The Ox-Eyed Man
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
This song was usually a capstan shanty, but it was also used for pumping. It dates to the 1860s.*

Most of the versions of this shanty were obscene, and they have been sanitized by most collectors. One collector tied the obscenity to a hidden meaning of "hog-eye." However, hog-eye refers to a type of barge that was invented for the overland trade and used on the canals and rivers during the Gold Rush. A "ditch-hog" was the term used by American seamen to refer to a sailor of inland waterways. Hugill speculates that the collector confused "dead-eye" (which does have both nautical and vulgar meanings) with hog-eye. Regardless of the confusion, there were several verses of the shanty that were obscene.**

The ox-eyed man is the man for me,
He came a sailing from o'er the sea
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

Oh, May in the garden a shelling her peas,
And bird singing gaily among the trees.
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

Oh, May looked up and she saw her fate
In the ox-eyed man passing by the gate
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

The ox-eyed man gave a fond look of love,
And charmed May's heart which was pure as a dove,
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

Oh, May in the parlour a-sitting on his knee,
And kissing the sailor who'd come o'er the sea
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

Oh, May in the garden a-shelling her peas,
Now weeps for the sailor who sail'd o'er the sea.
Heigh ho for the ox-eyed man.

Related Links
From Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties and
**Shanties from the Seven Seas
See Bibliography for full information.
*From The Mudcat Cafe.