THE ADMIRAL (©Words and Music by Paul F. Cowlan)

This is the sequel to ‘Room With a View’ (‘Walking to the Moon’: Brambus 1995 71-2) For years there was a mysterious silhouette in an Amsterdam window, which used to excercise my overheated imagination. It’s recent disappearance has had the same effect.


The Admiral has gone to sail the Seven Seas,
with a storm-glass full of crystals, and a chart across his knees;
and the Southern Trades will carry him from all that he believes.
Just when you thought he’d settled down. The Admiral has gone.

The window frame is empty, the door-plate has no name,
but the nights and days keep passing and the stars still look the same;
and the neighbours shake their heads and say he should have stayed at home,
An old man ought to know when the time has come. But the Admiral has gone.

However far you travel you’ll never sight his sail.
He may glimpse you through his spyglass as he bends before the gale;
but the compass in the binnacle is spinning like a flail,
and the memories are rising to a storm. The Admiral has gone.

The Admiral has gone, beyond the sunset’s fire,
to the islands of Anthilla and the Land of Heart’s Desire.
He has shaken off his shoulder bones, to sail the seven skies.
That’s what happens to a sailor, so they say, every time he dies.