Robert Palomo - New Old Sea Songs

A Year and a Day - Audio, video, lyrics

I have taken a well-known children's poem by the 19th-century English poet, Edward Lear, and set it to music in sea shanty style. The verses are almost (but not quite) verbatim from Lear's poem. The chorus is mine, albeit with a borrowed expression from Lear, which forms the track title. 

One of my earliest memories from my childhood is my mum reading this poem aloud. That was long before I learned about biology, so the idea that an Owl and a Cat sail would away to sea and decide to get married didn't seem at all odd. The fact that they found they lacked a ring made sense. My folks had rings, they were married, so obviously a ring was a requirement. 

It took the pair a while (a year and a day!) to locate one — in a far-off land, attached to the nose of a Pig. Our neighbors were farmers and even at a very tender age I'd seen their big boar hog with a nose ring, so that idea didn't seem strange either. The couple strikes what was evidently a fair deal for it. They then they go off and find a Turkey to perform the ceremony — probably not the first turkey ever to conduct a wedding, and likely not the last! 

The story ends happily, with a wedding night supper and dance on the beach under the moonlight. What's not to like?

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There's another version of this recording available, one especially for Mermaids...


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Song art image - A Year and a Day

Weigh, hey! Sailing away!
Sailing away for a year and a day
Weigh, hey! Sailing away!
Sailing away for a year and a day

Oh the Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat
They took some honey and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note
The Owl looked up to the stars above
And he sang to a small guitar
O lovely Pussycat, O Pussycat me love
What a beautiful Pussycat you are, you are
What a beautiful Pussycat you are


Pussycat said to the Owl
You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet ye sings
Oh let us be married, too long have we tarried
But what shall we do for a ring, a ring
Oh what shall we do for a ring?


So they sailed away for a year and a day
To the land where the bong-tree grows
And there in a wood, a piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose
With a ring at the end of his nose


Dear Pig, be ye willin' to sell for one shillin'
Yer ring? Said the Piggy, "I will!"
So they took it away, and was married next day
By the Turkey what lives on the hill, the hill
By the Turkey what lives on the hill


They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a Runcible Spoon
Then hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon
They danced by the light of the moon


This song is dedicated to the memory of my mother, 
Mary Virginia Lewis Palomo, 1923-2010

What fans say about "A Year and a Day"

So delightful. Brings back many memories.”

— Brenda A. (UK)

The Owl and the Pussycat - a sea shanty? Well it is, isn't it. Wonderful treatment of the poem.”

— Gerry K. (UK)

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