
She’d an iron band around each hand and another one round her leg
Another one round her leg and as they hauled my love away
“Adieu,” said she, “remember me ten thousand miles away”

I wish I was a sailor bold, a bosun or bombardier
I’d build a boat and away I’d float and straight for me true love steer
And straight for me true love steer my boys where the dancing dolphins play
Where the whales and sharks are having their larks ten thousand miles away

Oh, the sun may shine through the London fog or the river Thames run clear
The ocean brine turn into wine or I forget my beer
Or I forget my beer my boys or how to spend my pay
Before I forget me own true love ten thousand miles away


What did societies do with convicted criminals in the past? I found out while spending a jolly afternoon touring the old prison of Nottingham (yes, the one in Robin Hood), which is now a museum claiming to be “Nottingham’s premier visitor attraction.” Until fairly recently, few societies had the resources to house convicts in prison for any length of time. This left a few unpleasant choices: execution by an astonishing variety of methods; corporal punishments such as flogging; and temporary or permanent penal transportation.

From the early 1600’s to the late 1800’s, England sent many convicted criminals off to penal colonies in the Americas and, especially after the United States won its independence, to Australia. Depending on the severity of your crime, you might be allowed back home after serving your sentence or you might be sent away forever.

This old chantey tells the story of a man who is volunteering to be transported to Australia to be reunited with his true love, who has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay just South of where the city of Sydney is today.

Suggestions for the Classroom:
The Common Core, along with most state history standards, call upon students to use primary source materials when possible; old folk songs are a great way to get some perspectives of common people who may not have had the time, resources, or education to keep a journal. Songs like this one probably won’t add much factual knowledge of events, but may give your students a sense of how “regular” people perceived the historical events they lived thorough.

Here are some standards from the Common Core addressed by this song:

Middle School:

  • RI.HSS.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • RI.HSS.6-8.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • RI.HSS.6-8.6: Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
  • RI.HSS.6-8.8: Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Guitar Chords:
C, F, Am, G7, G. Note that I do this a cappella since it’s a sea chantey, but those are the chords I used for the arrangement and there’s no reason you can’t play it that way if you like.