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A traditional shanty the earliest reference of which seems to be in the 1879, this piece was popularized in its current form by A.L. Lloyd in 1956 based on a transcription by Doerflinger in 1951, who had found it in a sailor's manuscript dated 1893.

Though widely believed to refer to the welts from a flogging, there is no actual academic consensus on the meaning of blood red roses in the song's context.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns in their livestreams, the lyrics of the popular Lloyd version can be found here.

Oh me boots and clothes are all in pawn
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
And its bloody drafty 'round Cape Horn,
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

{Chorus}
Oh, you pinks and posies,
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.

But it's 'round Cape Horn that must go
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
For that is where the whale-fish blow.
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

{Chorus}

My dear old mother wrote to me,
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
Ah son, won't you come home from sea.
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

{Chorus}

It's 'round the Cape that we must go
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
Though we be beaten with rain and snow.
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

{Chorus}

It's growl you may, but go you must,
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
'you growl too loud, your head they'll bust.
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

{Chorus}

Just one more pull and that will do,
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)
For we're the boys to pull her through
(Go down, you blood red roses, Go down.)

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