What do we have along the lines of GHASTLY?
Naught but six with their cups in the punch bowl!
Truncheon-bruised and exaggerated piece-parts,
moldy, motley, screeching family!
With sunken chests the rotting pests are
bound and wrapped in funeral garments.
Dropsy, gout, and fast consumption...
red and dead, they're seeping siblings!

"What screams from thee, we're much surprised!
Calm thyself and thy leaping forehead!
Stow thy scowl and bulging eyes!
Royal blood should be far from frowning!
We shall join thee and imbibe!
We'll sit and sip from a broken skull!
Hello, my dear, were you aware that your mouth stretches ear to ear?"

What do we have along the lines of POISON?
Naught but a barrel of the devil's own Black Strap!
"One gallon each to stow in thy hold! A mulct, that's mild in nature!"
"I regret that my hull is weighted!
Humming stuff is the only ballast-"
"Belay that noise, I've room to spare!
I'll drink yours down in a draught-and-a-half!"

"But wait, I've only now divined, King Pest is Timothy Hurlygurly!
Stage actors have taken this, an undertaker's for their playhouse!"
"Ill-bred rogue! You mock my throne!
A King's decree cannot be altered!
Make them thrash and drown in the October beer in yonder hog's head!"

Tarpaulin's sunk to his ears!
And the tall one is thrashing about,
pulling down bones from a post-mortem chandalier!
One knock and dead-duke and bursting the barrel
and freeing his fat friend and death to the Pests!
They bend from the weight of the two royal sisters,
they carry the Pest to their ship
and the sea will bathe corpses...
the buoyantly dead shall abound!

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Legs and Tarpaulin song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is an interpretation/retelling of one of Edgar Allen Poe's strangest short stories, "King Pest". Two sailors recently returned from a job find themselves making a hasty escape from a bar, having nothing to pay their tab with. (If I remember correctly it was London, but I'm not entirely sure). The younger of the two sailors is a stout, fat, "featureless" man by the name of Hugh Tarpaulin. The older is a lean, stark-faced man of exceptional height, known only as Legs. The duo, being completely intoxicated ignore the quarantines, barriers and threat of capital punishment surrounding a neighborhood infected by the plague and lose their perceived pursuers, as no one in their right mind would enter such a place. They eventually find themselves at the doorstep of a curious dwelling, lead by the sound of shrieking laughter and merriment from within. This is the place that the song starts, as they make a gruesome discovery of who/what has decided to take up residence there.

    They find the dwelling to be the abandoned shop of an Undertaker, with a trapdoor leading to a well-stocked wine cellar and a large table littered with assorted spirits and liquors. At the center of the table is an enormous punch bowl, and above the table hangs a crude chandelier fashioned from a skeleton or two.
    Around the table are six in various states of disease/decomposition, sitting in coffins. Poe takes a paragraph or so to describe all of them, and they all have a particularly prominent feature. The self-proclaimed King Pest the First has a remarkably high forehead and jaundiced skin. Queen Pest, mentioned in the lyrics has a very wide mouth, literally "stretch[ing] ear to ear". They claim to be royalty, the purpose of their gathering to pay tribute to their supreme divinity, Death.
    Tarpaulin offends them once, referring to Death as Davy Jones. For this King Pest and his court demand he and Legs redeem themselves by downing a gallon of poison/alcohol, called Black Strap, each.
    Legs, having been drinking heavily for most of the night claims he could not possibly drink any more. Tarpaulin offers to drink 2 gallons for the both of them, but the Pests insist that the King's decrees must be followed to the letter. In the midst of his protest, Tarpaulin eventually recognizes King Pest as the actor, Tim Hurlygurly, and his court a supporting cast.
    The Pests are outraged at this exposition, and Tarpaulin is quickly sentenced to drown in the bowl o punch.
    Legs acts quickly to avoid meeting the same fate, and knocks King Pest into the wine cellar, shutting and locking the trapdoor behind him. He then hops up on the table and grabs hold of the skeletal chandelier, swinging it around and killing one of the Pests in the process. He overturns the punch bowl, releasing Tarpaulin and flooding the room with ale which quickly submerges and drowns the Archduke, the coffin-bound Duke to float away harmlessly and the mortified Pest sisters panic. The story concludes with Tarpaulin quickly recovering to help Legs kidnap the Archduchess and Queen.

    "Humming stuff is the only ballast-"
    "Humming-stuff" is the term the sailors use for the drink served at the Jolly Tar, the pub Legs and Tarpaulin flee from when they can't pay their tab.
    "and the sea will bathe corpses.../the buoyantly dead shall abound!"
    This isn't actually mentioned in the story. It is implied, but following the chronological structure of the song's lyrics in relation to the story, the phrase is most likely an addition for the sake of emphasis.
    TheWarOnIndifferenceon September 12, 2009   Link

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