death and the maiden

The Maiden weighed anchor at her last port of call
Jenny ran down the docks, late for the Ball
Her father yelled, Jenny, be back by midnight
For the Maiden, she sails in the morning’s half-light

She didn’t turn back, just waved her hand
Already hearing the drums of the band
They were washing the streets with whiskey and wine
When she reached the Ball, the clock struck nine

She wore a mask made from black-feathered doves
A crimson dress and long black gloves
She kicked off her shoes and danced on her toes
With her hair blowing wherever night winds chose

She saw an angel, a devil, a cat, and a clown
A bird with no wings and a king with no crown
Dancers flowed like water on the square
Then parted like waves and a man stood there

He wore a plain black mask like a second skin
It covered his face from forehead to chin
She could taste in the wind the salt of the sea
And his eyes were as blue and his manner as free

He said, Jenny, as always, you’re lovely my dear
As for me, I’ve aged another sad year

With a plead in his voice and a need in his stance
Jenny Mackay, honor me with a dance

She didn’t know how he knew her name
But something inside her lit like a flame
And it seemed that this moment was destined to be
So she danced with him there, on the square, by the sea

She was drunk, drunk, drunk by the moon
Had they danced for hours or just that one tune?
She could have danced, danced, danced all night
But the Maiden must sail in the morning’s half-light

He said, Jenny Mackay, does it bring you joy?
To dance with the man you tried to destroy

Then he took off his mask, and she took in a breath
It was Captain Leroux of the ship known as Death

The clock struck 12, he stood stone still
He said, One fateful night off the coast of Brazil
The pirate ship Maiden came looking for me
Captain Mackay and his daughter Jenny

I’d danced with you once at this Bal Masque
I never knew then you were Jenny Mackay
You burned half my ship, took the lives of my crew
And there on my deck tried to take my life too

The cannons blazed, and the waves grew higher
There was blood in the sky, and the sea was on fire
Never again will such a night be
As when Death and the Maiden danced in the sea

A shot from my pistol bloodied your dress
You fell in my arms with a lady’s finesse
Then ran your cold steel from my forehead to chin
And said to me softly - I’ll see you again

She touched her hand to the scar on his face
For a second it faded leaving no trace
She kissed him one time like her lips were a brand
Then slipped from his grasp like water through sand

Now the Maiden she sails with ghosts on her decks
She’ll sail forever, this world or the next
Searching for Death below and above
But one night a year Jenny dances her love

lyrics & music: Mary James