The Wonderful Crocodile

Captain Hook encounters the crocodile.
Illustration by Alice B. Woodward

According to Ruth Crawford Seeger, in American Folksongs for Children, this song comes from Nova Scotia. But sightings have also been made in Ireland, Australia and England. Origins are unknown but it seems to come from broadsides of the 19th century, when the accounts of honest and stout-hearted seafaring men received the respect and credence they deserved. By golly.


When that I was shipwrecked and driven from the shore,
And all that I had to go around the country to explore,
Was me right valarity, wack valarity, chook valarity day.

Then steering up the other side I found a crocodile.
From the tip of his nose to the end of his tail he was ten-thousand miles.
With me right . . .

I bore away from his head one day with every stitch of sail,
And going nine knots by the log in ten months reached his tail.
With me right . . .

The crocodile you see, was not of the common race.
For I had to get up a might tall tree to look into his face.
With me right . . .

The wind was blowing hard and blowing from the south.
The tree it broke a down I fell into the Crocodile’s mouth.
With me right . . .

The crocodile he set his mouth and he thought had his victim,
But I went down his throat you see and that is how I tricked him.
With me right . . .

I roamed about his throat until I found his maw
And there was bullock’s heads and hearts laid up there by the score.
With me right . . .

The crocodile was getting old and shortly after died.
I took me six months and forty-two days to work a hole up through his side.
With me right . . .

Come all you fellows, come listen to me. If you ever travel the Nile.
‘Tis where I tell you you’ll see the shell of the wonderful crocodile.
With me right . . .

C Standard